Time to Speak/Show Up

It has been a year since I lost a friend to a disease that is treatable (anorexia). This didn’t start overnight. We (her friends) watched as she slowly wasted away. We made jokes. We baked a lot and tried to get her to eat. But none of us knew what to do. We didn’t know what to say. We didn’t want to offend her. She had gone through so much (death of a parent, a sibling, family struggles, diabetes, miscarriages).  We loved her. We protected her. We enabled her.

It wasn’t until she let it slip that she was 79 lbs that I finally spoke up. Said the words to others that we would lose her unless we got her help. However, by that time I lived a province away. Shortly after that she became so ill that she was hospitalized for months. She fought and fought for over a year until she just didn’t have the strength to fight any more.

While I type this, I struggle. We were Christians. We were called to help the sick, the lonely, the outcast, the widow, the orphan. Yet, we allowed our own insecurities and the lies of the enemy to bind us. We sat by, helpless. Wishing for a change. Yes we prayed and prayed for healing and in the end she was healed. But what if we had showed up at the beginning and not at the end. What if we had offended and pushed. Cheri would be the first to admit that she was a liar. The disease made her one. What if we had called her out? What if we had looked past our own struggles with weight and looked at her struggles? What if we had intervened in prayer over her?

These are thoughts that still haunt me. By the end when she was hospitalized the final time, I was so wrapped up in my own struggles that I didn’t call her. Didn’t reach out. I live with that regret.

Lately I have been reading Kara Tippet’s blog Mundane Faithfulness. If you don’t know Kara’s story, Kara  has been fighting cancer for apx. 3 years.  She is fighting to hang on knowing that there is no cure for her on earth. Knowing that only God can heal her. Her friends watch this. And struggle with it. However, they are there for her. They show up.

My evil twin and I have numerous discussions about the Church as a whole and why we, as Christians, don’t show up. (I’m not speaking in every instance, but as a whole.) I know so many people who struggle with mental illness, cancer, mls, development disabilities, autism, etc….where they need support. They need help and the Chruch has failed or is failing them. I can attest to this. As a special needs parent I get more looks of pity than I do of offers of help. I mean really can’t someone bring me a casserole. I see so many people who are hurting at Church. We just watch them. We don’t engage them. They might want us to talk to them.

What is this? Why are we getting it so wrong?

I don’t have answers and this post isn’t about that. But it is a start of a discussion. A start of a thought to really get out there and show up. Show up in the mundane. Bring coffee. Listen. Say hi. Invite them to a dinner. Make them a dinner (I would greatly appreciate it). Get to know them and their problems. The church is supposed to be a place of imperfect people worshipping a perfect God. Not a place for perfect people to look good and worship God. It’s a messy place. A place were we can be authentic and honest in our pain and where we are supposed to lift each other up.

I don’t want to be where I am now in a year and missing another friend or family member. I want to show up. I want to be the arms of God for the hurting. I want to speak words of truth in love to those who need to hear them. I want to confront and help build up those who don’t see hope. I think we all do. I think we need to start doing instead of thinking it.

 

I’m linking up with the lovely SDG Sisterhood this week.

10 Responses to Time to Speak/Show Up

  • I think where things have gone wrong is that it’s hard to ‘love thy neighbour’ when you don’t even know your neighbour. We’ve become an introverted society, and technology has made us turn to screens rather than each other. Doing for another is hard, but typing out platitudes on a facebook message is easy. And we are a world that loves the comfort of ease.

    As for Cheri, the difficult truth is that sometimes people aren’t ready for help until they hit rock-bottom, and sometimes by the time they hit rock-bottom, it’s too late to accept that help. All we can do is let them know that we’ll be there when they’re ready, and keep reminding them of that fact.

  • I can tell you two things: She knew you loved and accepted her, no matter what and that meant more to her than anything else. And the last months, we did speak truth to her. We did call her out when we caught her lying. And we told her more times than we could count of how much Jesus loved her. I wish we could have known her healthy and whole, but I am so glad that one day when see her again, she will be just that.

    For now, I really pray that people will surround you who can love and care for you everyday, especially on the days you most need it. I’m sorry that you don’t have that right now. My heart hurts for you, sweetie. You’re just such an incredible person and I pray that you can receive as much as you have given. Because I know when I most needed it, you gave me so much and I thank you for that. (I’m still mad that you moved, but since it was for a good cause, I forgive you! haha!)

  • Michelle, you have spoken truth to me a few times when it has been needed. You have listened when I needed ears and showed up by phone or message when I really needed someone. I am so grateful for your friendship. I wish I was close enough, I’d bring you tuna noodle casserole in a minute!!!

    • Love you too. It’s so nice to have Sunny California always available and always praying. However, you lost me at tuna noodle casserole. :)

  • Thank you for this wake up call! I have just been thinking and praying about how I have let myself slip into this comfortable coccoon, away from other people, just surrounded by my family, work and things that make me happy. It’s a lovely place to be but not where God called me to be.

  • I think I would feel much like you, Michelle. Wondering what could have been, what I could have done. And knowing, too, that even if I did things differently, it could have turned out the same way. At the end of the day, we can’t let the fullness of our motivation be changing people. It has to just be loving them for who they are in that moment. And you did that. You loved her.

    Part of our problem as a church is we can’t love our neighbor well because we haven’t figured out how to truly love ourselves well. Yes, we are selfish, but that is not the same as loving ourselves. We are constantly on the hunt to make our lives better and this means we often have little energy to make the lives of others better.

    Can I ship a casserole to Canada??

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