I haven’t lived very long. And yet, there’s something I regret deeply. It’s not some thrilling opportunity that I passed up, or something I did, and it’s not anything scandalous. It’s something simple, something that means a lot. Something that is a part of living for Christ and serving others.
You want to know what it is?
I regret not being there.
I wasn’t there when my friend’s mom almost died, when she had to act as the mom for her family because hers was so ill. I wasn’t there when my other friend was hurting and down and avoiding people. I forgot to keep up with another friend and ended up hearing what she was struggling with from my mom.
Each of these times, I was able to jump in and be there after the fact, but each time I so deeply regretted not being there when they needed me. I got so caught up in my own life that I forgot to check in with them, to ask simple questions and ask for real answers.
I was satisfied with “Fine”. I overlooked the plastered smiles. Told myself they were busy. My own problems eclipsed the problems of my friends. I was neglecting my job, as a friend, in a position that God placed me in, to be there for them.
Because God has placed me in the life of each and every one of my friends. Some of them are closer. Some of them are just casual acquaintances. Some of them don’t need me as much. But some of them do. And when they need me, I need to be there for them.
My friend Amie wrote an excellent post on how to help your depressed or grieving friend. But my problem was not even knowing that they needed help. And when I did learn, I had deep remorse. And they said I was fine; that they weren’t letting anyone in. But my question was, if I had been there – if I had persisted, could I have gotten the truth? Could I have helped?
“We can never know what might have been, but what is to come is another matter entirely.” – C. S. Lewis
So now, my goal is to be there. No, I can’t be there for everyone, and that’s not my role in every friend’s life. But with the friends that I’m closest to, trust, and who I know trust me – I’m going to check in more often. I’m going to ask them deeper questions. When they say “Fine,” I’m going to try to be a little pushier. Because even though not everyone appreciates that, sometimes they need it.
I’m going to try to love like Christ. To stay there when they push me away, to persist, and to pray for them every day.
And I want to challenge you to do the same. Be there. Really and truly be there. Ask the hard questions. Don’t let their smiles satisfy you. If we could all be there for each other, maybe we’d all feel less alone. And you know? I feel less alone, less depressed, more purposeful when I’m serving someone else. When I get my thoughts off of me and my problems and onto someone else, onto praying and loving and fighting for them – my problems seem less important.
Your friends may not let you in at first. It does take time. But if you’re consistently there, consistently and lovingly asking the hard questions and telling them you’re praying for them, soon they will trust you.
Why don’t you try it? I pray I’ve learned from my regret, and I hope you can too.