By: Angela Edmonds
Being a good friend is important to me. I try to love people by listening and laughing and giving advice. I want to encourage my friends in their passions and dreams. I want to celebrate with them. And I want to walk with them through disappointment and confusion and gut-wrenching heartbreak. But sometimes being a good friend means entering into conversations and situations that are really difficult and messy and uncomfortable. In these moments we learn what selflessness can look like as we stand beside the people we love.
Within the past few months, I have often found myself at a loss for words as my friends experience the pains that life sometimes brings. There was no hopeful advice that seemed appropriate when my friend lost a member of her family. Something like “I know how you feel” wasn’t good enough when someone else was dealing with the aftermath of a drug overdose. Anxiety and uncertainty about the future can not always be remedied with “Everything is going to be okay.” Because sometimes it’s not okay. Sometimes pain lasts for longer than we thought it would.
Lately I’ve found myself spending much less time searching for the right words to say. Instead I will sit in silence and hold their hand while they cry. Sometimes all we can do is be there. Sometimes all I can say is, “This sucks.” People don’t need a solution to their problems as much as they need someone who is willing to crawl through the trenches with them.
I have hung up the pride that came with always knowing the right thing to say. When I listen to someone, I am not thinking of what I’m going to say next, I just listen. I am learning what empathy can really look like, and through that I am learning new ways of love.
To quote one of my favorite artists (Sleeping At Last), “Darkness exists to make light truly count.” When we are willing to walk with people through the really tough stuff, the celebrations and moments of joy seem to shine even brighter than before.
Be a friend who is willing to sit in silence with the ones you love. Love and support do not always require words.