*** This blog originally appeared on the Motherless Daughters Ministry website.
There are certain moments in time that change our lives forever. For me, one of those moments was when I learned my mom had passed away.
It was eight years ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. I remember waking up at 12:40 a.m. to my phone ringing and talking to one of my sisters. I listened as she told me about our mom’s final moments. I remember hanging up the phone and laying in bed for hours…going between moments of shock (did I just imagine that phone call?), moments of anger (why didn’t God allow me to be there?), and moments of feeling completely devastated.
My mom had battled breast cancer for 9 years, and while deep down I knew her time on earth was coming to an end, in that moment I learned that the thought of losing someone is very different than actually losing someone.
At the age of 26, I became a motherless daughter.
Motherless daughters share a special bond. Recently, I was reading the book, Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships, by Lisa-Jo Baker, and within the first few pages she shared that she became a motherless daughter at the age of 18.
While her book focuses on how to create and keep lasting friendships, Lisa-Jo Baker also shares how her friends supported her after her mother’s death. I saw myself in part of her story.
Lisa-Jo’s first phone call after her mom passed away was to a friend. My first phone call was also to a friend.
A few weeks before my mom passed away, one of my closest friends told me to call her whenever I got “the call.” She didn’t want me to drive myself back home alone. She said she would drive. She wanted to go with me.
My friend followed through on her offer. After I called her, she dropped everything for me. She left work, packed her bags, and before I knew it, she was at my apartment, with food in hand, and her adorable dog. We had a quick lunch, and then she drove me to my hometown, which was 4.5 hours away, so that I could be with my family.
It was the longest car ride of my life, and even though my heart was broken, I felt incredibly loved by my friend (and her adorable dog who sat on my lap the whole time).
In Never Unfriended, Lisa-Jo Baker says, “Maybe the most intimate, radical thing we can do for our friends is to show up.”
Losing my mom helped me understand the truth in this statement.
I felt loved when my friend showed up to drive me home. I felt loved when my former teaching mentor (who I hadn’t seen in years), showed up at my mom’s visitation. She drove an hour just to give me a hug. I felt loved when 7 of my friends/co-workers showed up at my mom’s funeral. Most of them had never met my mom, yet they drove 4.5 hours to comfort me.
In the midst of my grief, God revealed His love for me through my friends.
I learned that friends make sacrifices.
Friends put others’ needs in front of their own.
Friends are willing to share your grief so you don’t have to walk through the darkness alone.
The hardest phone call of my life allowed me to experience the beautiful gift of friendship.
I’m so thankful my friends showed up for me. Who will you show up for today?
About thirteen years ago, I moved to the Cincinnati area to begin my teaching career. I didn’t know a single person in Cincinnati, yet I felt called to move here….4.5 hours away from my family and friends. Pursuing your dreams sometimes will require you to do things you never expected.
For the first time, I was living on my own, in an unfamiliar place, and I didn’t know anyone. It was scary, but it was also exciting. I had a chance to make a fresh start. Being the new girl isn’t easy, though, especially when you’re an introvert like me. The more I took initiative, stepped outside my comfort zone and introduced myself to someone new, the easier it became. Before long, I quickly made many new friends.
But I soon realized that making friends is different than being a friend.
Social media wants us to believe that friendship is just a click away. With one click, we can become friends (which feels great), but just as easily, we can unfriend someone (which feels not so great).
We are led to believe that our worth is linked to the number of friends/followers/likes we have.
We have hundreds or thousands of online friends and multiple social media accounts, yet struggle with loneliness. Why is this?
In her new book, Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships, Lisa-Jo Baker reminds us,
“You are necessary. You are not invisible. You are named and seen, and please don’t erase your relevance because you think you’re not relevant to the people you pass by on a screen.” (p.32-33)
The truth is, we were created for deep relationships. Our online interactions must be balanced with real-life connections.
You might quickly make a friend, but being a friend is intentional. It takes time. And it involves risk….especially if you’ve been hurt by a friend before (In her book, Lisa-Jo Baker shares about overcoming Friendship PTSD).
Never Unfriended is a guide about how to create lasting friendships:
“So, what can you do to find safe, loving, engaged friends whom you can trust never to unfriend you? Become radically invested in the people around you. Take the initiative and become that kind of friend first.” (p.82-83)
I love this advice, and have found it to be true in my own life.
Lisa-Jo Baker shares that a lasting friend: encourages, forgives, assumes the best, celebrates, helps carry sadness, is trustworthy, and is willing to let others see his/her real self (including the messy moments). Most importantly, a lasting friend shows up….in the good times and the tough times.
She also talks about the importance of maintaining healthy boundaries and reminds us that no human will fill the craving our soul has for connection…only God can do that.
If you’re looking for practical ways to develop deeper friendships, I would encourage you to read Never Unfriended.
Friendship is a valuable gift. Be a friend to someone today.
At the beginning of 2016, I started this blog because I felt led to share more of my story with others. As an introvert, sharing personal information about myself does not come naturally to me, but God continued to prompt me to write and share. So I did.
Forty-three blogs later, I've come to the end of 2016, and I realized something pretty amazing. My hope and prayer has always been that God would use these blogs to encourage others, and while that may have happened, He has actually used these blogs to encourage me.
