For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Better Answer--Part 3, The Power of a Kind Word

In A Better Answer--Part 1, The Power of Embracing Pain, I addressed a friend's question on how to help people who are hurting, who have suffered great loss, or who have endured trauma. I presented the simple truth: you will never be able to help someone through their pain unless you are willing to get right into the pain with them. To get through the healing, you have to start in the pain.

In A Better Answer--Part 2, The Power of a Wordless Presence, I said sometimes it is impossible to find something to say to someone who is hurting because there simply is nothing to say. It is then that one loves by simply listening.

But as I said in part 2, if all we are is silent, we send a message loud and clear, and it isn't what we really want to say. Silence echoes with abandonment, which is the exact opposite of what we are trying to communicate.

So what do we say? How do we find words when we know there aren't any?

Well, I can tell you some things that helped us.

I know it may seem impersonal, but emails, cards, and texts were God-sends. Even now, I remain amazed at the perfect timing, the perfect words, the perfect...perfectness of these precious messages.

Some people sent verses. Some people simply said they loved us. Some were honest and said, "I don't know what to say, but you are on my mind daily, and I keep you in my prayers."

Even when I was most angry and fighting it out with God, those words were gold. I kept every one of those cards. I would print out the emails and put them in my journal to read and reread and read again.

They are priceless.

Sometimes I read a verse or that someone was praying for us, and I didn't like it because God and I were working through things, but I knew one day I would read them and thank God. I knew the anger and fighting were part of the journey and eventually, we'd be--I would be--fine.

Some people wrote me memories of Rob, and I treasure those. I cried when I received them, but I've read them since. Cried some. Laughed a lot. Thanked God profusely.

And I keep thinking what courage it took to write those words, to write any words.

You know, it is perfectly valid to simply say, "I don't know what to say."

People would say that, and I would say, "I know. Me either." And I didn't. I knew these people were in shock. I knew they had lost a friend. I knew they were hurting too either with us or for us, and I had no idea what to tell them either.

People would say they were sorry, and I knew they were.

I've read the words, "I want to say something, but I have no idea what to say. Just know you're in my heart." Perfect.

Now, let's say you can't hide behind a computer or a phone. Then what?

First of all, I know you are afraid of saying the wrong thing. You are afraid of making someone angry or making them cry or...sticking your foot in your mouth huge.

I will tell you what I told a friend of mine who was finding her way through loss. I said:

"I'm going to say the wrong thing.
I'm going to make jokes when I shouldn't.
I'm going to be depressing when you need me to be funny.
I'm going to say the right thing, and you are going to cry anyway, and sometimes I'm going to cry with you.
I may simply sit and stare at you, not because I think you are crazy but because I think my words are useless.
I'm going to do something right one day, and it'll be wrong the next day, and you will scream at me and rage at me and wonder why you bother trying to talk to me.
Then suddenly your anger will be spent, you'll apologize...or not.
There will be times you thank God for me, and times when you tell Him what a lousy friend I am.
There will be times I miss the clue that you need me here. There are times I'll show up, and you'll wish I would really go away.
In all of it, I'm still with you."

And THAT is what you need to say, in whatever words you find. You need to say that you know this is the rollercoaster from hell, but you are in anyway.

I don't know what those words are. I can't give you exact answers to every situation. What I would tell you is don't react to the words. Respond to the heart.

Words are just words.

The heart is the fragile treasure.

I know. This did not give the definitive answers we would all like. As I've said, I've walked through some hard stuff, and I have learned a horrible unfair truth: Just because I understand pain doesn't mean I always know how to alleviate it, but I know how to stand there. I know how to apologize for missing it even when I had the best of intentions, and I know how to laugh at jokes that seem morbid to anyone who has not walked this road. I know how to hand kleenexes, listen to stories, keep my eyes dry in their presence and sob to God on their behalf in my bedroom. I know the courage it takes to ride the rollercoaster no matter what it looks like in any given moment on any given day...because even though the rollercoaster changes with breathtaking speed, only a coward walks out on a friend who is raging in their pain.

If they are courageous to get through, I'm courageous enough to walk through with them.

And the whole time I'm in it with them, I'm seeking and praying for words and ways to tell them one simple thing:
I know you are in your own personal hell, but I love you, and as hard as this is, I'm still in.