“I just don’t want to say the wrong thing.”
This is something I frequently hear and I can be honest, yes, sometimes people say the “wrong thing”. At times, it’s intentional, someone suffering “worse” than you and wanting to cut into your heart so it makes them feel better. (I will never understand this.) But other times, it’s simply someone saying something with good intentions but with naivety to your emotions and it catches you off guard, causing you pain as you reflect on the conversation.
Both offenses are forgivable with the right heart. The intentional persons words being dismissed and often causing me more sadness to know that someone is struggling so much and without any joy. The naïve friend’s words let go because I know their hearts are in the right place, even if the words stung.
But what I am learning is that it’s the people who say nothing that hurt the most.
It’s the people who know you had a tough week and avoid eye contact and walk the other way. It’s the friends who don’t respond to your text messages when you need them the most. It’s the awkward land when you know they know what’s going on and yet you never hear from them.
I am constantly touched by the people who reach out, the ones who send emails, texts, Facebook messages, cards. I can’t tell you how much it fills my heart to get a message from someone I haven’t talked to in 10 years letting me know I am in their prayers. When people share that they have cried with us, it moves me in a way that is difficult to put into words. It means something. It’s not awkward, in fact, if you have been following along quietly on someone’s story – anyone’s! – I strongly encourage you to reach out. It’s the supporters that come along side us that mean so much, it keeps us going.
You may not know what to say. You know what’s perfectly acceptable? Admitting “I don’t know what to say, I just want you to know I am thinking about you.” You don’t know what to do? Send a card. You don’t have their address? Send a Facebook message or ask a mutual friend. This doesn’t just go for someone dealing with infertility, this applies to anyone struggling with something painful. The loss of a family member. Being let go from a job. Struggling with financial payments. Hearing news that a spouse wants to separate. Surviving a miscarriage. Watching a wayward child make painful decisions. Hearing of an illness. Dealing with post partum depression. Just feeling a little lost.
I have dropped the ball many times. I hear about a friend who has gone through something difficult and mean to pick up the phone, and then too much time passes and I never do. I see a Facebook status about a tough time and have the best intentions to connect, but forget. I have many cards and emails that go unwritten and phone calls that don’t get placed.
So often we don’t want to say the wrong thing, which is why I am a firm believer in simple words like “praying for you” (only if you really are) or “thinking about you”. The power of a $5 gift card to a local coffee shop or a bouquet of flowers dropped off at their door goes a long way. It doesn’t need to be something huge; it just needs to be something that says I care. It doesn’t need to be financial, many aren’t in the place to do that, it just needs to be something.
When you are at a low point, when the circumstances around you seem suffocating, it can often be painful to face the day. I remember after one of my miscarriages wondering around Cub Foods in a daze, somewhat shocked that people were smiling and laughing and talking about the weather. But it’s in those moments, when someone comes up besides me and just reminds me that I’m not alone, well, it means the world to me.
Shauna Niequist writes “When you are in that place, it’s a gift to be asked how you’re doing, and most of the time the answer comes tumbling out, like water over a broken dam, because someone finally asked, finally offered to carry what feels like an unbearable load with you.”
The simplest questions go a long way. What can I do? How are you feeling? Do you want to talk about it? Please be respectful of the location in which you ask these questions. If you are whizzing past someone in the church lobby, gently touch their arm and say “Hey, I saw what’s been going on with _____ . I just want you to know you are in my thoughts. I’m really sorry you have to deal with this.” The church lobby (or any very busy place) is NOT the place to say “Hey, I heard you miscarried last week. Tell me how you are feeling. How are you dealing with this?”
Don’t feel like you have to say something profound. It’s not about you having the magic words as it is about the person you are talking to simply knowing you care. If you have the resources, send a gift card for a dinner (Chipotle or Buffalo Wild Wings can brighten anyone’s day, right?) or make a meal. A note or text goes a long way. Just remember that your words, your care, might be exactly what the person needs to survive another day. Life is hard, we need to be there for one another.
And please, when you ask someone how they are, give them the option to say “I don’t want to talk about it right now.” Some days it hurts too much and you are too vulnerable to want to discuss it. That’s when simply knowing someone cares enough to ask means so much.
I apologize to anyone who I have let down by not being there. I am amazed at how my heart aches when I feel let down by a friend who doesn’t seem to care and I know that I likely am the cause of such heartache too. It can be a tough cycle to break outside of yourself and your own difficult season to show you care. But it’s worth it. We live in a world of vague Facebook posts hinting at something difficult and yet, many of us are too afraid to send the message to say “What’s up? Are you okay? I’m not sure what you are going through but I notice.”
So do me a favor today, do something for someone. (No, this isn’t about me. Do something for someone else. I am incredibly blessed.) Maybe it’s a comment on their Facebook wall or Instagram picture. Perhaps it’s grabbing a card at Target or sending an electronic gift card. It may be time for you to pick up the phone and send a text or make a call. Even something as simple as “liking” a Facebook post or blog post simply acknowledges that you know and care. Chances are as you are reading this, you are thinking about who that person is that you should reach out to. Do it. It may mean much more than you know.
In other news, my surgery has been scheduled and will be taking place THIS Friday, the 4th at 9:00 am. I met with the doctor earlier this week and feel very confident going into it. We will know what was done, removed, and briefly seen that same day and then I will meet with her on the 18th to review all the pictures taken and talk about what was seen in more detail. Thank you in advance for all your prayers as we go into this. Specific prayer requests would include:
- Surgery itself: for the hands of the doctors and nurses working with me, for the anesthesia, for the pain management afterwards and for whatever needs to be done in the operating room to go smoothly.
- Minimal discoveries: we are praying hard that no body part needs to be removed (ie: fallopian tubes, ovaries, etc.) and that if there is anything found, that it can be treated easily while they are in there, avoiding a second surgery.
- Recovery – The surgery itself is done by filling the abdomen with gas and recovery afterwards can be painful since not all the gas can always be removed. The incisions (typically 3-4 plus your belly button) can get itchy and we are praying against infection.
- Answers: at the end of the day, we pray that God will provide us with some answers and wisdom as to what is going on.
Thank you again for your prayers. We are heading into this surgery after having a nice relaxing vacation with Josh’s family in Mexico last week and so I leave you with a few pictures of what our last week held. Gorgeous isn’t it? I’ll update as soon as I am able post-op. Thanks again for your prayers!