I sit in the doctor's office with my daughter. She is in excruciating pain. I tell her I wish I could take it for her. She says, "Yeah, two minutes later you'd be ready to give it back. You don't know how much this hurts." Maybe not. But that is why. That is why I would remove it from her. If I could.
I am watching a family I love fall apart. Helpless to stop it, I hurt for them. For all of them. I wish I was smarter...that I had better words. That I could make it ok.
A dearly loved one finds herself in a situation that seems desperate and hopeless. Sometimes I cannot separate myself from her pain. It smothers me, robbing me of sleep.
What does it mean to bear another's burdens?
I confess I am wrestling with this just now. Frequently I feel lost. Useless. Stupid. But truth keeps trying to press into me, sometimes despite my best efforts. Here is some of what it seems to say:
- Pain may have a role to play in the lives of those I love. It has been an important teacher in my own. To attempt to remove pain is to frustrate this process. Mercy may be in gently helping them to see this.
- I will never be wise enough. I will never have all the answers. That is not what is asked of me. But I can listen. I can give friends and loved ones a place to say the things they need to say. To do their own wrestling. I can ask questions that may help them think more deeply. Then, I must allow them to make their own choices, and love them persistently whether or not I agree with those choices. I have been loved like this. It has made all the difference.
- To own another's grief is not helpful to her or to me. It does not remove her pain. I serve her better by simply being with her. By sharing a meal, the warmth of my family and my fire, and my faith. By praying for her. Despair and prayer are antithetical. In prayer I am reminded that I am not dependent on my own resources. And she is not dependent on hers. This is very good news. For both of us. Prayer restores hope. And it might just be that this is what both of us need most.
I am a work in progress. This I know. More than anything, I want to love well. And standing with another in pain is a very important part of this.
Help me. How do you stand with another in pain? How have others stood with you?