We need friends in our lives who deeply care about us – who love us despite our brokenness. We need friends who will be with us no matter what. Henri Nouwen wrote:
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face us with the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
This quote powerfully speaks to me! In this quote I see 5 characteristics of a friend who cares. They are:
1. Doesn’t give advice but shares the other person’s pain. This is a tough one for me. For most of my life as a pastor I wrongly thought that my role was to “cure” people when they were hurting. It’s not! My role is to care! God’s role is to cure! It’s the same with friends. Friends care; not cure!
2. Touches people’s wounds with a warm and tender hand. Three years ago when I was on my medical leave I experienced this first hand from a group of leaders at a pastor’s retreat. I was hurting and broken. The leaders at that retreat tenderly dealt with me. I will never forget their care!
3. Can be silent in a moment of despair or confusion. This is another tough one for me. Everything within me wants to speak in these types of situations because I am uncomfortable with the silence. We need to learn to accept the silence as a gift.
4. Stays with people in their hour of grief and bereavement. A friend who cares gives the gift of presence. They don’t need to say anything. They just need to be there.
5. Stands beside people in their moment of powerlessness. There are no easy answers. There are quick solutions to every situation that people face. A friend who cares will stand by others in these times. They will be the shoulder to cry on. They will offer the hand of support.
This is the type of friend that I want to have in my life. This is the type of friend that I want to be to others!
Do you have a friend (or friends) in your life that demonstrate(s) these characteristics? Which characteristic is most meaningful to you? Which one is the most difficult for you to do?