In someways this weekend was really crummy as some of my dearest friends are going through a rough time. Inevitably, when the people closest to you hurt, you hurt too. And while no one wants to see their loved ones in pain, or experience their pain themselves, this is one of life’s true gifts– that we have the capacity to feel both incredible joy and sorrow for another. This is one facet of what it means to be human.
A wise man I know once said (and I’m sure he heard it from elsewhere) that 90% of life is just showing up. This weekend was a real testament to the truth of that statement. In times of grief and pain, sometimes we are rendered powerless as to how to make the situation any better. For example, if someone loses a loved one, nothing a caring friend can do can bring the person back from the dead. 90% of life is just showing up. I know that so many times I have worried that I wouldn’t have the right thing to say, or that I’d say the wrong thing…and I think unfortunately, many times I have said the wrong thing, just to break the silence or to somehow try to feel like I was “helping”–but of course as time passes and I gain more experience in life’s crappier moments, I’m getting better at just being present, listening and not worrying about trying to fix everything, because the reality is I can’t fix anything. What I can do is show up and listen.
The worst part about something traumatic happening is that generally time and reflection heal. This is so hard because generally we want to feel better instantly, we want our friend’s pain to disappear in a mere moment and it so rarely happens like that. Maybe time isn’t the actually healing component at all, but a necessary factor in the equation. And really, how much can that suck? You know that you’re going to be ok, you just need time to get there. Perhaps the worse part is there is nothing that you can do to speed that process up. It’s like proverbial sketchy bridge that you need to cross to get to the other side of the river.
I love Patty Griffin–she’s a singer/songwriter from the states and I started listening to her music after I read a couple of Donald Miller’s books. He talked about taking long road trips with a girl that he had feelings for who didn’t feel the same way and how they listened to Patty Griffin the whole time. I romanticized her music I’m sure, but when I did start listening to her, I definitely wasn’t disappointed (gosh, I am long winded today, apologies!) Back to Patty– she has a song called Time Will Do the Talking that I love and in it she says, “Time will do the talking, years will do the walking, I’ll just find a comfy spot and I’ll wait it out.” That line has often stuck with me when things seem not so great and nothing but time and distance is going to make them better. Just find a comfy spot and wait it out. And despite how over simplified it sounds, it’s true– sometimes we just need to wait things out and find a comfy space to just let that happen. I think this is where friends and family are so necessary–hopefully, because we live in a way where community is valued we have people in our lives that are “our people”-the ones that you call at 4 am when something is wrong. When we have community like this, we can live with and through people, meaning that if I experience joy and pain, you can enter into that too. Our interconnectivity allows us to be each others “comfy spot” (i hope that I’m making sense here because I am confusing myself, oh monday mornings…) In my head it’s like an equation…this leads to that…
living in deep community—> experiencing joys and pains of others—> being able to “wait it out” until the pain subsides a bit
No one likes pain. I sure don’t. It was a crapy weekend of feeling sad for my friends- and I wish desperately that what happened had never happened–but since it did, I am, in a way, grateful that I feel so sad. Grateful because I know that I love my friends deeply, that if I could I would take away the pain in a second. I know that I am deeply loved, that someone has my back. I know that I am not an island, that I am connected to people. I know that I’m not alone because (bare with me) the roots of my life are entangled with other peoples lives. I am fully human.
Somewhere in one of Donald Miller’s books he wrote something to the extent of how in this life and in a world where there is so much injustice and so much pain all we can do is hold our hands over each others wounds until the day comes when we don’t need to do that anymore.
but until then, right? Until then….
check out another beautiful song that Patty Griffin wrote for Martin Luther King Jr here.