That’s What I’m Here For

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Two different friends contacted me yesterday because their mothers are dying and they wanted to connect.

I’m guessing both of them are reading this, so I’m partly writing this for them.

Because you can only say so many times, “Of course, don’t apologize, that’s what I’m here for.”

They believe you, but they still feel bad, because they’ve got this enormous grief, this massive weight of sorrow they’re carrying and it feels like a terrible, presumptuous imposition to ask someone “Hey, I’m carrying this, could you take a moment with me? I can’t really let go of it, but if you know I’m carrying it that might make it a little better (or less awful) for a moment or two.”

But it’s not an imposition. It’s not even presumptuous.

That’s what I’m here for.

I love you, Friends. It’s okay that you don’t usually check in and then have to when your mom is dying. It’s more than okay. When your mom is dying, you get to break social norms. And I will drop everything to hear you.

That’s what I’m here for.

I’m here for other things, too. The dogs and cats expect someone to feed them. Roughly 80% of the time, I’m “someone.” They appreciate it for a second or two.

Sometimes, some days, when I’m struggling and at my bitterest, I think I’m here for comic relief, the character you feel bad for laughing at but can’t help yourself. Go ahead. It’s all so preposterous.

But those are bad days, days in which I’ve lost sight of my purpose. Days in which the doubt and self-castigation have spiraled out of control and I can’t remember, or fathom, that I’ve done anyone any good. Those are the days of eating poorly and cursing like a drunk sailor doing construction work. Those days. I’m guessing you’ve had them.

Sometimes God redeems those days and I can see some good even in them. Other times, I just survive them.

They aren’t most of my days–though they feel like my entire existence at the time–and mercifully, I’ve had fewer of them recently.

But days like yesterday wake me the expletive up. In the best way.

I don’t have any advice or counsel to offer with this post. I’m simply sharing that sometimes I forget. Then I’m reminded, and not because someone stroked my ego or flattered me.

I’m reminded that I’m here for relationships. I’m here to love people as best I can–limits I’m much more aware of as I get older, wiser, and finally develop boundaries.

With God as my witness, I have the hardest time receiving grace–and forgiving myself–for relationship failures. I could list them all.

But I’ve come to believe that grace comes in having the relationships. Period. I no longer think in terms of doing this perfectly, just as I no longer think in terms of fixing people. (Others have different words for that.) God gives us grace that we, imperfectly, get to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)*

I’m not the one everyone would call. I don’t have to be.

But I am glad, in the deepest sense, that they did.

That’s why, without betraying your confidence, I’m telling you publicly. I’m not happy you had to. I am glad you knew you could.

That’s what I’m here for.

May be an illustration
From The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

*One of the two called me partly because I have such a grim sense of humor I can joke with them even in that situation and not think less of them for needing to.

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