When a friend’s child dies, it’s like watching a tsunami roar in, over, and through but being wholly unable to stop the onslaught of pain and grief. It’s like watching a polio survivor in an iron lung – their pain changes their ability even to breathe.
What can I do . . . just for today . . . to be useful?
One friend, Lucy Higginbotham answered that question. She posted on Facebook a few years back how a few people doing a few simple things helped them breathe. I share it with you, dear reader, because we love people who are bearing agonizing pain.
On Receiving and Asking and Receiving
God decorated my house for Christmas. He folded my laundry, too. And He came to the Scout Court of Honor on Monday.
Monday night we had to move through one of the hardest events of the year: Troop 82’s Court of Honor when the scouts get their advancement awards for the semester and the teenage boys get their Eagle awards.
Instead of putting the Eagle pin on Tex, our family received thoughtful expressions of remembrances for him – a plaque, roses, a necklace and a scholarship for scouting established in his name.
Bob received an astonishing piece of work – a silver belt buckle custom made in Tex’s honor. It was difficult to receive such generous gifts – both for the reason they even exist and for the care and thought behind the giving. Why is it hard to receive love even when I am grateful for it?
Why is it hard to ask for help, even when we need it?
I think there are three main reasons:
Pride – I shouldn’t need help; what will they think of me?
Fear – What if no one offers? Then the wound will be worse!
Uncertainty – I don’t even know who to ask, how to ask, or what to ask for.
Uncertain is where I found myself on Wednesday. Overwhelmed by need, anger, frustration and sorrow, I stood in my kitchen and screamed into my bathrobe. I knew I needed help, but even contemplating asking was in itself overwhelming. Oh – there was some pride in there, too… I’ve seen my friends’ houses and they don’t look like mine!
A voice in my head said, “You NEED to ask for help, just sit down and figure it out.”
I sat at my dining room table, forcing my thoughts through sludge, trying to pick out what I could delegate, who to ask and how. Facebook? No… too big. Text? No… too small. I settled on an email to the moms of Anne’s and Tex’s classes.
“I don’t know how to begin this, if I should do this, or anything. All I know is I need help, I’ve been told to ask for it, and I don’t want to put this out on Facebook. So I’m starting with family to see how it goes… I’m having a really hard time functioning – taking care of my family, of their needs and wants, of my own, of Christmas, stuff for Tex… ugh. If you can make space in the next few days, I would appreciate someone to:”
And then I listed about 6 things – from folding my laundry to decorating my house for Christmas. That was at 10:15 a.m.
DING! Went my email chime “I’m in! Can I come Saturday?”
DING! “Laundry Queen – at your service!”
DING! “I can do mailing labels, when do you want me to get them?”
Ding… Ding… Ding
My computer sang with the loving, rapid responses from my friends in just an hour’s time. And as if that weren’t crazy enough, they were thanking me for asking them to help.
Uh… what? You are thanking me for folding my underwear and raking my leaves? What?!
But one of those dear friends said this:
“…What a blessing to see your sweet, authentic, real, humble ask for help. Thank you for knowing how much we love you and how much we want to be there to help you in exactly times like this. As much as we want to help, we are ignorant and don’t know how to best serve you, so it is awesome for you to ask when you need it. (Next time, don’t wait until you are screaming into your robe!)”
Then she reminded me of who God is and how much He loves me:
Your Sure, Strong Foundation
Your Shield and very great reward
The God who sees
Prince of Peace
Your Eternal Hope
He is that for you, too, if you will but accept his unconditional love for you.
It’s hard. I know!
I had a hard time receiving the love shown to me because I knew how busy they all are. I felt like a burden – not a blessing.
But one of the things I’m getting honors-level coursework in lately is that I cannot be sucked in by feelings. I have to stand on the facts of faith: who God is, who He says I am (his treasured possession! Crazy!) and what His promises are… and there are so many.
By Saturday evening, moms, dads and students had:
• my laundry folded
• yard fully raked (front and back)
• trash hauled away
• a cluttered corner dispersed so I could wrap presents
• Christmas decorations up
• three meals delivered
• a shopping run to Target delivered to my door
• mailing labels set in motion
• Christmas lights on my house (at 7:30 Saturday morning!)
• kind, loving notes of encouragement sent
Later that evening, the doorbell rang. I looked at Bob, puzzled. I thought our elves were done. Who could that be? We opened the door to… nobody. But we found an anonymous surprise. If you are reading this and it was you, thank you.
We just stared at it. Speechless. I cried. Bob whispered, “Thank you, Jesus.”
So, if you’ve taken the time to read this far, you may think this is another Name It and Claim It Jesus thing. I’m not claiming anything, except that God hears our prayers. He uses his people to do his work. He acts in ways that’ll downright flip your beanie sometimes. Other times it can look like He is absent. Or disinterested. Or cruel, even. That is why I have to go on what HE SAYS not on how I FEEL.
And when I look at my mantlepiece, I see the hands of Jesus who put up my garland. And when Bob wears the buckle, he will be girded up by the Christ’s love through our friends.
“Carry one another’s burden’s and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
I know our situation is extreme. How many people do you know whose son’s . . . suicide? But your needs don’t have to be that extreme to warrant you asking for help. So ask. Be brave, take the risk, set your pride aside and just ask. But above all, ask Jesus to show you who he is. He will.
Even if it means folding your underwear.
From an earlier blog ~ Parts of Speech and Suffering