Handling Hard in Friendship: Just Show Up

(Last Updated On: September 29, 2017)

It starts with a phone call, a knock on the door, a doctor’s test result and out of nowhere, hard just showed up.

Suddenly, life becomes divided into before/after.

This week again has been a series of hard emails and phone calls. Serious, deep needs have surrounded me. And I’ve been reminded that I can just show up even if that is silent prayers and text messages.

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What do you do when the news isn’t yours? How do you just show up when a friend goes through HARD?

Saturday, I started reading Just Show Up; The Dance of Walking Through Suffering Together by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn. Within three sentences, I was devouring the pages.

Warm words and gentleness invite us to know the authors and the excruciating, miraculous ways God built this community of friends and taught them how to deal with Kara’s hard and strengthen their relationships.

God put this book in my path because I’ve always known how to care for others in my heart, sometimes too much, but I haven’t always known how to just show up and love people when hurt feelings or insecurities or intensely hard circumstances just show up on our doorsteps.

When life is busy, friendships that balance grace and kindness challenge most of us, but these women dance through this long goodbye with a beauty that only God could have created out of gut-wrenching painful circumstances.

How do you handle HARD when it lands on your friend's doorstep? Just Show UP. Click To Tweet

I found tremendous beauty in the way each friend’s gifting served a purpose for Kara and their group. God knit together these friends. This book is such an encouragement to women striving to be better friends in hard situations: cancer, death, miscarriage, divorce.

Kara and Jill both write with eloquence and gentleness. I was living this story with them. Maybe this story was gripping for me because I’ve had some similar hard in my life and close friends that I’ve asked to mother my children if something ever happened to me, but some is just the authors’ writing ability and openness.

Jill and Kara take turns writing in each chapter, but they both write stunningly, like water gliding softly over river stones. I caught myself feeling the weight of their emotions so dramatically I couldn’t catch my breath.

Jill discusses the delicate origami art of folding their feelings in and out of the circle of pain to support Kara and her family, caring for each other’s friendships with Kara as she struggled to be herself. How do you do friendship in the hard places of life and make every moment count? Just show up, an incredible story of faith and friendship and grace. You won't put it down.

They used their gifts and grace to show up for Kara and each other.

They showed up intentionally for Kara and each other through casseroles and funeral plans. Or ordered pizzas for us non-cooking introverts who are not spiritually gifted in the meal providing. Thank heavens for Little Caesars.

One page, I would be almost physically ill hurting and crying with them and the next my heart would soar with how God worked through that moment.

Each chapter ends with asking just two questions to help us be better friends and better receivers if we’re the friend on the hard side of things.

Bible verses and Godly perspectives pepper this book with more than just how to help a friend deal with a terminal illness, but also practical ways to be a help when sometimes we don’t know what to do or say.

Just Show Up reminds us that platitudes can be worse than silence and hugs are currency for hard.

Any friendship could benefit from learning how to be honest, gracefully forgive weaknesses, and find ways to bless each other through the tough parts of life, even when that doesn’t mean cancer.

I want to buy this book for every woman I know. Offering grace to our friends and to ourselves doesn’t always come naturally, and is needed tremendously by all.

This book shows how faith and belief, even when tested to the core, can bring us to the door with banana pudding and open arms when we say yes and just show up. Even if we can only show up via text message or phone calls and prayer.

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32 Replies to “Handling Hard in Friendship: Just Show Up”

  1. I really want to read this book, but my Amazon wish list is ridiculously long right now – not to mention the pile of unread books waiting for me on my bedside locker (and there might even be a few waiting on my kindle app too)!

  2. You’re right – offering grace to friends doesn’t come naturally! I’ve been wanting to write a post on this subject for a while, but just haven’t had the words or peace about it yet. You stated everything so beautifully! i love this post!

  3. I followed Kara’s blog, Mundane Faithfulness and loved everything she wrote about her experience leading up to her death. I’m sure I would love this book too!

  4. This is going on my list of books to read and I’m glad I clicked on over to check your blog out.

    I have a before and after moment that changed my life after my hubby had three brain aneurysms, one of which hemmoraghed. I’d like to be able to minister to others who are going through difficult times as well.

    1. I can’t imagine how that kind of injury looks when it happens to your spouse. The fear and worry for his life and then trying to still do laundry and clean house and be at the hospital. I hope you had some support. I hope this book is wonderful for you and reaching into the hard for your friends too

  5. Wow. I was crying just reading through your post. I know I’m going to be a mess of tears when I get to her book! Suffering is one of the ways God challenges and changes us. And, although it can be difficult to know how to handle someone else’s hard, it’s a beautifully necessary aspect of our walk with Christ and each other. A few tips to know how to handle hard with grace would be very welcome. I can’t wait to read this!

  6. Sounds like a wonderful book – it is so important to know that we are each called to serve each other in different ways, and that our friends need our own special “brand” of care during hard times. And often the smallest things have the largest impact.

    1. My friend’s son had cancer while she lived hours and hours away. Any chance I had to go visit I was sick with a cold, which meant I had to love her from afar. I learned a lot about how to show up for her by running her website and using her voice when posting updates, supervising a Gofundme for her family, and being the person she could call at ridiculous hours to vent when she spent months in a hospital with a 2 yo with Down’s and Leukemia. It was so hard to watch, but God helped me show up for her in the ways that were my strength and ability and really mattered to her.

    1. I know the storms are no fun, but our marriage has grown more during the storms because we had to learn how to dance in the rain or just be miserable and wet, so to speak.

  7. Such great advice. Too often we get uncomfortable with hard when it comes to our friends. We forget what to do. how to love…when really it is just about BEING available. 🙂

  8. This sounds SO good! I am grateful for the friends who have shown up in my hard. Thanks for sharing about this. I think I’ll have to add it to my list of books for the year. 🙂

  9. This sounds heart wrenching, but very inspirational. We often don’t know how to help. We also don’t know how to receive help. We say “no thanks” when people offer to help, way too often. Then we wish we had taken them up on it. We also offer to help others, but aren’t specific enough, so we leave them wondering if we are really going to do what we said, or when we are going to do it.

  10. It can be so hard to get past the initial shock of someone’s discomfort– their news, their crying, the messiness of grief. But taking the time to “just be there” means so much more than having the “magic words” or the “fix” for a situation. I love this post and will be on the lookout for the book!

  11. Jennifer, this book was so amazing and important. You’re right about the division into before and after. When each of my parents died, I said that: it’s like a curtain dropped between two lives “before and after.” You did a lovely job portraying this book. It’s something that needs to be shared so we all show up when we need to.

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