It is a lesson I cherish, emerging from one of the darkest times. Riely was in an extremely low place. She was suicidal. We had spent that Sunday afternoon trying to keep her from harming herself.
We called our pastor…literally not knowing what else to do.
Rev. Real came over to see Riely. She abruptly told him that there was no light, only darkness for her. She simply could see no hope and God was nowhere to be found. Without hesitation Rev. Real said, “I can sit with you in the dark.” And he did.
She was no longer alone in her darkness!
I was in awe at this moment. He didn’t try to convince her of goodness and light. He didn’t make promises of better times. That takes guts…guts and an incredible amount of compassion.
I learned that when we sit with someone in the dark, we hold the light. Words of assurance are not necessary. False promises of a future we know nothing about cause more pain. A person who can brave the darkness with us, that is God incarnate!
What a hard way to learn this lesson.
Months later I was sitting with a woman at an addiction recovery facility. She was sobbing. She no longer had custody of her children. They would be living in another state with their father. The image of Rev. Real came back to me.
Make no promises. Sit with her in her darkness.When I let go of trying to come up with words of comfort, a shift took place within me. All I had to be was one human being caring for and loving another human being. Sitting with someone in unbearable pain.
The first thing I did when I left the facility was to call Rev. Real and thank him!
Maybe the more I am comfortable with my suffering and frailties the more I can sit with others in their suffering.
Riely continues to have a special bond with Rev. Real. She trusts him deeply and texts him asking for prayers and thoughts when she enters difficult places in her life.