Sudden changes, like an unexpected death or the abrupt removal of a parent, are shocking and devastating to everyone left behind. The parent left is severely tested. The now single parent is called to step up though they themselves are in tatters – in denial, shocked, hurting, angry …. Hardly functioning. In some situations, friends and family may not know that something has happened because of the deep sense of shame as well as the pain that the remaining parent carries.
I found myself in this place just four years ago. I had six kids with special needs (I was fostering a sibling group as well as parenting my three), a house, a huge yard, and homeschooling to think about. On top of that, I had social workers breathing down my neck; social workers who did not understand my trauma or the massive amount of shame strangling me. I hid. I was terrified to show my face. I was a bucket of need with a hole in the bottom, empty before the next drop could leave the faucet.
As I gradually invited and allowed people in, I was blessed and supported. Loved. I could hardly grasp this level of care. It has taken me nearly four years to realize that I have some of the most amazing friends in the world and that they REALLY do care for ME. When I have felt isolated and lonely, I have forgotten about these priceless treasures. I have hunted, looking for the elusive someone who can fill me, focusing on the empty bucket rather than the water, life and love coming out of that faucet. I needed (and still do, at times) a cold bucket of water (bottom still intact) thrown over my head to wake me up to the fact that I already have what I am looking for! God IS providing!
This is what I have:
Spend days painting and cleaning my house so it can be sold
Sit in the trenches of deep despair without taking it on
Sit with me as I pour out my broken heart again and again
Cook and deliver meals
Don’t judge when my house is a disaster…again, still
Tell me that I am loved
Take care of hard-to-take-care-of kids so I can have a break
Keep on reaching out when I am curled up in a ball ready to die
Act silly and laugh alongside until we are both crying
Snort when they laugh
Tell silly jokes
Invite me and my kids over for dinner and take food sensitivities into account
Contact me over and over again though I don’t do the same
Don’t ask questions even though there are so many
Don’t trash my former husband whose unacceptable choices created this mess
Ask thought provoking questions to help me process and to understand
Edit my blog and don’t judge me when my sentence structure stinks
Withhold unnecessary advice
Let me have my process even though they already have the answer
Act normal and share themselves with me
…are more precious than diamonds!!
Hold on to these friends! This isn’t about guilting or pressuring; this is about simple gratitude. Simple being the operative word. Tell your friends how much you appreciate them. Take them out for coffee and pfvay even when they won’t let you. Give them a hug. Send them a message just to say ‘hi’, to show appreciation, or to share a laugh. Reach out, even in teeny tiny ways if that is all you can muster because these friends are worth their weight and more in diamonds. These friends are Jesus with skin on. I am sooooo … blessed! How about you?
For more about self-care and reflection check out this post by clicking here.