warning: in this post i'm just going to be brutally honest. my feelings might not get packaged up nice and candy coated.
it's candy crush time. (i don't really know what that means, or what i'm trying to say. i just wanted to use the words 'candy crush.')
here we go. deep breath.
as much as my husband and i have been shocked by the outpouring of support and love from family, friends, acquaintances and strangers the past couple of months, we have been equally shocked by the ones we expected to be there for us and aren't.
quick. think of the 10 people in your life that, you believe, would drop everything and be there for you at the darkest, most hellish time in your life. now imagine that half of those people are hardly to be found when tragedy strikes. and then half of those half are Jesus-followers. shocked? yeah, us too.
but that's basically what's happening to us.
i have no idea how the mccayla of 2012 would have responded to a family member, friend or acquaintance who's newborn baby died. so i have absolutely no basis to judge. none. and i have no judgment for those i expected more from, just disappointment and hurt.
in the last two months my understanding of compassion has been completely expanded. and i've learned and experienced this through those who are grieving with us. not just sad for us from a distance but are there with us in it. the messy, hard, ugly journey of grief where there's weeping, random laughing, question asking and pain. it's not pretty. (and physical distance has nothing to do with it. some people who are across the globe feel closer to us than those who live 5 minutes from our house.)
i have been in awe of those who love us enough to sacrifice their time and energy to do the dark journey with us, even when they might not feel like it or think it sounds very 'fun'. and even when they don't know exactly what to do because they've never experienced what we're going through.
it only takes a moment to try and put yourself in the shoes of someone who is hurting. what would it feel like, and be like, to experience what that person is experiencing? imagine it. go there in your mind. i know it's hard and difficult to imagine sometimes, especially when it's extremely painful to think about something like your baby boy dying or your sister committing suicide, but imagine what it's like for them. they have to live it. and you get to snap back to reality. and if what you imagined felt difficult, times that by a million and you're probably not even close to how they feel.
compassion. i just looked up what it actually means. it means to "co-suffer."
yes. exactly. that's exactly what i'm talking about. (and us who follow Jesus should know that better than anyone!! shame on us for dropping the ball so often.)
so let me give some practical examples of what co-suffering might look like with a friend who is going through hell and hurting...
*when you say, "let's hang out" you actually pick a day and make it happen.
*you drive to the person's house, send a text to them saying, "we're in the driveway. if you want to talk, we will be here for 15 minutes praying."
*you don't ask if that person needs help with something. (because they obviously do.) you look for the need and you just make it happen. be proactive!
*you fill up their freezer with meals.
*your guilt doesn't hold you back from loving. neither does pride. all bets are off. grudges are forgotten and walls come down.
*in a crisis, you change your plans. drop everything. take time off work. cut your vacation short.
*as time goes by, you check in often. you're consistent.
*a seemingly small gesture like a loving email or a flower left on their porch with a note or a thoughtful card in the mail will do the trick. (but if you consider that person a close friend, step it up a bit.)
*for heaven's sake, just show up. say something. do something.
i know all this might seem kind of harsh and i sound like the most selfish, attention-seeking, greedy person in the world. i, in no way, want to make anyone feel guilty. i understand everyone has their own busy lives with their own hurts, celebrations, good times and bad, so the expectation is not to drown in our sorrow 24/7. this post is just humbly coming from a heart that's in earth-shattering pain and desperately wanting to underscore the importance of compassion and community.
and i'm sorry to say, the suffering didn't end a week after the funeral. it gets worse. most of the time we may look like semi-functioning human beings, getting on with normal life - but we aren't. we're messed up, broken people. and we need you.
thanks for listening.
this post is dedicated to all those who have all shocked us with support. you've inspired us to be more compassionate and love more sacrificially like you. we pray that we too will have the strength to co-suffer with you through your darkest days. thank you for doing the hard journey with us - you're saving our lives.