It seems like I’ve been sick forever. Actually, it’s only been a few weeks since my cold turned to to a sinus infection, but it seems much longer! It never feels good to be in the midst of suffering, even if that suffering is temporary like a little cold. One day, as I sat on the couch surrounded by tissues, blankets, and bottles of water, my sweet Anna gave me a piece of paper. With her permission, I want to share what she wrote:
In one beautiful letter, my 9 year old daughter reminded me what it means to love someone through suffering. Her example has much to teach us. Whether you are loving someone through a temporary season of struggle or a seemingly endless one, here are just a few lessons I learned from Anna Marie that serve as a good reminder to us all.
- It’s ok to be sad (or mad) for someone you love.
Suffering sucks. It doesn’t do any good to pretend otherwise. When a loved-one is suffering, let’s not diminish their feelings by pretending them away. I used to do that. If something bad happened, I would try to distract it away. Now, when a loved one is hurting, I meet them where they are.
- We take turns.
Have you ever noticed that we trade roles in our close relationships? When one party is hurting, they lean on the other party to be strong and remind them of the greater truths. Then a season will change, and the roles reverse. It’s an ebb and flow and precisely why God brings precious people to walk with us during our journey. We would be wise to remember this when it seems easier to turn away rather than toward someone we love. They need us now, and we will need them soon.
- It’s all temporary.
Ok. This one is difficult. I am emerging from a suffering season that I thought would never end. People told me it would end, but in the darkness of the pit it was hard to believe. At the same time, I needed to hear it. It’s like when the therapist tells you to trust the process when you want a quick fix. It’s not.what.you.want.to.hear. But it doesn’t make it any less true. Suffering IS temporary. It may not be as easy for us as lifting a feather, as my dear Anna poetically wrote, but we have a God who is completely capable of seeing us through whatever we face.
- Give practical help.
It’s easy to say, “let me know what I can do,” and go on your merry way. Instead, say, “here’s what I’m going to do.”
I’m going to bring you a meal every Tuesday.
I’m going to go with you to your next appointment.
I’m going to treat you to a movie.
I’m going to send you a card twice a month.
Your loved ones probably won’t ask for the help they need, so don’t wait for them to ask!
- Never stop saying, I love you.
Hearing these three powerful words never gets old. Say it during a hug. Say it first thing in the morning. Say it last thing at night. Say it on your way out the door. Say it in a text. Say in on a note. Say it, say it, say it. There is nothing more powerful than love.
Thank you, Anna Marie, for your love, compassion, and reminders that I am not alone. I am never alone.
Post originally published by Laura Fleetwood on SeekingTheStill.com.
What happens when a carefully crafted life crumbles? Read Laura’s story.