Re-reading my blogs has reminded me that I can trust God in the present and with my future, because He has always been faithful and loving in the past.
I have been reminded that joy and pain can co-exist and that we weren’t meant to experience either alone.
Looking back, here are my top 10 (most read) blogs of 2016. I hope they encourage you, and I look forward to writing more in 2017.
“Rejection isn’t just an emotion we feel. It’s a message that’s sent to the core of who we are, causing us to believe lies about ourselves, others, and God.”
I just finished reading Lysa’s TerKeurst’s new book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. This quote was one of many that resonated with me, especially since I recently experienced rejection.
I started blogging almost a year ago. One of my favorite online communities was accepting guest blog submissions for the next quarter. I’ve never applied to be a guest blogger before, and even though part of me thought, “You’ll never be selected,” I surprised myself and applied anyways. Then I waited….and waited…and waited.
I eventually received an e-mail thanking me for my guest blog submission. Then came the gentle let down - They received hundreds of submissions, but were only able to select 26 to publish. While my blog wasn’t selected, they thanked me for sharing my heart and encouraged me to submit another blog in the future.
Rejection is hard, even when it comes with loving and encouraging words.
I wish I could say as soon as I read that e-mail it inspired me to start working on my next guest blog submission. Instead, these were the thoughts and doubts that were running through my mind:
“Why would anyone want to read your words? No one cares what you have to say. You’ll never be good enough. You should stop writing. You’ll never be as good as (fill in the name of every writer/blogger you know).”
When we experience rejection, it can be difficult to distinguish between lies and the truth. We may start to accept the lies as truth, which often leads to feeling unworthy of love and doubting our gifts and purpose.
How do you distinguish between lies and the truth? In my life, I have found it helpful to:
God has used this recent experience with rejection to remind me of the truth:
“I started blogging because God gave me a desire to share my story. My hope and prayer is that others will feel encouraged and less alone and will also share their own story with someone. I may never know who reads my words or the impact they have on someone’s life, but I will continue to write as long as God gives me words to share.”
Rejection hurts, but it can also refine and strengthen us.
When you experience rejection, remember that you are still worthy of love. You are still valuable. You still have something to offer. God still has a purpose for your life.
I recently finished reading Jenny Simmons' latest book, Made Well: Finding Wholeness in the Everyday Sacred Moments.
Made Well is full of stories – stories that will make you laugh and stories that will probably cause you to shed a few tears. All of the stories remind me that healing is possible but often comes in unexpected ways.
What I admire most about Jenny Simmons is her willingness to be vulnerable. She shares stories from the lives of friends and family members, but also honestly shares struggles she has faced in her own life. Through those experiences, Jenny has learned:
“Healing happens all the time, even if a cure doesn’t. I am invited to be made well even when the broken things don’t get put perfectly back together. Healing happens.”
This quote resonates so much with me. The truth is, God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we would like. For 9 years, I watched my mom battle breast cancer, and I prayed that God would heal her. I wanted that healing to take place here on Earth, but instead my mom was healed when she met Jesus.
What does healing look like for those left behind after a devastating loss? God often reveals His love to us through others. Many times it’s through simple acts: someone brings us food or runs errands for us, we receive a card or text/e-mail, someone asks us to share memories of our loved one, or they are willing to simply sit with us in our pain. Being “made well” doesn’t mean our grief disappears. Instead, it’s love displayed in ordinary moments. Moments that give us hope in the midst of our grief.
One of my favorite chapters of Made Well was Chapter 6 – “Psychiatrist, Therapist, Pills – Oh My!” First of all, the title made me laugh. Then, I thought, “Is she really going to write about this?” The answer is yes! I’m especially thankful for this chapter because of the words of truth that are shared:
“Naming our broken bits is the first step to finding healing for them. Inviting someone else into your journey might be your bravest decision.”
Jenny invites us into her journey of seeking help for anxiety, OCD, and ADHD. She reminds us that God does amazing work through counselors, doctors, and sometimes He even uses medication to bring healing.
It was so refreshing to read this, as many people think it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help. I used to be one of those people. Now, I see asking for help as a sign of strength.
Like Jenny, God brought healing to my life through a Christian counselor. Sitting in her office that first session and naming my “broken bits” was scary, but it was a huge step on my healing journey.
Part of my brokenness has been the result of experiencing childhood sexual abuse. It was something that I kept a secret for most of my life. Breaking the silence allowed the healing process to begin. While I won’t be completely restored until I meet Jesus, I am currently in the process of being “made well.”
Healing has come through the love and support of family and friends, learning healthy ways to deal with my emotions (writing, exercising, music), connecting with other survivors of abuse, and reading books, articles, and blogs by people who honestly share their experiences. Realizing I'm not alone has brought comfort and hope.
Healing has come through words of truth spoken by pastors and friends at my church. While I still struggle at times with feelings of shame, guilt, and unworthiness, they have reminded me of who I am in God’s eyes.
Do you desire healing? If so, allow others to walk with you on the journey.
God still performs miracles, but many times healing happens in the small everyday moments of life. It may even happen while reading the words and stories of Made Well.
“Healing in this life is but a foretaste of what is to come.”
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.