Friday, October 20, 2017
The Wounds of a Friend
Several weeks ago, Alyssa came over on my darkest day. I was physically, emotionally, and mentally at my lowest point. I had stayed home from work. I felt like a failure--helpless and hopeless. I was completely overwhelmed to the point where even picking up a sock on the floor felt beyond my capability.
She cried with me. She listened. And listened. And listened some more. She asked lots of questions.
Over the next couple of days, Alyssa continued to come over for several hours a time. Sometimes she just sat with me. Sometimes she made me laugh. Sometimes she nagged me to eat.
Towards the end of that particularly low week, we were in my kitchen, and I was fretting about the various ways I was trying to fix myself. Should I try [this particular method]? I asked her.
She paused for a moment. Then she looked me straight in the eye and said, Amy, before you try anything else, I think you need to stop believing lies. About yourself. About God. Then she listed them for me. You know what is true, and you need to start believing it.
She was direct. And firm. And it was exactly what I needed to hear.
Two years ago, I wrote a blog called When I Am Not Sane. At the end I wrote, If I ever get to Ground Zero again, I will get help a lot sooner than I did the first time. But my first line of offense would be to get others in my life to help me fight the battle for what is True.
Emotions can be untamed horses. They can define our universe. They can overwhelm us with lies and conquer rational thought. And sometimes, it's not a battle we can fight on our own. We need those friends who will battle it with us, and pound the Truth into our heads. Even if it hurts.
This goes against our instincts in friendship. We want to make each other feel good. Oh, of course that dress doesn't make you look fat! Of course you're not a terrible mother. Of course you had every right to say that to your husband. We fish for compliments and vindication and our friends happily oblige. That's what makes a good friend....right?
Except, sometimes what we want to hear is not what we need to hear. If I had a brain tumor, I wouldn't want the surgeon to tell me, Oh don't worry, you look great! Just ignore those pesky headaches. I'm sure you will be just fine!
No, no! I would want him to shave my head and cut me open and remove the alien mass from my head. I wouldn't care if it left a scar, or if it made me feel miserable, or if I was in pain for days. I would want it out.
Proverbs says, Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Sometimes, we need friends who will be that surgeon. Not just someone to hold our hand or whisper soothing words, but someone who will confront the tumor and battle with us to destroy it.
I say this carefully. Many have been unnecessarily wounded by well-meaning people who make the problem worse, not better. Quoting Bible verses glibly to a person in pain or grief is certainly not helpful. There is a time for prayers, physical presence, and silence. But Alyssa did it right: She already knew me very well, she gave me her time, her compassion, her help, and when the time was right, she told me the Truth.
She wasn't the only one. Gil has been a faithful speaker of Truth into my life (and incredibly patient with me) these past few months. There are many others--I started to list them, then was afraid I would miss someone--but they know who they are.
It's hard to know for sure, but I think I'm on the upward slope of this season in the desert. And I owe so much to the friends who were willing to walk with me, encourage me...and wound me. I want to keep friends like that in my life. I want to be that kind of friend.