If you’re a regular around here, you already know that I’m a perfectionist (recovering!). I once sat on the floor at Whole Foods for 45 minutes comparing the protein content, calorie content, and prices of every kind of vegan protein powder. (Settled on this one, if you’re curious. Also it’s $20 cheaper on Amazon. Sigh, I wish past Callie knew that…) I’m really big on weighing the pros and cons and doing the best possible thing I can.
Some things aren’t as easy to calculate as the nutritional content of protein powder. Sometimes options involve people and messy things like feelings, intentions, perceptions, tone, expectations, and needs. Sometimes it’s a lot of guessing.
A few of my friends have been hurting a lot lately. The reasons have spanned from career crises to abusive relationships to second-guessing their faith. All of these are real and involved and I desperately want to help them walk through these valleys and questions. But what should I do?
Sometimes the fear of doing the wrong thing keeps us from doing anything at all. I’m not sure how to help my friend who’s grieving, so I’ll just give her some healthy distance. Lots. Of distance. I’ve done it plenty of times, and I feel like it was with good intentions. But I’ve missed out on helping my loved ones — even in my messy, human way — when I chose to not even try.
Thing is, we might mess up. I might say the wrong thing. I do all the time! I might use the wrong term, the wrong tone, the wrong timing, the wrong everything. I might mess up, but I’ve already messed up if I do nothing at all.
Some of my friends have liked when I strongly tell them why their past decisions were right and they should stick by them. Others prefer my listening silence, and simply repeating back to them what they said as a sign that I heard them. Others like when I explore all possible options for next steps, outlining all of the likely repercussions and consequences. Some want me to distract them. Others want me to only talk about what’s on their mind.
People are complicated. You’re complicated; so am I. But that’s not a reason to run away from us when we are in need. It’s a reason to draw near in Christ-like love.
I’ve accidentally hurt my already hurting friends. And I wish I hadn’t. But I’m still going to keep trying, to keep loving, to keep praying, to keep asking, to keep processing, and to keep doing my best. I’ll do my best while it is my best. And then, when I know better, I’ll do better.