Life is complicated. People are complicated.
Most times I don’t have an easy answer to the problems that people I care about face. I don’t know what to say, what to pray. I know what I want, but it’s never that simple.
If you have cancer, I want you to be healed.
If you are sad, I want you to be happy.
If you are anxious, I want you to find inner peace.
If you are in love, I want it to last forever.
If you have been hurt, I want you to recover.
If you are a refugee, I want you to find a home.
But it’s complicated. Some things never heal. Deep seated anxieties don’t respond to quick fixes. Sometimes there is no cure. Where does one begin? Because it’s complicated. It’s complicated medically. It’s complicated psychologically. It’s complicated politically. It’s complicated practically.
It’s so complicated and I’m so inadequate that it makes me feel powerless and stupid. I don’t know what to say or pray. Where to start? Where to end? What to do?
Sometimes the bravest
and most important thing
you can do
is just show up
But I am a compassionate person so I just turn up. What I have learnt over the years is this. When I don’t know what to say or do, I just turn up. Be there. Feel powerless. Feel stupid. But be there. Be with people in their pain, fear, grief and confusion.
Listen to the story. Hear their pain. The ill-treatment. The betrayal. The hope. The fear. Cry. Groan. It’s complicated so just turn up. Bring a plate of comfort food. Bring flowers. Say inadequate things. But turn up.
Because when it’s over people won’t remember what you said. They won’t remember what you did. They don’t really expect you to solve anything. But they will remember that you came. You turned up. You cared. They will remember how you made them feel. Made them feel loved and not alone.
So show up. Be there.
Yes, there may be things you can do. Make that phone call. Work for better health care to be available locally. Look after the kids. Cook meals. Organise home support from Council. Help with accommodation. Lobby for change. Work for justice. But in the meantime just showing up is its own kind of gospel.
When it comes to seemingly impossible things our biggest obstacle is usually our own expectations. We’ve come to expect that someone gives us an action plan, a timeline, a viable set of directions. But really, it’s not that easy.
Or maybe it’s not that hard. Show up. Just show up. It’s all we know how to do sometimes. And maybe it’s all we need to do anyway.
And if it’s you that’s suffering, in pain, anxious, grieving and struggling to find meaning in life, try to put yourself into places and positions where you can find healing, comfort and renewal. Seeing a Doctor, a Psychologist, going to church or re-joining that social group once is never going to change much. But if you keep showing up …
You may just hear some good news.
Brian Spencer, Minister