In 2012, when my 2-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia, all our plans for the future were put on the back burner. That baby we were trying to conceive would just have to wait. That house we wanted to build would remain a figment of our imagination.
For nine months, my son’s cancer treatment raged on. It was exhausting and terrifying. Finally the treatment slowed down and it was time to get back to “normal” life.
But I was tender, oh so very tender.
The floor had dropped out of my world when my son was diagnosed, and so I walked slowly back into the “real” world, cautiously testing the ground in front of me with each tentative step.
One day, I called an old friend whom I’d lost touch with in the chaos of cancer. She invited me to her new house and gave me directions the old-fashioned way – “turn left at the gas station” – because their development was so new that GPS didn’t recognize it yet.
When I pulled up in front of her home, my mind went back to the time before my son was diagnosed. I remembered how this friend and I had sat around the table talking about house designs. We had laughed as we realized how similar our ideas were.
Now here I was, pulling up to that dream house that had become a reality for them. My friend greeted me with a smile and welcomed me into her new home.
After giving me the grand tour, we settled down to talk in her new kitchen, with its gorgeous countertops and view of the whole house. Our conversation drifted from topic to topic like smoke trying to find an open window. My friend told me about her new job and how perfect the hours were. I smiled politely and congratulated her on how lucky she was. But as we talked, I felt distracted.
Sitting there in her new house, I felt like I was sitting in a symbol of what our life would have been like without cancer – new and shiny and perfect – and my emotions were swirling.
I was happy for my friend, but I couldn’t help but wish it were me standing in my beautiful kitchen talking about my perfect new job. Instead, I sat on her barstool and answered questions about my son’s diagnosis and those first few months afterward.
I confided in her how hard that time was for me. I admitted how much I struggled to get through some of those days. As I let her see the hurt and fear of the past several months, it felt like my vulnerability was shouting in the chair next to me, dancing on my head, and waving its arms obnoxiously.
I felt so broken, tender, and alone in my pain.
And she could have let me stay there – alone and broken.
She could have allowed me to believe her new house and new job were all parts of the perfect life she was living, and I would have driven away that day feeling alone in my pain.
But she didn’t let me stay there alone. Instead, she took the white sheet off of the hurt and vulnerability she had been hiding.
She confided in me that things were hard in her family. She told me about the deep hurt and pain that was too personal to share with the rest of the world. And as she shared her secret pain with me, it was as if she was saying, “Me too. I’m right there with you, sister.”
Suddenly, neither of us felt so alone. Somehow sharing our hurts and vulnerability – and not just our house plans – had strengthened our friendship.
When it was time for me to go, I walked back through that beautiful entryway, grateful for my friend who was brave enough to say, “Me too.” Grateful for a friendship that had been renewed by truth and vulnerability.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15, NIVLeave a Comment