It was a beautiful October morning back in 2012 when I stood in my bathroom and found out that the deepest longest of my heart for the past 5 years was going to come true. I stared at that little stick in amazement. Our five and a half year struggle with infertility was eliminated with one extra blue line.
Everything, the whole world, was suddenly glorious. The sun shined brighter. Birds landed on my window sill. I was confident that at any moment people in color-coordinate clothing would jump out from behind bushes to do a choreographed dance and sing a Broadway number in my honor. God had heard the cries of my heart, and He had finally blessed us with a child.
All of my bliss and happiness came to a screeching halt not many weeks later watching a monitor as my baby’s heartbeat struggled at much too slow of a pace. Within a week, the heartbeat was gone. Even now, typing that five years later, my eyes are flooded with tears and a deep soul pain takes me back to that moment.
I had never known pain like that.
I was hurt, disillusioned, confused, and sad to the point that I was almost non-functioning. The pain wrapped me up like a suffocating, wet blanket and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to throw it off.
But, my friends…
My friends stepped in and loved me with a love that wouldn’t let go. They bought me groceries and brought meals and took care of my boys. The cried with me, texted me encouragement, reminded me of God’s Word that is true regardless of how I feel. And they prayed.
I was experiencing a crisis where I couldn’t feel God’s love in my circumstances, but He allowed me to feel His love through His people. They stepped in and loved me back to life.
As Andy was preaching this past weekend about relationships, I was reminded of this season of my life and was surprised by the sudden tears springing to my eyes. Andy taught about how God designed us to need one another and how relationships require sacrifice. He told us that we can only be loved to the extent we are known, and that in order to experience that type of support through a crisis, the investment in relationships needs to have already been in place. If you missed the message, you should totally check it out here.
One key lesson I learned during that dark season was to “reach out and reach back”.
I had to reach out to let people close to me know that I was not okay. I needed to be honest with them when they asked how I was doing. They couldn’t love me well if they didn’t know the truth.
And also, I had to reach back. When people sent me a text of encouragement, I made it a point to reply…even if just with a sincere thank you. It’s exceedingly difficult for people to love you if you don’t reach back whenever they try to reach out. It feels like playing tennis with no one on the other side of the net…they just keep serving balls but none of them get returned. Eventually, they’ll go find a new tennis partner.
Mama always said, “To have a friend, you’ve gotta be a friend.” So today, I wonder who you could reach out to. Who needs to hear that you are thinking of them? Who do you need to let know how you are really doing? And I wonder if there is anyone that you need to reach back to. Has there been a friend who has tried to reach out to you that you should do a better job reciprocating with?
Like Andy said, God made us to need one another. It’s the brutal and beautiful truth of our design.