Finding grace in the dance of showing up

Wednesday afternoon found me at David C. Cook in a meeting about the upcoming release of Just Show Up. I wasn’t sure what to expect—I’ve never been in a meeting like that. Surprisingly, I found myself fighting tears: the team spoke so highly of Kara and wanting to preserve her legacy and her ministry of finding grace in the hard and loving big. I was moved. So moved. And I knew that if I let the floodgates open, I wouldn’t be able to close them. So I gulped the tears back down and hopefully continued on in a semi-intelligent, coherent manner.

Later that day, sitting on Jill’s couch, I recounted the meeting to her. Tears threatened then, too, as we chatted about the book and the events surrounding it and, of course, Kara’s absence. And then, just as the babies and I were leaving, Jill gave me a copy of the book.

Side note: I never asked Kara to sign The Hardest Peace for me. I asked her to sign other friends’ copies, but never mine. And though it’s a small thing, I regret not having her words to me written in my copy of her book. It stings.

So of course I asked Jill to sign Just Show Up for me.

Thursday morning I gathered the courage to read Jill’s inscription. Lovely, full of love, designed—I’m sure—to make me cry. Then I randomly flipped the book open to the middle and read 4 pages. Friends, I’ve read this book. I read it months ago. Yet for some reason, it was as though I had never read a single page—I was transfixed. I couldn’t stop reading and only did when I heard angry baby screams in the next room.

Some of you have asked me to share my testimony. What an honor that would be! I have started writing it out, but I will share this: when I was 20 years old, my parents were killed in a car accident. I was a junior in college. It was a tricky season of life because while I lived on campus, I no longer had a home to go to on breaks or the weekend or over summer. Campus had to become my home; there was no other sanctuary. I was there All The Time. It was hard. I couldn’t escape the stares and whispers. I hated walking to class or the dining hall alone. People said awkward, hurtful things. Friends did their best to love and protect and support me well, walking to class with me and always being by my side; I remember one friend even coming by on his way home from class every day just to check in. But none of us had experienced such a loss and we were clumsy in our love and I was clumsy in my grief and communicating what I needed. I remember my RD’s wife offering to do my laundry. What a lovely gift! But I didn’t know how to accept, even though I needed to.

Dealing with others’ attempts to comfort me was almost as exhausting as the grief. And I am sure that my friends were equally exhausted trying to figure out how best to draw near to me and deal with my overwhelming, unpredictable emotions. A close friend recently apologized for what she perceived as ignorant attempts at comfort during that time. How my heart broke hearing her words! Of course I don’t remember there being anything to forgive, but knowing that she has been carrying that burden for 17 years made my heart sink.

I wish she had been able to read Just Show Up 17 years ago. I wish she had the opportunity to be affirmed and encouraged by Jill and Kara’s words. I wish that she had met the grace waiting for us in those pages.

My sisters and I often wished at the time for a book that would gently encourage comforters, those who are called to walk with the suffering. And now, after 17 years, that book is here. It is perfect. It is just what I wanted to read 17 years ago, what I would have wanted my friends to read, and what I need to read today. I am so excited for the world to hear Jill and Kara’s gentle voices, to experience their pursuing hearts, to be refreshed by their words of love and affirmation.

We will be reading this together as a community once people have had a bit of time to get a copy. Remember, it comes out October 1. Let’s dance together; let’s look for grace together.

Just a reminder: if you are interested in connecting, encouraging, praying for, and building community with other readers (and being blessed beyond your imagination!), please join our new MFC (Mundane Faithfulness Community) group on Facebook: