Nobody calls in the middle of the night with good news. My normally innocent ringtone turned ominous the moment it broke the silence and woke me from a sound sleep. After being startled awake in that manner, I wasn’t even surprised to hear sobbing when I finally answered the call.
My friend apologized for calling in the middle of the night and for crying so hard her words were incoherent at first. I assured her that it was okay, that I was there for her. I told her she wasn’t alone, and I told her to breathe. Gently, I asked her what was wrong.
Eventually she was able to speak, and in between sobs she told me what had happened. She was shocked and disoriented; she felt betrayed and scared. After a long pause, she finally asked me, “What do I do now? How will I sleep tonight? How can I wake up tomorrow?”
Bleary-eyed and heartbroken, I wasn’t sure what to tell my dear friend. I didn’t know how to help in that moment. Solidarity and encouraging words only go so far, especially in the immediate aftermath of trauma. And while I could identify with parts of her story, I’d never walked in her exact shoes. Holding my phone with one hand and my head with the other, I silently asked the One who has the answers.
What does she do now, God? What do I do? How can I help her? What do I say? What will even help her right now?
That was when my friend asked me a different question. She asked me if it would all work out. She asked me to tell her that it would be okay. And finally I had something I could hold on to and then offer back to her. Yes!, I told her. Eventually, I promised, everything would work out. Someday, I assured her, she would realize that she had healed, grown, moved on enough to feel okay again. I made sure to emphasize eventually and someday, knowing that my friend would feel the sting of this situation for quite a while. But in that moment, we both felt a glimmer of hope, and it was enough.
She felt a glimmer of hope that, while she was blinded with pain in this moment, it would not last forever. I felt hope that I would not fail my friend in her time of grief.
For the rest of this story and details about my new Bible study, Create in Me a Heart of Hope, please join me over at (in)courage.