Everyone needs a friend like Karen.
Karen and I have been friends for five years.
She watched me go from being married to being single. She walked with me as I struggled through my divorce, when I couldn’t get off the bedroom floor, and supported me as I slowly began to build my life back.
We both had our struggles and out of those struggles came the words for three books.
Karin is one of those wise souls. Half the stuff that comes out of her mouth would never dawn on me. Seriously, you need your radio show, I always tell her, you’re questions and suggestions are so insanely brilliant.
So much stands out about Karin, but there is one particular gift she has given me that I am truly grateful for;
she taught me how to stay.
Karen taught me how to stay emotionally engaged and work things out rather then shut down and run every time there was a break in a relationship. I’m out of here. I am so fine without them. Done. Just done. That was my default . Every time I would get hurt the walls would fly up, bars would slam down and my heart would be locked up nice and tight and I… I was out.
“No, we need to work this through,” she would insist and I would retreat. She would run after after me and I would try to get away. Who does this, I thought . “In my family,” she said, “we work through things. There are times we use an object and when a person holds it, it gives them a chance to speak and everyone else has to listen.” What, like a talking stick? Seriously, people do that? There is no way I am holding some stick. “The point is that we sit around and we work it out. We listen to what we need and we make sure the other person knows that they were heard.” I sat and listened, my brow creased low. I didn’t have anything to say.
So I stayed. In the beginning I stayed because I knew if I tried to bolt again she would come running after me. Eventually, I wanted to stay because deep down… way deep down, there was this part of me that wanted to be loved unconditionally. In a hidden place well within, my soul longed to be loved in a way that said I’m not leaving. No matter what, you are worth it and you are loved. Don’t we all long for that, dear sisters, a love that doesn’t leave?
It was a slow process and painful process, but little by little I began to experience what happens when you stay. First it was tears- a whole lot of tears- and then words that brought healing to years of feeling unlovable or not enough. I would hear her side and then I would argue back. She would ask me what I was upset about and I would say, I’m not upset. Total lie. Total. I just didn’t have the words to put with my feelings. It’s like my head and my heart had become disconnected. Karin taught me how to connect the two again.
She taught me that I had needs- real needs. Really, it’s okay to have needs. Isn’t that selfish? I learned how to figure out what my needs were and then ask for them. I need you to give me some room to figure this out. What I need is your presence, but not your advice.
I learned how to set boundaries. I love you and I know that you want me to come to this event, but I am going to pass. I need to make sure I am taking care of myself. Yes… I know, it’s amazing work for the Lord, but I am still going to need to pass. This was new for me.
I am still amazed at how our friendship has grown. There is something so powerful about a love that has weathered storms. It is stronger- lasting- more permanent. A few days ago we had a tiff. I think I just need to get off the phone. I think I need to be done talking to you right now. “I think I need to be done, too,” she pushed back. We were frustrated with each other. Everything in me wanted to say, I don’t need you anymore. I’m so done. But, I knew I just needed to blow off some steam. I knew we would come back together. The following morning, I got a text from Karen, “We’re good, right. I know yesterday was a busy day” That’s my Karen. In it for the long-haul.
Oh, dear sisters, how our hearts long to be loved in this way and then I got to thinking because you know my mind never stops there. It got me thinking, I wonder if this is exactly what God desires to say to us, I’m your God. I’m in it for the long-haul. Let me sit with you. Come, dear one, come sit with me. Let us work through what you struggle with- feeling that I am not kind, wondering if I am real and if I see you. Come sit with me. Share your anger- your wounds. Let us cry together. Let us talk it through. Let me share how I feel about you and I will listen to you do the same. Oh, it may not be easy, but I want you to know that I’m not leaving. I won’t leave.