It is one of the hardest, most painful things in the world to watch a friend go through what you experienced yourself; a difficult, agonizing experience. It is my instinct to try and prevent that from happening, to protect her from the misery I endured.
I see myself so clearly in her: hurt by someone, desperately wanting the pain to go away, wanting to just be over him already, frustrated that I can’t seem to let go, can’t seem to stop liking him, no matter how hard I try; feeling like the harder I try, the worse it gets… And then having moments of breakthrough, good times with God, when I think I’ve found my peace and healing and satisfaction, walking away thinking that I’m okay, that I managed to get over him. Rejoicing in that, not realizing that that was just one step out of many I would need to take in the healing process. So then, falling back into the same old feelings and being doubly disappointed because I thought I’d triumphed already. Hugely discouraged because I realize I’m not really over him after all, jaded and dulled because I could’ve sworn that triumph was real, could’ve sworn I found real peace, real contentment. Feeling deceived and cheated; hopeless, and as a result, sinking in deeper, when in actual fact, that triumph and peace and contentment was real. It was all real. But the journey’s just not over yet; it’s only beginning.
I know this story, I know how it goes. I empathize completely with the anxiousness to feel better, the desperate grasping at pictures of blue skies, the relief when you take hold of them… I rejoice in that with her. But I fear the myopia thus far undetected. I know it’s there, I know it’s a main character in this story. So I rejoice, but I fear rejoicing too much, lest I encourage the thinking that the journey has reached its end and thus set her up for a greater fall when the next dip comes around. I want to warn her, protect her, keep her from experiencing that pain…
But perhaps that is not my role to play. I am here to support her. To share the joy and the pain, fully. I must learn to recognize that as much as we want to keep our loved ones from experiencing the pain we did and learning things the hard way, sometimes that is simply how they must learn, and trying to stop that can actually stunt their growth. Pain is part of how we learn. We can’t prevent it. But we can be there to share it. So share it, I will… The best that I can.
I am not God. I cannot – and must not try to – save you, as much as I would like to. But I will be here. I cannot pull the band-aid off your wound for you, but I can hold your hand as you do.