Finding a way to keep going when there’s little relief in sight
I must say it has been one of the unexpected pleasures of life I have found by writing. Freelance writing and blogging is a job that is lonely in its core. Similar to when Tom Hanks was stranded on the island, and his only friend was Wilson…a volleyball. Sometimes that is exactly how it feels. I’m doing a lot of talking, but it’s just Wilson who is listening. Never responding. But present.
Marriage too can be quite lonely at times. Each spouse working full-time jobs, travel requirements, military placements, and staying home with the children. Loneliness hurts, and it’s never fun.
That is…until I received a letter in my email
One such friend did exactly that. Yes, I use word “friend” in its real sense. A few months ago, this person did exactly that. They asked me a question, and I responded. And then last week, I saw their name pop up in my email again with the question, “Is all well?”
Is All Well?
It’s amazing how those three little words were like a calming presence to me. Relief. A break.
Another email came in from that caring soul. More comforting words, truths that I needed to hear and be reminded of. Empathy. Kindness. Friendship…Love.
That is the amazing thing about friendship. The power of presence and empathy can be communicated across vast distances even through the virtual cloud and cyberspace.
Bréne Brown summed it up quite perfectly when she said:
Empathy doesn’t require that we have the exact same experiences as the person sharing their story with us…Empathy is connecting with the emotion that someone is experiencing, not the event or the circumstance.
The Right Presence equals Comfort
Sometimes, when I’m going through a rough time, all I want to do is be left alone. For a while, that is good for me. It helps me to gather my thoughts. To calm me down
But only for a while.
It cannot last very long. Too much silence is hurtful in life and in marriage. Physical silence often lends itself to mental arguments. The voices in my head keep talking; louder and louder they become until I become even angrier and depressed.
The presence of a kind friend or my husband brings comfort to me. It lets me know that I’m not alone. Words do not always have to be exchanged here. Jokes don’t have to be told. Sermons do not have to be preached. Simply the silence and the presence of a friend brings comfort to my heart.
A Word Fitly Spoken…is Pure Gold
I like gold. My wedding band and engagement ring are both made out of gold. My earrings are gold. I’m convinced my ears can sniff out fake gold faster than most jewelers. I can’t wear anything less than solid 10–14k gold earrings or I’m left with painful, red, infected, itchy ears. Even those cheaper earrings that have a gold finish? Not a chance. My ears know the difference in less than 24 hours.
Reading both of these letters from my friend (my caring soul) was like looking at pure gold, and realizing it was all mine. I was rich! These words were exactly what I needed to see and read. It didn’t matter that their voice was not heard audibly, the written words were just as powerful.
The next time you see someone who is struggling, going through sorrow, or simply having a bad day. Be that caring soul for them.
Mirror their response. If they are quiet, then be quiet. If they want to talk, then let them talk. Of course, if the situation and the friendship allow, crack that joke and laugh together. Share verses one or two verses of comforting Scripture. Pray with them and for them. Offer to help in the situation — pick up groceries, take them a meal, or even get them some flowers. Help with the children, give the parenting spouse a night off if possible. Be the friend that they need you to be.
Dealing with the Pain means Acceptance
This one can be very difficult. As a person who is an optimist, I don’t like feeling sad…ever! I’d rather be happy. Not Pollyanna happy…but pretty close. The problem with always being happy and seeing the positives, means the negatives are never dealt with. The issues are not worked through.
I’ve come to learn, if I don’t work through them, then I just bury them for a long time until they resurface in some nasty ways. As I am able to accept my feelings for what they are *and not rush through this stage* the easier it is on the opposite side.
That is what my friend meant when she said:
Going through the pain is not easy, but know that “this too shall pass”
There are no shortcuts around the pain of emotions that work. If you do take a shortcut, they are like bandages on top of an infected wound. It may help for a day, but the festering wound will continue to worsen and hurt. Until the moment comes, that you have to rip off that wound and reopen all the pain to let the infection comes out. *hint* It’s ugly, awful, and nasty process.If right now, you are struggling more than you think you can handle…reach out to someone. Ask for help. The mountain that you are ascending does not have to be climbed alone. Click To Tweet
As you go through the pain, the healing can occur in a proper way. You will be able to release the emotions when they are ready.
No, the actual event that caused the pain does not have to lived over and over again. Just the emotions of the event have to be acknowledged, accepted and released when you’re ready.
Acceptance requires time
If you have ever baked a loaf of yeast bread, you will know that letting the bread rise a long enough amount of time is crucial. You can’t speed up the process very easily. Oh sure, you can add a bit more sugar to the recipe to help the yeast be active faster. You can place it in a warm, moist environment to help the bread rise. But it still requires TIME for the bread to rise and proof. There isn’t an instant button or microwave setting to be in done in 10 seconds.
Acceptance of your emotions and feelings of a painful situation also requires time. If you rush through this process, you will be left hard and dense…just like a loaf of bread that didn’t proof correctly. How long does it take? It varies for every situation. It may take an hour, a week, a month.
Proofing the best loaf of bread sometimes means there are multiple stages in the rising process. Emotionally, it is the same way. You may have to go through that emotion two or three times (or five) until you can accept and release it completely.
Hold on. Don’t give up. Yes, it’s painful and hurtful. But there is hope; there is an end to difficulties. Or at least, a lessening of the pain that you are experiencing. It doesn’t always hurt and suffocate you, the sun will shine again. You will see those blue skies again…one day.
And if right now, you are struggling more than you think you can handle…reach out to someone. Ask for help. The mountain that you are ascending does not have to be climbed alone.
Previously published on The Ascent on June 23, 2018