I’ll never forget the evening I was cleaning the restrooms at our church. I was all alone. My dad had just passed away, and my heart was hurting deeply. I was crying pretty hard, when a couple from church happened to show up. It wasn’t planned. They didn’t know I was there. They came to clean too. I tried to gain my composure before they saw me. When they did, she smiled~until she realized I was crying. And then she hugged me. She didn’t speak, she just allowed me to cry. She knew, because she had been down this path herself…
My husband has pastored here in our little town since 1995, and even though our church is small, we have had a very large amount of heartache. One of the hardest things about ministering in the same place for so long is having to see our dear ones go through this heartache~
or having to say goodbye to them as they leave this earth.
I honestly think the ladies that have graced the hallways of my little church are super heroes. So many of my sisters in Christ have literally been through horrific heartache and trauma, and yet they stand faithful in their walk with God.
I have seen their children, young and old, taken from this world. I have seen spouses suffer and die. I have seen illness and disease invade their fragile bodies. I have seen precious memories lost to dementia. I have seen infertility and miscarriage. I have seen abuse and infidelity. I have seen marriages end. I have seen wayward children and financial loss. I have seen their pain over and over again.
And I have seen their light shine. Their smile. Their praise. Their faithfulness. Their strength. And I am undone. I am in awe. Because I know it can only be of God.
And then there is me. I am not strong.
My heart feels it would crumble when faced with similar circumstances. I get scared, anxious and even depressed. I am an introvert. When heartache hits home, my personality wants to hide. I don’t want to be with people. I don’t want to talk about it, and I don’t want to pretend I’m okay in public. Too often, I fake it.
It’s much easier for me to talk about heartache when I can hide behind a laptop screen. I can encourage, but also allow the tears to flow. But when I am in the middle of that pain, it’s much harder for me to be an encouragement and show up, let alone talk about it face to face.
But my ladies have shown up.
They have talked about it.
And I have listened.
The ladies of my church have forged through the deep and dark. They have left a clear path for me to walk through. They have stood on the other side smiling back at me, shining their light as a beacon of hope and encouragement.
Some have left and gone home to heaven, but they were faithful until their last breath. Others are here with me still. Still fighting the battle.
Still smiling. Still praising…
I don’t think they know how much of an impact they have had on my life. They cheer me on and are living testimonies of God’s words without even realizing. God’s words that proclaim~
When I am weak I am strong~
The peace that passes understanding~
I will send you a comforter~
I will never leave you or forsake you~
All things work together for the good~
Let your light so shine~
Comforting others the same way God has comforted you~
Pressing toward the mark and standing on the Rock~
And having done all… to stand.
And I know, that if they can do it, I can too. I can be strong through Christ. Their strength gives me strength. I can have the peace that passes understanding. I can be comforted and be a comforter. I can let my light shine, and stand when I think I am too weak and will surely fall.
That’s why it’s so important to stay in God’s word, continually talking to Him and being reminded of His promises. And that is why it is so important to have precious godly friends. Friends that lean into the arms of Jesus, and then draw you in with them. Friends who pray for you and encourage you in your pain. Friends who have walked through it, and sit with you in it.
And that’s why it’s so important to encourage others if you have already gone down that path. So that you can always remind them~
We can’t do this life without Jesus, but with Jesus~ nothing is impossible.
And so, I look at my own heart. What kind of friend will I be? What kind of friend will you be? Will we lean into Jesus or hide our light in the loneliness of despair?
Of this one thing I am sure~ someone out there needs your light. Someone needs your testimony. Someone needs to walk behind you and know in their desperation that, with God’s power they will make it. Someone needs to see you leaning into Jesus and someone needs you to pull them in with you. To encourage and cheer them on. To smile and reach out your hand from the other side. Someone needs you.
We just have to show up.
2 Corinthians 12:9&10
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
1 Thessalonians 5:11-13