In the Trenches Together

Do you have a friend that you would move heaven and earth for if she needed it?

I have a couple people I love so deeply that when they hurt, I hurt.

Last week I spent every waking hour with one of those special women. My home was the ICU waiting room, her friends and family became mine. I fought a few battles on her behalf and dried a few tears. I cracked inappropriate jokes to make her laugh and said curse words to share in her anger and frustration. We spent a week in the trenches together, and it was sad and beautiful all in one breath.

Lots of people are telling me that I’m so great, so sacrificial, such a good friend. But the truth is, I’m not any of those things.

I am not great, I am weak. I offered my weak efforts of encouragement, prayer, grief, and laughter. But so many others came into that place strong – warriors ready to stand and fight, intercede, and more. I was just sitting beside my girlfriend.

I am not sacrificial, I am selfish. I wanted to feel like I was doing something – needed to feel it – so I went. I certainly missed my family this week, but the greater sacrifice was offered by all those who cared for them while I was away. My husband and his dad held down the fort here with 3 school-aged kids and a dog. A kind friend served them dinner one evening. My mom and dad took care of the two little kids, as did two blessed friends during the daytime hours. My father-in-law stood in the school gym watching one child receive an award at school. My parents held down a wailing child as a doctor wove two stitches of thread through a head-gash. While I spend hours in the company of a dear friend, they did all the hard stuff.

I am not a good friend, I am a pathetic friend. So pathetic that I needed to be by her side just as much as she may have needed me there (maybe more). I took my comfort in being there, hands-on, “in the loop.” In fact, there are these tiny twinges of feeling as though I’m missing out on something very special now that I am no longer having girlfriend sleepovers every night.

I can’t possibly be considered great, sacrificial, or a good friend when I gained so much more than I gave. I gained a deeper, truer, realer (I know, not a word) friendship. I gained a brother and a whole bunch of extended family. I gained perspective on what and who is important. I gained wisdom about planning for the future and protecting our family in the event of crisis. I had the joy of fellowshipping (another non-word) with my old church family. I saw and heard of hundreds of miracles. I got the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from being appreciated and needed.

It was a blessing to me, this past week. I felt so loved, so needed, so special. I thank you, Deb, for the privilege of being your friend. I am honored that you trusted me to be there with you and advocate for you. Seeing so many people love you and your family made my heart grow. And seeing your husband look at you and your kids with love in his eyes (following several days of unconsciousness) was an exceptional moment in my life. Our God is so big that I cannot possibly fathom it, but by allowing me to share in your first week of a long, long journey you allowed me a glimpse of the Miracle Worker at work. I miss you!




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Comments

  1. 1
    Heather says:

    That's what girlfriends do best!! We sit in the trenches and help each other crawl right back out of them!!

  2. 2
    debcarpenter says:

    So, I have decided. YOU are going to write my story. You will tell it with much more grace and much fewer swear words. Love you.

    Still in the trench,
    Deborah

  3. 3
    RefreshMom says:

    If we do end up rooming together at She Speaks, I'm afraid we'll never sleep because I can already see how much we have in common!

    I've been feeling like a bad friend this week myself. I studied psychology too, and had every intention of becoming a counselor. Part of the way through my degree though, I realized that people's real problems are so big, and I'm so bad at remaining professionally detached, that I'd either be terrible at it, consumed by it, or both.

    I've been feeling like that for the past week. Serious marital issues, financial and legal problems…so many things with so many friends I don't feel like I can do anything about.

    So when the opportunity arose to take some concrete steps to help in one situation, I was glad to give my time, compassion and resources. Being able to do something–anything–even for only one friend, lighten the burden I'd been feeling for so many.

    I've heard the question "Is it possible to ever give truly sacrificially, or is there always some kind of personal payoff that negates the altruistic aspect of the giving?"

    Perhaps not. But I think I'd rather be selfish in my giving than be selfish in my withholding. (I need to post that on my wall as a reminder because the latter comes so much more naturally.)

    Praying with you that God provides the means (for both of us) to fulfill His prompting to us at She Speaks.

    Mary Hampton

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