Kara’s Collection: I Understand, I Do

From an article originally posted March 10, 2014…

Today I ran to Costco with my oldest to stock up on prepared meals: lasagna, pizza, bagels, fruit, because meals need to happen, but we just can’t do it this week. So we extended ourselves a little grace and went and purchased all the samples that we liked today that we regularly never eat. I threw in fruit to balance the preservatives and bought organic sauce instead of the regular kind to feel better about my lame cooking this week.

Ella and I were rounding the corner to grab toast that is full of protein and chia seeds when we saw him. He was my age or maybe younger and he was in a motorized cart. I knew his deep set dark eyes, his bald, and his gaunt frame. He took my breath away. He could be my mirror in a short time from today. I know him, I know him, but I don’t. He’s walking his story uniquely as I’m walking my own. I write very honestly every day about my heart and my journey, but I never want my words to speak for everyone. They are simply mine. The story of one struggling in the midst of this battle. I am sure he and I share many griefs, many waking fears at night, many pains and sick feelings, but we are each so uniquely made. I simply can tell my story, and hope it grows care in you to want to hear the story of suffering in your neighbors, your friends, your community. Because being known, really known does matter.

But I want you to know I understand when the words don’t come. I understand when you don’t know what to say to me. I understand when my blog is too hard to read. I understand, because today, today as I saw that man, I didn’t know what to say. I turned over so many things in my mind, but nothing made any sense. My efforts at love and understanding all sounded trite and empty. I saw him and my brokenness grew, the sadness in my girl deepened. We saw him, and we simply didn’t know what to say. We are not afraid of him, and I hope you are not afraid of me, but I understand that you may not know what to say. It’s okay. There are days I don’t want to be noticed for my illness. There are days that I want to hide from the loving conversations my loves want to have with me.

Today, this day a dear friend had bad news. I hurt for her struggle, but I was so delighted, weirdly delighted to go to her house with coffee to hear her sadness. It was a relief to not think about myself. It was a gift really. I was able to share an email that one of you sent today. My attempts at help were lame at best, but I showed up. And I know how much that means. So many of you show up like that for me—no words, but you come.

So I get it, I do. I get not having the words. I’m not upset at your silence. I get when hard feels just too hard. But when the Holy Spirit calls, go. When you have that little bit of strength to buy the coffee and sit next to one that is shedding tears, go. Maybe when you go with nothing good to share, no words, no help—maybe that is the best time to go.

Is there a place in your life where you struggle for words? Is there a hard of another you are afraid to enter? Is God calling you to something you feel you don’t have the strength to walk through today? Let me encourage you, you don’t need the right words, you don’t need to have answers, or courage even.

Love. Simple love matters. I love the one in the picture above. I want answers to come for her that make her heart light, but I can’t fix it. It’s okay. I can drive through Starbucks, buy her favorite, and sit beside her and listen. Then after we have both cried, I can take an unflattering picture of us both because we don’t have enough pictures together. Ya’ll have taught me—there are moments without words, and there are moments we are called to go. And in both moments there is grace—always grace.

Dear Jesus, I saw him today. He crossed my path and scared me, but he doesn’t scare you. Would you meet that young man battling for his moments? Would you love him today. Forgive me for my silence if you wanted me to speak. Would you love him, meet him, and bring him through his battle. Help me extend grace and love to those left silent by my news. Thank you for letting me understand that silence in a new way today. Jesus would you give us all strength beyond ourselves and our comfort to meet another in pain. It’s so hard sometimes. We need you. Amen.