I don’t get “personal” with men very often. I’ve mentioned that before. I’m especially extra careful with married men. But, a friend recently confided that he was struggling in his marriage. He sent me a text with some personal words of his situation. And I said …… *crickets*
I didn’t respond. I wanted to write him back, but I take a l.o.n.g time to respond to things like this … things of great importance … topics that require tender words …. or that stir up deep emotion. With each passing day, he slid a little further away. And I was mute.
I wondered …. puzzled …. with indignation … did he really think I would write him back and tell him how “I understand?” That I would be compassionate and supportive? Because I had been through a divorce? And I’d be his big cheerleader? Because I care for him? That I would encourage him to walk out on her? To leave her and all of those years of investment in each other? To walk out on his children? Really? What was he thinking?
I couldn’t find the words ….
I didn’t know how to say what I wanted to say ….
because I didn’t want him to leave her. I wanted him to stay and W.O.R.K for it!
Pull for her! Strive to save them! Toil and pour himself out … give his own life effort.
For weeks, I didn’t say anything. I didn’t have the words. But, I knew I would see him soon and be able to speak to him in person. So, I waited ….
His children are really big in sports. And he is there. He attends practices, games and meetings. He supports each team member, every coach and all the families involved. He eats, lives and breathes sports. When you talk to him, every conversation rolls around – with a good deal of speed – to sports and his awesome kids. I know him well enough to know that he won’t let his kids or their team members “quit.” Giving up isn’t an option. I can just imagine him, on the sideline, yelling, “You can do it! You got this, man! Give it all you got! Don’t give up! Hang in there! Keep it up! Y’all work together! You can do it! Come on!!”
The time came when he had a chance to pour forth his story… honest and desperate …. aching and real.
And then it was my turn.
We stood there, in the quiet room downstairs … me leaning up again the pool table
that I might not sway and weaken from listening or sharing my heart.
I had had enough time to think it through so that I knew exactly what I would say.
As his words slowed and his eyes dampened,
he prepared for my response.
I took a deep breath and began.
I do not remember my exact words, but I can certainly reiterate the flavor and idea of my oration.
It went like this:
” You know that I care deeply about you. You know that I want the best for you and your family. But, if you think my response is going to be compassionate and understanding, you’re mistaken … because I’m in her shoes not yours. I’ve thought a lot about your note and the one thing that stands out in my mind is your life with sports. What I WANT to tell you is what you tell your kids … those kids out there in the field, playing the game. If they are slipping and struggling …. if they are short players and had to play longer because there were no subs …. if it is hot and they are tired because this is the third game of the weekend and it’s 104 in the sun … what would you tell them? What would you say? What would you do?”
I went on.
“I know what you would say. You would cheer …. shout …. yell for them from the sideline.
You would roar ….
– tears welling in my eyes as my voice quivered –
‘You can do it! You got this, man! Give it all you got! Don’t give up! Hang in there! Keep it up! Y’all work together! You can do it! Come on!!’ ….
and you would mean it from.the.bottom.of.your.gut.”
Later that afternoon, he was talking to someone about a game … and he was reciting some similar lines …. some “You can do it” words that he had shared with his son. He was speaking coach-talk. I stopped and butted my way in ….
“See! That’s what I’m talking about! That’s what I want to hear!! ”
I poked my index finger deep into his firm bicep.
” You can do this! You got this! Those are the words!! That’s what I’m talking about! Don’t give up! ”
– tears welling in my eyes as my voice quivered.
And I walked on
thankful for that opportunity …
my heart racing.
My sports analogy didn’t come up again. Later, he asked me to keep him in my prayers.
But, he wouldn’t have liked to hear my prayers. I prayed that God would make him fall apart and he wouldn’t be able to do it. I prayed he would be so physically ill it would be so difficult for him. I prayed he would literally ache. I prayed that God would restore his marriage and make it better than ever before. I prayed he would go to counseling.
Recently, he packed up and left … he felt like he just had to do it.
And, frankly, I can not understand.
(But, I’m still praying … will you join me? NOT for restoration … but renovation of his marriage, his relationship, his heart, his wife’s heart, his entire world? … from the inside out … by the spirit of our living, loving, mighty God?)
All this …
and so many other things ….
have gotten thinking a lot about love and support lately.
I had a friend send me a sweet Facebook message recently. She wrote a short little thing about being a bad friend (she doesn’t stay in touch well) and how she reads my blog so knows what life looks like for me. She mentioned her family and some little chatty stuff and then added,
“BTW, did I mention I’m really questioning if I know what love is?”
“By the way….”
Did she really write that?
“By the way” sounds like a side-note … an after thought …
like something significant is being mentioned.
“By the way, your shoes are untied.”
“By the way, I picked up the mail.”
“By the way, you dropped your comb.”
“By the way ….. YOUR HOUSE IS BURNING DOWN!”
And I thought … do any of us? In our human capacity? Can we possibly know? And if we know God, does that make it any easier? Because, He’s God and we’re not … and in our human capacity … how can we truly understand it? Even if we have His Mighty Spirit living within us … how can we grasp this? And the Bible? Sometimes … sometimes when I read and really try to put together one verse and another … I walk away with more questions than answers.
So, here I am … with a friend who is hurting … who shares, asking for my support … and I wonder how I love him the way I should or the way he needs. “What would Jesus do?” I can continue to pray for healing … but I have prayed for that before and not received the answer I desired … the new birth, the healing, the reconciliation. Can I truly pray and believe? Because, faith is an integral ingredient in petitioning, isn’t it?
Do I just “love him where he is?” Because that requires holding my tongue
and I’m struggling just a bit with this …
with holding my physical tongue.
So, here I sit … clinging weakly because of all the emotions that have peaked and valleyed
over the last weeks.
I’m surrounded by hurting people.
I feel as though I have nothing worthwhile to offer …
I’m struggling with how to love
because the way that I am loving seems to hurt and can’t be accepted.
And I’m wondering if I’m doing it all altogether wrong?
I have no answers.
“All the answers that I started with … turned out questions in the end.”