In Others’ Words: The Better Friend

Friendship Nouwen 2016

A few weeks ago I heard that September is National Friendship month. I liked the sound of that: a whole month celebrating, among other things, friendship.

It’s also National Honey Month. And National Courtesy Month. And National Sewing Month. And National Blueberry Popsicle Month. On a more serious note, September is also National Suicide Prevention Month.

And that leads me right back to spending the month of September focusing on friends because, well, friends can make a difference when you’re hurting. When you’re convinced the pain won’t ever stop … that the ache inside your heart is unbearable. That’s when a friend can make all the difference.

A friend chooses to be someone who comes alongside you and says, “You’re not alone.” Not, “I understand” — because maybe they don’t. But that’s okay because they don’t have to understand. Being present … being available … being there is so, so much more important.

Because only when someone chooses to be with us in the midst of our mess and our tears and our questions-without-answers are we willing to trust them enough to “touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”

And yes, yes, I know that sometimes even being there for someone else doesn’t stop the worst-of-all tragedies from happening. We are left with our own questions-without-answers. People we love make choices … but we can remember that we made choices too — to show up. To share another’s pain … as much as we were able.

In Your Words: Which friend (or friends) has shown up in your life not offering advice and cures, but rather to share your pain? How do you try to show up in your friends’ lives?

[Tweet “In Others’ Words: The Better Friend #InOthersWords #quotes #NationalFriendshipMonth”] [Tweet “”When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find it is those who … have chosen rather to share our pain …” #quotes #HenriNouwen #friendship”]


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  1. September 1, 2016, 2:43 am   /  Reply

    Hands can be used as tools but only find their true calling in the grace of a handclasp; and just as you can’t hold your own hand, so too can love thrive only if it shared.

    • September 1, 2016, 9:51 am   /  Reply

      Amen and Amen, Andrew.

  2. September 1, 2016, 6:48 am   /  Reply

    I have too many friends who have shown up to encourage, to love, to just hold my hand at times to name for fear of forgetting someone. You are one of those friends, Beth.

    • September 1, 2016, 9:52 am   /  Reply

      And to think, our friendship began at that long-ago writers retreat, among other writers, amidst words, surrounded by dreams waiting to come true. <3

  3. September 1, 2016, 8:08 am   /  Reply

    Beautiful post, Beth. National Friendship Month. I like that. I have been blessed to have friends in my life who listen and love on me when I’m hurting. I try to do this for others, as well. I hope I foster an environment where people feel safe to share with me. Thanks for the reminder on how to be the best sort of friend.

    • September 1, 2016, 9:53 am   /  Reply

      I know you are the best sort of friend. I know it’s embedded in your heart. And yes, we can be thankful to know we have those kinds of friends in our lives.

  4. Anne Payne
    September 1, 2016, 9:08 am   /  Reply

    You. You are the friend who showed up the morning I was feeling so desperate and lost and alone. You reached out to me and listened and stood with me in prayer. I firmly believe the Lord brings just who we need into our lives in these critical moments, being His hands and feet. YOU are a great example of what it means to be a friend! Happy Friendship Month, from one friend to another 🙂

    • September 1, 2016, 9:54 am   /  Reply

      Well, Anne … your words were an unexpected blessing to me this morning. Thank you, too, for being my friend.

  5. September 2, 2016, 6:33 pm   /  Reply

    Beth, I love that September is National Honey Month! How cool is that? But more importantly, I’ve been thinking about your question all day. I can’t count how many times you’ve shown up at just the right moment to encourage me, keep me writing, pray for me. You are such a blessing. Your friendship is a sweet gift from God.

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