When the Past Makes Me Cry


For me, life has often been an emotional tug-of-war. So many memories, experiences, encounters and conversations have broken my heart. I have felt deep in my spirit the cries of the hurting ones around me. I have hurt others, and I myself have been hurt. Knowing about this suffering has only served to reinforce my longings to fix the pain of the world — and yet I realize I cannot always be that person.

There is Someone who is much better at it than I am...

I don’t quite know whether I am the kind of person who lives primarily out of emotion, or out of analysis and reason. But I do know that every time I have acted out of emotion, a big part of me jerks myself back and rehashes those steps and analyzes them in effort to prevent them from happening again. Sometimes I even over-think things, to the point of inaction, or fear.

I want to be different — but then moments such as one from yesterday happen and I come back to a realization of my own weakness and my need for Someone stronger.

One of my roommates and I took a road trip yesterday and, on the way home, something she asked me directed my thoughts back into the past, to a memory that recurs every now and then — the memory of a dear friendship that died slowly.

Bear with me ... there is a point to this story.

My best friend and I were inseparable growing up. But as it often happens, as two people mature and life happens around them, we drifted. Church splits, words spoken, families heading in different directions, dating, marriage and college were all events, which, apparently, our friendship was not strong enough to withstand. And so we drifted. There was never a dramatic parting of ways — just a long and gradual separation of tastes, thoughts, ambitions and dreams, and by the time I knew it, there was a gulf so wide between us that only a long bridge-building project could have spanned it. And, by that time, neither one of us seemed to want to close the gap.

But hers is a friendship I have always missed. I have looked for it in so many other people, but never found anything quite like the familiarity of a shared childhood to make it possible.

Last night, though, in the midst of my roommate’s questions, part of the sometimes fuzzy mystery of that friendship’s dissolution became a little clearer.

My friend and I, as I’ve alluded to, told each other everything. Family stories, secret crushes, hopes and fears — it was all out there for the other person to see. That is why I was so mystified when things began to change for us.

After an illness which almost took her from us, she was different. One of the guys we grew up with had been interested in her for awhile, and after her recovery, they started seeing each other. Within a few years they were engaged, then married.

She did ask me to be in the wedding, but at that point I already was feeling the gap widening.

She was married on a hot day in July. Her first trip away from her husband after the wedding was when we went to visit a friend who lived out of state the following November.

We had a really good time that weekend. But one night we got into one of those late-night conversations girl friends are famous for ... and I found out that her illness, by that time years in the past, had been followed by a years-long struggle with bulimia ... and she hadn’t told me.

I was so hurt, and confused about why, after a lifelong friendship, she wouldn’t feel safe telling me — her best friend — about something I could have prayed with her and cried with her through. I wouldn’t have judged. I wouldn’t have scorned.

Years have gone by, and she and I have come to somewhat of a center in our lives. We can see each other at gatherings back home and still pick up where we left off last time. We definitely won’t ever be the same friends we were at 12, but there is a rich history there, and I think both of us will treasure it.

Maybe I will never know why she didn’t tell me about her battle with bulimia. But I am thankful for remembering that conversation last night. I think what God was trying to say is that, much as I want to, I don’t have to be the person everyone runs to for comfort and healing. Even though I am willing to listen and feel others’ pain, there is Someone who is much better equipped to take those struggles and work through them and free my friends from their burdens.

I want to be there for you, and when you come to me, I will listen with arms ready to soothe you. But please, don’t let me get in the way of your Savior.

Run to Him.

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1 comment:

Pam Elmore said...

This is such a good reminder of what our true role as friends (and counselors!) in each other's lives is as believers.