A friend of mine's son is dying. I don't have words. What can you say? I keep seeing the boy's face, and while my mind processes that logically he doesn't look like that anymore-for it was nine years ago that I saw him in person- I can't help but see the same sweet face when I think of him and pray for him. My daughter is now roughly the same age he was then, and... he's too young. He's just too young to die.
I see my friend last night at work, and in our large organization we haven't worked in an immediate work group together for nine years but he was just transferred. I'm startled to see him standing before me. I don't know that I would be able to put my pants on and lace up my boots and get to work if my kid was doing so bad. I text my husband later that I don't know what to say. What's even worse is that is exactly what I said to my friend also: 'I just don't know what to say, I'm praying for him and you every day.' Later my husband tells me, there's nothing you can say. And I'm not good at that. At doing nothing. At saying nothing. Nothing.
My husband has me on a 'put it down' plan. And what he means by that is I have a tendency to pick up other's burdens. I think it comes from the 'NF' as in the Myers Briggs' personality traits of intuition plus feeling. When your middle two are NF it can make you an external empath. So it's like having your heart outside of you all the time, but not on your sleeve necessarily, think more like a go-go-gadget heart that punches outward to give to people. It even has a handy case around it to keep it relatively safe but the trick is not giving it out, all of it, and that I am not good at either. We feel deeply for others. Often, and especially in the case with me, we seem to get where others are coming from and feeling better than we understand our own selves.
So I have to be reminded to Put. It. Down. Or to put them down. Otherwise I'll carry it all. Every friend's hard thing. Every death. Every grieving father. I pick it up.
Tonight I'm thinking of my friend and the fact that he might have to bury his son very soon. His young son that should not be dying. And I'm thinking about the fact that I have no words.
Quietly my friend says to me 'he's home playing video games.' When I get home and see my son playing a video game with his blonde curls spilling on his shoulder and his beautiful blue eyes looking up at me, my heart just breaks because I couldn't bear it. I could not survive my son dying.
But I'm reminded of another thing someone said to me. Her husband had died and I was newly married. I couldn't fathom losing this one I had just joined with and loved so much. She told me: 'Stop! Don't try to be in the place that I'm in, because you're not. There is a special grace for those that are going through hard things like this, and those that are outside of it just don't have that grace.'
So in other words, when the hard things come, there is provision in what you need even in the hardest things. I think I still don't get it but that's because I'm not supposed to. I'm not in a season of having a dying son. Thank the Lord. But I know one who is in that season and it breaks my heart. Instead, I choose to walk up to the altar and put them down before the One. The very One who sent his own son to die for us. That kind of father's sacrifice I cannot even begin to fathom. For my now seven-year-old has dreams of being an army guy and I can't tell you the wild terror that comes to my heart when I think of the danger he will be in. But I do know that it is not my time to go through this.
So I have no words for this friend. The only thing that comes to mind is: 'that sucks.' That is certainly not sufficient. Instead I will walk up and put him down each day before the altar. Each day I will pray. And long after. Because I know that the grief will come most strong after and in waves and will take years. I am good at the long praying. I can pray for people, for situations, for years, decades even if need be. So that is what I will do. I will pray long. That is all I will be able to do. In the end, what needs to happen, is for me to put it down before the altar of the Almighty.