October 2, 2020
My friend needed me. I knew it with everything in me, but she pushed me away. She avoided my calls and took several days to respond to my texts, if she responded at all.
The little bit of interaction I had with her always confirmed the deep sadness she battled, but I didn’t know why, and she wouldn’t share the real reason.
The answer she provided gnawed at me. I knew it couldn’t be the entire story.
At any other time, I would have camped out on her living room sofa to help her through the situation, even if she didn’t want to talk about it.
But COVID-19 provided the barrier she needed not to let me in the house.
It took weeks of my persistent calls, texts and notes sent through the mail before she finally opened up and shared.
And while I grieved that I was not there for her during the roughest moments, I chose not to scold her or make her feel guilty for excluding me but instead to be present for her going forward.
I’ve had those moments too, where you are most comforted by knowing someone is there and ready to help however and whenever needed, but they give you space to figure out exactly what it is you need.
It’s hard not to take silence or cryptic answers personally, especially from good friends.
It’s also hard to watch someone in pain and not be able to do something physically to help.
The anxiety and concern builds to almost unbearable levels when we care deeply.
I’m still learning how much is too much of pushing myself on friends in need and when to still show up even if the friend seems to be pushing me away.
No matter the situation, prayer remains vital, even if we don’t know exactly how to pray for our friend in that moment.
Maintaining a calm spirit and fine-tuning our observation skills also provide excellent assessments in finding specific ways to efficiently and effectively help those who are hurting.
Many times the opportunities to help are not what we expected nor even what we think would be helpful, but maintaining a willingness to help in ways that best help another rather than do what we might want truly makes a difference.
Trust your gut too. When someone comes to mind out of the blue or something seems off in some way, trust the impression you are sensing from the Holy Spirit.
And while all of this is much harder to do over screens and through virtual conversations, it’s still possible to look past what a person says and see what his or her eyes are telling you.
In a phone conversation, a person’s voice also provides clues, especially when there are long pauses of silence or a fragileness or sadness in the tone.
Our temptation may be to fill silence with talking and either ask nonstop questions or turn the conversation to ourselves, but those are the moments to just be and remind our friend how much we care.