I am a member of a “life community.” They are the avenue at my “big” church to make church “small” and personal. The group I am part has become an important part of my life and I am thankful for the care they have given me, especially in the past 6 months. I have experienced a job change and the aging and passing of dear friend in addition to all the normal rhythms of life. They have asked good questions and lifted me up in prayer. In addition to my “life community” other friends have followed up with me on how the job change has been going, not a week or two into it, rather months in. Another friend continued to ask me how I was preparing for the loss of my dear friend. There have been friends, co-workers and acquaintances who have lent listening ears and words of encouragement. I should note here I haven’t been in a funk or depression however this season in my life has been full. It has been full to the extent though no one could take my place, nor would I have wanted them to, I have desperately needed the support they have given me. So I share what has been helpful in no particular order and some examples of how they manifested themselves.
- Spoken words of encouragement, congratulations, condolences, understanding, and comfort.
- Written words of congratulations and encouragement. A team member of my softball team sent me a card of congrats for my new job but also a follow up card about 2 months into it. She remembered how hard a job change can be, even when it’s a good change. A friend also shared a short story her daughter wrote about dying which helped my grief process and allowed tears to flow freely.
- Direct questions. In my case my friend asked me what I was doing to prepare and asked me specifically if I had written the letter I had planned to write to my dying friend. She kept me accountable
- Sharing personal stories. I heard stories of how long it took to adjust to a new job, how tired they were, and how the last days and weeks were for loved ones who passed away.
- Prayer – I have been lifted up and remembered in prayer. Many of those that have prayed and have shared this with me and I have been humbled to be remembered, thankful, and reminded how much I have needed their prayers.
- Understanding – I was asked to spend some time with a group of young women I have known for 6 years now. They understood when I said no and gave understanding and no guilt.
- Humor – I have been laughed at¸ I have laughed with, and I have laughed at a variety of situations and people even moments when life and death in this world were precarious.
- Food – Many people have fed me and we have shared good conversation over meals, snacks, tea, coffee, and raclette.
- Physical Touch – I have received goodbye hugs, welcome handshakes, high fives, kisses of friendship, hands held in prayer and given in the gift of presence, embraces of comfort and fist bumps from students and children’s friends. All convey a message somehow that I’m OK
- New Friendships – Through these months I have begun new friendships based on my new position, mutual friends and experiences
- Invitations – Invitations to events, homes, and outings far and wide. The invitations to travel and visit are particularly meaningful. Opening up one’s home is always meaningful as I love sharing life. I also love when invitation to my home are accepted.
- Time – All really do come down to this in some way. I am thankful that individuals have shared their time with me during this season in such a beautiful tapestry of ways.