I learned a really important lesson this morning and something about myself that I'm not super proud of. I have a friend that is going through a really difficult time--the difficulty of her current situation is the direct result of the decisions of others that are completely outside of her control. The only thing she has control of is her reaction to it and she is handling this trial with dignity and grace, staying true to who she is a completely devoted to the things that are most important to her.
She has really needed support, and to someone who is accustomed to playing the support role, I imagine that is a difficult place to be in. Well, today was a day where I knew she could have used support....and I wanted to give it. I planned to offer it. Logistics started to get in the way, but rather than keep my mouth shut and muddy through the logistics, I mentioned that I was "trying to work things out" and would "do my best" but I wasn't positive that I could. Her response was, of course, "oh Julie! Don't even worry about it! It's no big deal!" So I kind of let myself off the hook, comforted by the though that "she knows I tried."
Well, I woke up this morning, the day of this medium-significant event, and I felt this nagging in my heart. I had made other plans for this morning and could not shake the feeling that I needed to change everything. So I started to....I texted friends to ask if they could help me with the juggle a little bit, asked the sitter to show up early so I could leave early, and in the process, exchanged texts with a friend saying that I was going to come. We went back and forth with her reassuring me it was not a big deal and me assuring her it was OK and I got things worked out.
I got dressed, put on makeup, curled my hair....and when I texted to say I was coming, I was told not to worry about it. I started to get insecure, wondering if I wasn't wanted. It was at that point that my sister sent me a text that gave me the perspective that I needed and taught me a pretty important lesson. She said "these are the moments when you JUST SHOW UP." You do not ask a struggling friend how important it is to them that you be there--do not put the burden of decision on them. If you feel like you should, then DO. Don't wonder, question, vacillate, over-talk, analyze, think....DO.
At this point, I was super irritated with myself. I was that friend that annoys me--when they commit to or talk about doing something that isn't convenient and you can tell, but then they keep telling you its important to them and they wish it would work. Well, if something is important to you, you show that by doing it. You give your time to what is most important to you. Talking about it does not prove it is a priority--doing something about it does.
I was annoying myself with all of my back-and-forth about this....I felt like a crazy person because I KNEW (felt) what I needed to do and my desire to do the right thing was at odds with my desire not to burden others and to take care of my kids and....blah blah. So it wasn't like I was being a slacker. But I got kicked upside the head by the Spirit (that is that "feeling" I'm describing) that I needed to show up today. So I ignored the "don't worry about it" comments and I'm sitting on the stairs outside of the courthouse right now, waiting to give my friend a hug, feeling embarrassed by my psyho-ness but grateful for the prompting to JUST SHOW UP.
As I reflected on the drive, I realized that I am a great friend when people come to me. I can listen, counsel, process, think through things, and offer help. But I often find myself allowing things to come to me and waiting for things to be clear to me before taking any action. I use the excuse in my head that my life is "different" and sometimes hard...that there are a lot of balls in the air...that things are complicated. There is something so beautiful about the person who just shows up, vulnerable, unsure what they will even offer, just because they love you and want you to know you are important enough to them to be there and risk that vulnerability that they might not even be wanted in that moment. I have had those friends....one showed up with flowers on my porch as I was going through a particularly hard time....one who texted without any clue why she felt like she should text me and feeling kind of dumb because she didn't even know what to say....one who showed up on my porch when I had an infant and drove Liam to preschool--and then kept showing up to do that against my (feeble) protests....
I admire those people. And yet, because I hate to be vulnerable (except when I write, apparently) and because I struggle to find time for everything that needs to happen in 24 hours a day, I neglect to give the greatest gift a friend can by just showing up.
Embarrassment is a great motivator. Because I'm so horrified with myself today, its easy to want to commit to do better. But I genuinely feel grateful for my ignorance today because it caused me to really think about this and to recognize a blind spot. We've all got 'em. But as I sit here, not sure if I'll be embraced or eye-rolled when my friend walks out (vulnerable), I'm still glad I decided to SHOW UP today....for my sake, if nothing else.