Stand by me

A long time ago I had a pastor friend that stood by me during one of the hardest phases of my life. My father had died unexpectedly, my six-year old daughter had been raped and I’d voluntarily given up the job of my dreams overseas to return to the relative safety of the USA and extended family who I felt needed me.

I was exhausted, traumatized, worried and wounded by life circumstances and by a church that in effect abandoned my family in a time of need. But this one pastor, this dear friend, stood by me and let my pain and hurt wash over him without judgment and without internalizing any of it.

While I recognized his love and patience as being extraordinary, I was too wounded to reciprocate. I took him for granted, willingly accepted his practical help and moral support and limped along occasionally raging, often crying. I know I wasn’t much fun to be around.

His loving presence and acceptance of me without needing to correct me and without judgment seeped into my heart and began to change me. I felt the power of his love and commitment and I was softened and warmed by it, and my life was changed.

It’s that memory that keeps me faithful and whispers patience to me when I want to give up.

It takes discernment to know when to stay and when it’s time to pull the plug. There’s no one pat answer. I’m simply relating my personal experience to say, don’t give up too easily. Maybe, just maybe, your patience and love will make all the difference.

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19 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on December 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I got to know the change in you in my time knowing you. You are a beautiful person Kate. Thanks for sharing you. ;-)

    Reply

    • I seem to be constantly changing and growing. It’s something I’m grateful for and I’m especially grateful when people tell me they can see it. I don’t know who you are, but I thank you for saying that you see good in me.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Anonymous on December 12, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    good to see you, Katie.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Eric on December 12, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    How often when others are hurting, we wish that we could do something. We think, “if only I could make this better.” However, what someone often needs is someone to just hear us…

    Reply

    • It warmed my heart to see you here, Eric. I’m honored that you came to read. With regard to your comment, I think we underestimate the deep power of simply being present and accepting. Our words often bounce off, ping back, but presence is a solid, comforting thing and the art of listening nearly lost in a society of constant feedback and noise.

      Reply

  4. For me, that patient acceptance came from Grandpa Melvin. I saw people change around him. They might start off loud and harsh , and sometimes they would wander off that way. But as often as not, you could watch some burden roll off their backs, some weight they didn’t know they carried would slip off . I think it was just a natural grace grandpa exuded. It even managed to seep into a mouthy grandson. Melvin was a big part of the canvas of my youth and I miss him all the time. He would have liked you, Kate. You would have listened to him and wondered at the tears in your eyes and the smile on your heart.

    Reply

    • Every time I hear about him I am even more certain that I would not have wanted to leave Melvin’s side. From his music to his story telling abilities to the kindness I have heard of, I have no doubt I would have loved him. I may not have known him but I know enough of him to see the wonderful ways he inhabits you.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Tim on December 12, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    That is such a transcendent thing, compassion, having someone ‘suffer with’ you… or me. Not trying to change or fix, not pitying, just being there with me/you, in sackcloth and ashes. It’s such a holy thing…

    Reply

  6. Posted by Anonymous on December 12, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I think that’s the difference between people who help others expecting something in return, as opposed to those that help others and realize that they do get something in return … knowing that they had a positive impact. You say you took him for granted. I say no you did not. As he received his rewards through his own actions. You were the one that gave him the opportunity to experience the true meaning of “The Gift of Giving”. That is what I’d call the mutually beneficial power of humanity. Help each other and we get the best reward possible … there is no better feeling.

    Reply

    • Posted by Gregory Needham on December 12, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      Sorry, didn’t mean to be anonymous

      Reply

      • Thank you for leaving your name. I wondered who left such an insightful and meaningful comment. I’m not the least bit surprised to learn it was you.

        “…the mutually beneficial power of humanity.” I love that. I’m not sure why I didn’t see that we were helping each other, Pastor Paul and me. But of course we were. He has always sought avenues to express the love that wells up inside of him and he is blessed whenever he finds them just like you and me. It’s a beautiful thing, our interdependence as human beings. :)

        Reply

  7. Posted by kev on December 12, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    So nice to see you, Katy. :)

    Reply

  8. Your perseverance never ceases to amaze me Kate. I very much enjoyed this and it really touched y heart. There are days I want to give up, just blend in with the woods of where live and let the world pass by. But, I feel God has better plans for me and I must be patient. If I ever needed a lesson in humility, for me, it’s what all I have lost over the past 5 years with this persistent unemployment. I have applied for a job and hopefully I will hear something soon. Thank you so much for expressing your thoughts with this writing, I needed this! Your timing of it is perfect. Blessings to ya Kate.

    Reply

    • My intent in writing this was to encourage people that their love and presence in the life of someone who is struggling may be exactly what that person needs to turn their life around. It’s happened to me more than once but the time I wrote about with my pastor friend was the most significant. I thank God for him.

      I have long prayed for you regarding your living situation and employment. As always, I am in your corner, my friend. You are persistently positive and encouraging despite your circumstances and it’s such a blessing to those around you, including me! :)

      Reply

  9. Posted by Jeff on December 13, 2013 at 4:54 am

    What a gift this person was to you during this time. What a gift your words are to those who read them.

    Reply

    • He has been a blessing to me for so many years now. The bible says that God’s love never fails and my pastor-friend’s love seems very like that to me. I would like to grow into that myself.

      Thank you for your encouragement regarding my writing. It is much appreciated. :)

      Reply

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