I cannot believe it has been 7 and a half years since Kara passed and 7 years since the book we wrote together about friendship during suffering released.
Before writing Just Show Up together, I had no idea how to be there for a friend. I was the kind of person who would impatiently wait to impose my opinion on someone. I wanted to rescue everyone. I didn’t know how to be quietly supportive. (And I still make plenty of mistakes!)
I learned so many lessons while writing Just Show Up and during my friendship with Kara, and here are the ones that have been cemented for me in the seven years since the book released.
1. Someone’s battle with suffering or cancer or grief or whatever is going on in their life isn’t our battle.
Our job is to stand behind them and hold them up and support them and pray for them and let them make their own choices. But ultimately, it’s not our battle. We are the support team. We’re sitting the bench, and we had better be cheering on the main player.
2. Don’t ask what you can do. Figure out what you can do and then offer to do it.
Let me know if I can help and what can I do? are two things that likely will not receive answers when someone is suffering—not because the person doesn’t have needs, but more because they don’t have the time or energy to think of the answer to these.
If what we offer isn’t accepted, that’s okay. But at least we have offered what we felt led to do. We’re using our brains to figure out what we hope or believe would be helpful versus forcing that effort on the person who is sick or suffering.
3. The best way to engage in friendships when you’re lonely is to go love someone else.
So often during the book and previous to it when Kara was blogging, people would ask: How do I find friendships like this? They were lonely, and they wanted community. At the time, I did not know the answer to this question. But over the years, I have developed my own answer. I’m not saying I’m right. This is just what I’ve observed and the answer I’ve come to. The best way to engage in friendships when you’re lonely is to go out and love someone else.
When Kara was sick, she was still a good friend. She checked on us and our children. She did not just take. She gave. She was aware of what was happening around her and that is part of what made her such a uniquely special friend. Reach out to the people around you and love on them. Don’t expect anything in return. Just love them and see what God does in your own life.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of the little things.
A text or card or email or a little gift is just as important as the big thing that someone else can do. Maybe someone else can give a vacation but you can give a meal. Don’t let the size or impact of what you can offer stop you from offering. Send the text. Mail them something. Set a timer to pray for someone. Little things matter.
5. God is STILL with us.
Kara often said that suffering is not the absence of God’s goodness and love, and over the years, I have seen example after example of this. He loves us, He hears us, He’s with us in our suffering. That doesn’t for one second make it easy. As I said in the book and will continue to say probably for the rest of my life: I believe, help my unbelief.
6. Keep praying for miracles.
Sometimes it feels like we didn’t receive the answers to prayer that we asked for with Kara because we didn’t receive the big miracle of her being healed while on this earth. But when I reflect back on that time, I can clearly see the many, many small miracles that God gave us. I have continued to pray for miracles in the years since Kara passed and I have continued to see answers. I am so thankful for those gifts. Kara was exceptional at recognizing the small miracles.
7. There really was something special about Kara.
I wish I could put a finger on exactly what made Kara so unique. She was this beautiful mix of Jesus follower and irreverent. Of obedience and grace. She was oh-so-funny and believed Jesus wholeheartedly. She was one of a kind. Why God takes the good ones early, I’ll never know. That is one thing that I have not come to understand in the last seven years. That is one thing I don’t expect to understand until heaven.
Thanks for the love over the years regarding Kara and Just Show Up. So many of you have reached out, and I appreciate every note. I often think about those who’ve messaged me and what they were going through. I hope that God has brought healing over time. And if he hasn’t yet, I hope he does in the near future.
Thank you to you all, because this book wouldn’t exist without you guys.
That’s the eighth thing that I’ve realized since Just Show Up released: It was with you that this was written. You all taught me just as much as Kara. So, thank you for that. ❤️
Do you have a favorite way that you show up for others? I’d love to hear your comments below. Thank you for continuing to care for one another.
On a side note, I’m celebrating Choosing His Family winning a Carol Award by giving away 3 copies. Pop over to my news page to enter.