I cannot believe it has been 7 and a half years since Kara passed and 7 years since the book we wrote together about friendship during suffering released.
Before writing Just Show Up together, I had no idea how to be there for a friend. I was the kind of person who would impatiently wait to impose my opinion on someone. I wanted to rescue everyone. I didn’t know how to be quietly supportive. (And I still make plenty of mistakes!)
I learned so many lessons while writing Just Show Up and during my friendship with Kara, and here are the ones that have been cemented for me in the seven years since the book released.
1. Someone’s battle with suffering or cancer or grief or whatever is going on in their life isn’t our battle.
Our job is to stand behind them and hold them up and support them and pray for them and let them make their own choices. But ultimately, it’s not our battle. We are the support team. We’re sitting the bench, and we had better be cheering on the main player.
2. Don’t ask what you can do. Figure out what you can do and then offer to do it.
Let me know if I can help and what can I do? are two things that likely will not receive answers when someone is suffering—not because the person doesn’t have needs, but more because they don’t have the time or energy to think of the answer to these.
If what we offer isn’t accepted, that’s okay. But at least we have offered what we felt led to do. We’re using our brains to figure out what we hope or believe would be helpful versus forcing that effort on the person who is sick or suffering.
3. The best way to engage in friendships when you’re lonely is to go love someone else.
So often during the book and previous to it when Kara was blogging, people would ask: How do I find friendships like this? They were lonely, and they wanted community. At the time, I did not know the answer to this question. But over the years, I have developed my own answer. I’m not saying I’m right. This is just what I’ve observed and the answer I’ve come to. The best way to engage in friendships when you’re lonely is to go out and love someone else.
When Kara was sick, she was still a good friend. She checked on us and our children. She did not just take. She gave. She was aware of what was happening around her and that is part of what made her such a uniquely special friend. Reach out to the people around you and love on them. Don’t expect anything in return. Just love them and see what God does in your own life.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of the little things.
A text or card or email or a little gift is just as important as the big thing that someone else can do. Maybe someone else can give a vacation but you can give a meal. Don’t let the size or impact of what you can offer stop you from offering. Send the text. Mail them something. Set a timer to pray for someone. Little things matter.
5. God is STILL with us.
Kara often said that suffering is not the absence of God’s goodness and love, and over the years, I have seen example after example of this. He loves us, He hears us, He’s with us in our suffering. That doesn’t for one second make it easy. As I said in the book and will continue to say probably for the rest of my life: I believe, help my unbelief.
6. Keep praying for miracles.
Sometimes it feels like we didn’t receive the answers to prayer that we asked for with Kara because we didn’t receive the big miracle of her being healed while on this earth. But when I reflect back on that time, I can clearly see the many, many small miracles that God gave us. I have continued to pray for miracles in the years since Kara passed and I have continued to see answers. I am so thankful for those gifts. Kara was exceptional at recognizing the small miracles.
7. There really was something special about Kara.
I wish I could put a finger on exactly what made Kara so unique. She was this beautiful mix of Jesus follower and irreverent. Of obedience and grace. She was oh-so-funny and believed Jesus wholeheartedly. She was one of a kind. Why God takes the good ones early, I’ll never know. That is one thing that I have not come to understand in the last seven years. That is one thing I don’t expect to understand until heaven.
Thanks for the love over the years regarding Kara and Just Show Up. So many of you have reached out, and I appreciate every note. I often think about those who’ve messaged me and what they were going through. I hope that God has brought healing over time. And if he hasn’t yet, I hope he does in the near future.
Thank you to you all, because this book wouldn’t exist without you guys.
That’s the eighth thing that I’ve realized since Just Show Up released: It was with you that this was written. You all taught me just as much as Kara. So, thank you for that. ❤️
Do you have a favorite way that you show up for others? I’d love to hear your comments below. Thank you for continuing to care for one another.
On a side note, I’m celebrating Choosing His Family winning a Carol Award by giving away 3 copies. Pop over to my news page to enter.
Thank you for this post again. I needed to be reminded, as a very good friend of mine is suffering from bone cancer.
That sounds painfully awful and I’m so very sorry. Love to you and your friend! Stopping to pray for you both now.
I love this post and the book Just Show Up! So impactful. Thank you, Jill. 🙂 Jonathan loved it too.
Hi sweet Becky, thank you for always being such an encouragement. And Jonathan too! You both are huge inspirations to me. <3
My 16 y/o grandson died 4 yrs ago. I am still grieving, our church has a program called Griefshare and I did it twice. It did help and I decided to volunteer with the program and perhaps help someone else in that situation. This last week the session was on “why”. Some of what you wrote resonated with me and am anxious to share with a few people in the group. Next thing is to get your book!! We share the Buteyn name, so you must be awesome! 😂😂😂
How amazing we share the same unusual last name! My heart just dropped hearing about your grandson. I’m so very sorry. Just absolutely heartbreaking. Sending you and your family prayers from Colorado. <3
How does one “just show up” when the one you want to show up for (an addicted to alcohol family member) is bitter, unable or unwilling to help himself, sinks deeper and deeper into despair and loss and bitterness and rage and continues to blame everything and everyone else for his problems? I love my brother. In fact, when he was 8 he asked one night when I got back from church “why do you go to that place?” I told him I go to worship God and thank Him for sending His Son Jesus to help us. I told Him I had asked Jesus into my heart a while ago so that when I got old and died, I’d know I was going to Heaven. He said “Lori, I want to do that too!” I clarified “You mean you want to ask Jesus into YOUR heart so you can go to Heaven when you grow very old?” “Yes” he said. I led him in prayer right then and there. But today? I don’t see Jesus when I look at him or his life. He can switch from telling me he will “ALWAYS believe in God and Jesus and have faith” to cussing our elderly mom out over the phone for no discernible reason since she’s always been so good to us! My brother over the past 5 yrs has deteriorated from very responsible, working full time, extremely talented musician, had his electrician’s apprentice license at 15, talented artist, worked in the concrete and construction fields, inventor, dad to his beloved first child, his mini me, sensitive, kind, great sense of humor, modest savings but proud of being able to give nice gifts to those he loved, helped others etc. Now? He lives in a house being foreclosed on since his abusive father that lived with him passed in Jan 2018. He got his first DUI a few years ago so no longer has a license or car. He got fired from his job (too many absences and goofing off around caustic chemicals and heavy equipment which was unheard of before. Bills haven’t been paid, electric has been turned off multiple times. He lies and manipulates to get our mom to drive 90 min. each way to bring him food. His water supply is gone because either something in the well is broken or piping or both. That means he hasn’t showered in over a year, doesn’t brush his teeth or wash his clothes. He smells. Again, unheard of before. He has no plumbing so is now going to the restroom in a trash bag and has been for a year now. House is in foreclosure so his town won’t help him pay on his thousands of dollars electric bill. His cell phone (non contract) is out of minutes so now he can’t call anyone. He needs water, food etc. His entire life is a mess, he self injures, is majorly depressed. How do I “just show up”? I don’t drive and I don’t have thousands of dollars to restore his mortgage, pay his electric etc. When we call to have him evaluated at the hospital they send him home after he tells them “my family are worriers… I am not going to kill myself” (Yet he threatens it often.)
Hi Lori, this is a lot to handle…I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Stopping to pray for you now. <3
Thank you Jill. Sorry to just be seeing your reply now… Hope you have a great weekend!