Sometimes I sit down to write and the words flow as free as water. But this time is different.
My friend Kara has been dancing in heaven for one year today. And I really miss her.
Kara was probably the most “friend-full” person I have ever encountered. She knew how to make people comfortable with her genuine care for others. She could sense a need before it was expressed. She was a cherished friend to all who knew her, and many did. Even throughout chemo, with all the people she had surrounding her, her life often looked like one big party. Her magnetic authenticity pulled people in, and kept them close.
Kara was there for me like she was for countless others. She was a mentor, and the most talented asker-of-questions. She was a friend who looked straight through the surface and cared about my heart. She was my fellow pastor’s wife who understood the weight of truly being able to bear one another’s burdens. She was a safe person pointing me to the truth, reminding me what was real, and showing me what really mattered.
Kara knew how to wholly be there-all there– for her husband, her four children, her family, and her friends. She knew how to be there for her people. And cancer never stopped her.
Can I ask you something, mamas? What would it look like if we were really “all there” for each other? What would the “mom club” feel like if we genuinely cared? If we showed up in the easy times and the hard? If we knew how to give grace to each other, and not just expect (or demand) to receive it?
Being a mom is the most rewarding and beautiful experience I can imagine. It is a gift I dreamed of as a little girl and one for which I am forever thankful. But being a mom is hard too. As if the lack of sleep, mountains of laundry, endless diaper changes, and screaming tantrums weren’t hard enough- we sit back and watch other moms smugly. We think in our hearts “I can’t believe she just said that to her toddler. I can’t believe she let her child act that way. I can’t believe she would actually feed her children that!” We get caught up in the mommy wars of comparison, judgement, and deprecation- just because we want to feel better about our own insecurities.
Here’s the beauty of grace- it asks for nothing in return. What if we loved other mamas simply because!? What if we dove into each other’s lives to drive those insecurities away? What if we actually sought to care for each other’s hearts? What if we were as concerned for the well-being of the moms doing life around us as we were for our own? What if we actually listened to each other instead of nodding silently while thinking of something else?
How would really being there change the way we love other people?
Kara wrote in one of her books, “Friends show up for each other. It may be some of the best work we do in our lives, being a friend.” Being a friend is so rewarding. Friendship means you don’t have to walk through miscarriages, failed marriages, and the trenches of motherhood alone.
And if you don’t have friends around you, take a deep breath and have courage. We all crave to be known by others. Just take a little step: make small talk with that mama at the park, strike up a conversation at the library, don’t stand in silence at school pick-up. Making friends isn’t so scary when you take it inch by inch. Venture out onto the two-way street of friendship.
Life is so much easier when people are really there for each other. You can step back, take a deep breath, and get through the good days, and the hard ones. You can speak to people and your own children with kindness because you have received it yourself. You can care about others’ hearts, and in turn, they can care for yours. Love is kind. Love is felt when we are all there, ready and waiting to care for each other. Being all there will add unthinkable richness to life, so take the plunge.
Really be there for the mamas around you, and they will be there for you too.
You can learn more about Kara’s story on her blog, Mundane Faithfulness, which has been continued by her friends and family. She also wrote four books: The Hardest Peace, Just Show Up (co-authored by Jill Buteyn), And It Was Beautiful, and Big Love.