Love well, listen well…

May 2019: The last few weeks have been difficult to endure. I planned to post about my health a week ago, but as I attempted to type a few words, throbbing pain radiated throughout the arm. I began to cry as I realized I wouldn’t be able to manage the pain much longer.

When I told my sister that I would return to Children’s for a consult concerning my arm, I said, “I think my former doctors are throwing me a surprise party.” She snickered and said, “Oh! You should probably let mom fix your hair then.”

When I went to my “surprise party” consult the other day, I expected to walk out with an easy plan to fix my arm. Instead, I walked out with discouraging news on my mind and ultrasound goo hardening in my hair. I was overwhelmingly frustrated and furious until I spotted the sign that says, “Event in progress.” The doctors weren’t actually throwing me a surprise party to celebrate my return to Children’s. Nevertheless, as I serendipitously stumbled upon that sign, I just had to ask my mom, “Do you think we’re too late to walk into my party?” As we giggled, I remembered that gladness and grief can beautifully coexist.

People tend to remind me to be joyful in the midst of suffering. I often receive text messages with encouraging quotes and Bible verses. I truly appreciate the sentiment, but perhaps these messages have helped me the most in this season of life:

1. I wish I knew what to say.
2. I’m so sorry.

I’m grateful for these messages because they have given me the room to grieve discouraging news. The friends who sent those messages are often sources of encouragement in my life, but they knew I didn’t need encouragement. I needed people who were simply willing to listen.

If my lifelong battle with discouraging health complications has taught me anything, it’s this: sometimes your suffering friend just needs you to sit quietly and listen well.

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