This weekend I was card shopping. I needed "Thank You" notes and a few cards of encouragement for a friend going through something really tough.
Who knew it would lead to tears? My own--- as I felt the hurt for her and her family deeply and as I struggled with whether these cards would say the right thing.
You see, I wanted to convey, "I'm here for you" (even though I'm hundreds of miles away), "I care about you" (even if I haven't stopped by with a meal or a coffee or a hug-see above), "I want to know what's going on" (but I'm trying not to ask too many questions or call too often) and most of all, "I love you".
I found myself thinking, "what if she gets this card and it makes her feel bad because it reminds her?" As if she is walking around totally forgetting and my card would bring it all up again?
I was treating what she is dealing with like the proverbial elephant in the room. I do that a lot. Not because I don't care or don't want to face it myself, but because I am afraid to pry, to seem to be insinuating myself into someone else's pain. I want to walk alongside her and her family and yet...I don't want to intrude or fill her voicemail .
How many times have I held back from offering friendship or a caring word because I am afraid to intrude, because I think I may not be welcome? Because I fear rejection?
What if, instead of fearing, I reach out in love and not worry about the reaction? What if I follow my heart and just act in kindness and love without worrying if someone will doubt my intentions or sincerity? What if I just be myself and let someone know I care about what they're going through (good or bad) whether I have known them since we wore fingerless gloves and sang Material Girl at the top of our lungs in high school or we just shared a table at a MOPS meeting once.
So I resolve to take the risk and jump in. To reach out in love and kindness even when it might slap me in the face. (Trying to follow What Would Jesus Do here.) To not tiptoe around but to boldly say, I'm here and I care. Maybe my gift isn't coffee or meals but an ear to listen and a heart to care and, of course, prayer.
And I did find the perfect card..It actually says, "I'm not sure what to do, I'm not sure what to say. But one thing I can do for sure is pray."
Praying that we all can face our elephants instead of trying to slipcover them to match the furniture. They're kind of loud and eventually they'll make themselves known anyway..and sometimes that can get messy. ;)