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.