Today’s blog requires you know the following:
I am not good at admitting I’ve run out of resources, ideas or strategies for solving problems. I am overly responsible, even about things that are not my responsibility.
I am also not great at showing how I truly feel about something. That is partially created by the training I received to be a pastor and my professional need to appear as if I have it all together when speaking, teaching or leading worship services.
For the last fifteen years, my extended family has been dealing with a family member who is not doing well due to mental issues and substance abuse. This has been a long, worrisome, exhausting, roller coaster of a journey. In the last months it as taken another downturn and lately I’ve come to the brick wall understanding that I’ve run out of resources. Maybe you or someone you know struggles with something similar. Maybe you understand the heartbreaking feeling of wanting to help yet being unable to.
As luck, schedules and providence would have it, a friend and I spontaneously got together for coffee. For some reason, she asked about this family member. She knows the journey I’ve been on. We had lots of other things to talk about, yet she asked about this first. She remembered.
Then, she listened to my latest heartbreak over no longer knowing what to do. See point one above. She helpfully shared a couple of examples of her own of this dynamic and how it has played out in real life.
As we wound our way through the conversation, I cried. I don’t cry in front of others much, especially in the middle of Starbucks. See point two above. She cried with me. She literally cried with me. Real tears were rolling down her face.
She prayed. She stopped talking and prayed with me. She just took my hand and prayed a one line prayer for God’s help because it seemed too big for both of us.
Then she took a breath, looked me in the eyes and spoke truth to me. She said, “You need counseling. This is long, ongoing and sticky because it is family and you need outside counsel. You just do.” I told her that’s what I usually tell other people, not what they tell me. She said, “I know but I’m telling you.”
She was right. Her words pierced my heart.
This what friends do for each other. She remembered and asked. She listened. She felt it so hard. She cried with me. She prayed. And, then she told me the truth, to my face, briefly, adamantly, with love. When she spoke that truth, it resonated in my soul and I knew she was right.
Oh my goodness, I am so grateful for her in that hour, on that day, with this situation. I want to be exactly that kind of friend.
Above all, love each other deeply. 1 Peter 4:8
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and Pace, breast cancer survivor and struggling family member.