How do you love a friend when it’s hard? That’s the question we’re answering here at Facets of Faith this month. Tracy and Jen started the conversation — be sure to check out their posts by clicking on their names.
For me (Kim)? Well, now it’s my turn.
I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my friends, especially those who loved me enough to stand in the gap when life got hard.
Sounds dramatic, but it’s true.
When my five-year-old daughter died from smoke inhalation in a fire that destroyed our home, and her dad lie in an ICU bed with injuries suffered from that fire, my world became the definition of a life turned hard.
But my friends didn’t turn away from the destruction, they drew near and stood in the gap for me.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17, NIV
They loved me in practical ways like bringing diet pepsi and pretzels to a hospital 30 miles from home, simply because they knew I needed to eat and those were my favorite. They loved me as they spent the night in the waiting room of the hospital so I wouldn’t be alone if word came that my sweet Emma had died. They loved me as they told me it was okay to buy my favorite perfume to replace the one I lost in the fire, and then stood up for me after I chewed out a lady for not selling a particular perfume set that I wanted.
They loved me as they shopped with me for clothes my girls and I would wear to Emma’s funeral. Then, they loved me as they stood next to me as I stood next to her little casket.
My friends did more than those practical things . . . so much more. They comforted me with hugs and smiles and offered tender words of encouragement. They reminded me that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t forgotten.
My friends shared their strength as they sat and listened while I processed all that happened. They didn’t try to fix anything; life was simply too broken to fix. But they helped make it bearable, endurable, even if for a moment. They validated my tears and sorrow as they wept with me. When my life turned upside, they reminded me of all that was right-side up.
My friends prayed for me. They interceded and pleaded on my behalf, asking the Holy Spirit to minister to me in those deepest, darkest spaces where no one else could go, places no one else could see. Their prayers changed everything. They impacted my life in ways I won’t understand this side of heaven. I borrowed their faith when I had none.
I know this journey wasn’t easy on them. My friends were tired, downright exhausted. My life was messy, and that mess clung to them. There were days I wondered if they would give up on me, on the entire situation, days when they needed a break from the heaviness. I wondered because there were days when I wanted the exact. same. thing. A moment to breathe with the fullness of my lungs, without the weight of sorrow pressing me down.
There were days I longed for my weariness to end so my friends didn’t have to experience it with me. When I could pretend that life is okay and laugh away the minutes, all to give them a reprieve, to lighten their load.
But honestly, those days were few and far in between. Many days I didn’t feel like a very good friend. I felt, more often than not, I was that friend, the one who was difficult to love. Not because I was particularly difficult, but my circumstances sure were. And because they were, I didn’t have much to give back to my friends. I received so much more than I gave.
But these friends, these war buddies of mine, they didn’t give up even when it was hard. They stood in the gap and showered me with love — the life-giving, grace-filled love typically found in the pages of Scripture, but rarely in every day life quite like this. My friends? Oh, they loved me well. And for that, I am forever grateful.
Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, NIV
How do you love a friend when it’s hard? Have you ever been on the receiving end? Jump in and join the conversation below or over on our Facebook page.