Friday, December 9, 2011

Hard things

Written Monday, October 31, 2011:

Sometimes life happens and it requires us to do hard things.

Sometimes those hard things are painful. Sometimes they are awkward. Sometimes they are emotional.

Sometimes doing hard things are just, well, hard. And sometimes they are excruciatingly hard.

Sunday will go down in my book of life as a day that required me to do a hard thing. I sat outside of a hospital, about to go visit a friend, and pleaded with the Lord to go before me into the hospital room. I asked him for wisdom about what to say, for peace to be present in my demeanor and for a strong sense of God’s leading and the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Without Him, I would fail. With Him, I could offer light in a dark circumstance.

I wanted to visit and offer smiles and hugs and congratulations. I offered all those things. But in addition, I offered prayers and tears and words of comfort and encouragement. I asked Jesus to give me the strength to offer what my friend was striving to find in the midst of a hard diagnosis: the markings of Down Syndrome in her newborn daughter. I tried to provide hope for the future…a reminder that God is faithful and wise and sovereign over all…that His plan is perfect…that His way is best…that He does not make mistakes…that He is already walking the road that she will now journey on.

Having been the recipient of stupid phrases uttered without thought and sentiments spoken to make the giver feel better, I prayed fervently that God would allow my presence to speak louder than my words (a life-long prayer that grows with importance the longer I live). I tried to listen more than talk. I tried to ask questions without being intrusive. I tried to do this hard thing with grace and humility, knowing that the gift of presence is one of the most precious gifts of all.

Because not everyone will give my friend this gift. Some will hear and run away. Some will pretend. Some will ignore. Some will try to make it better. Some will compare their hard thing to her hard thing. We all handle hard things differently. And we don’t always handle them the right way.

If we allow it, life will teach us…others will teach us…God will teach us, how to handle hard things in a manner that brings glory to God and points others to Him. We can also find humor in the hard things and joy in the midst of pain.

The reality is, my hard thing is minimal when I think of her hard thing. My hard thing is supporting her and loving her and being there for her. Her hard thing is that her life is forever changed. Her hard thing may last a lifetime. It will be a beautifully hard thing, but hard indeed.

Sometimes that’s just it…we have to strive to find the beauty in our hard things. We have to choose to unwrap the gift. Choose to see it as a gift. Choose to face the hard thing head on. Asking God to lift us up. Be our strength. And guide each step we take as we journey through the hard things that come our way.
I see my friends doing the hard things and they encourage me: Beating cancer. Missing spouses. Forgiving affairs. Researching diseases. Loving family who is hard to love. Getting up every day and facing their hard thing.

Sometimes we don’t have a choice about whether or not to do the hard things. Life happens and hard things drop into our lives in an instant. A phone call. An email. A letter from a lawyer. The doctor’s diagnosis. Going around the hard thing does not make us strong. Going over it or under it allows us to pretend the hard thing doesn’t really exist. It’s only going through the hard thing that we are refined…molded into the likeness of Christ…transformed from the inside out.

Today I am working to figure out alongside my friend what it means to celebrate and grieve simultaneously. How does one be filled with joy and a sense of fear at the same time? How does one love medical professionals because of the knowledge that they have, yet hate them because of the hard news they deliver?

I don’t know. I haven’t walked this road before. Neither has she. But thank God that we don’t walk it alone. He made the road. He created the diagnosis. He waits for us…as we walk every hard road…and as we do every hard thing that this side of Heaven brings our way.


Anonymous said...

I read your blog every new update but have never commented. This piece of writing spoke to me in a way that I will be thinking about for a very long time. My husband and I have been through hard things and you are right about having to go through it instead of around it or under it. You have given me a new set of eyes to see God's plan and grace to handle the hard things of life. Thank you for your wonderful insight.


"All in His Perfect Timing" said...

I'm so glad you were there for your friend.
This is such a great post ... I'm experiencing a hard thing in my life right now. Thank you for encouraging me to do it head on ... and reminding me that God is walking with me on my journey.