The Gift

hospitalA friend of mine is in the psychiatric wing of a hospital. She’s been there for a long time now and we don’t know when she’ll come out.

I call her. She’s tired – I can hear it in her voice – and the drugs she’s taking are making her very sick. She can’t leave her room, let alone the building. ‘It’s sunny’ I say. She replies with the ghost of a laugh: ‘Is it? That’s nice’.

We talk.  About the past: when we went to the beach and cackled over old photos. Chatting into the wee hours as she sang quietly to her guitar.  She’s soft and gentle and lovely: inside and out. I wish you could know her too.

Some things, we don’t talk about – but they’re there.   The years that feel lost.  The fear that comes, late in the night. The despair, the sadness, the confusion, the doubt.

‘Emma’ she says, ‘Sometimes I find it hard to pray. Do you feel like that too?’

I close my eyes. ‘Yes. Yes’.

I ask if I can pray for her.  And I do, down the phone – I wrap her with the words I wish my arms could echo.

But then, she prays for me.

From the bedroom in the hospital where she can’t get out.  From a body weakened by sickness and sadness. From a place of fear and doubt and brokenness. Her words are faltering and they crack and stumble. But they are beautiful. And so is she.

Last night I got an email.  From a friend who has been in the very depths of despair; and is/has been close to giving up. Every day is a struggle and has been, for many months.  She can’t see or feel a way forward.  But she wrote to encourage me.  And in her words were life and hope and strengthening and blessing. I read them and they picked me up and brought me to my knees – for her and for me, and for others like us.

I thank God for these friends. The ‘broken’.  The ‘crushed’.  The ‘weak’. They might think they’re weighing us down – but they’re carrying us instead.

There’s power in their words and in their weakness; and there’s beauty there too. It’s not the beauty of the world that’s bright and tough and strong – but it’s the beauty of the cross. It’s blinding. And there’s more courage and grace in their lives, than a million easy answers.

6 thoughts on “The Gift

  1. Too many easy answers. Too little compassion and understanding. Thank God for Jesus and the power of prayer.

  2. Thank you for this. You made me cry, but also I really needed to hear this. My boyfriend always tell me how I am also a blessing for him and others, but all I could see was me as a burden.

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