Posted by: kathryngraves | October 9, 2012

The Comforter

“I, even I, am He who comforts you.” Isaiah 51:12

Comforters. There’s a reason we call certain blankets “comforters.” They’re thicker than an ordinary blanket and softer, too. They’re big, enveloping us in cozy warmth. We’ve just experienced a cold snap that hinted of winter, hunkered down and ready to pounce. The weekend was just cold enough to make it fun to drink hot tea, stay inside, wear a flannel shirt, and read.

Or in my case write. I spent the weekend attending a writers retreat in northwest Arkansas. The house we stayed in offered dramatic views of Beaver Lake on one side and a rocky mountainside where deer came to play on the other side. We writers curled up with our laptop computers in comfy chairs and a sofa, content to work while facing the wall of windows with the lakeside view. The one time we ventured out for a walk, it began to sleet, chasing us back indoors.

Another Kind. My friend, Lisa, needs comfort this week. We’ve just passed the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death, and the one-year mark since her son’s passing is coming up.

The other day, I spoke with a young woman who struggled with knowing how to offer comfort to a mutual friend who recently lost a family member. My young friend told me she’d seen our other friend at church and wanted to say something. Wanted to go up to her and hug her. But she held back, unsure of the words she should say. She had no idea how to offer comfort.

Giving Comfort. I remember times when I didn’t know what to say to others in their grief. Now I know, and Lisa does too, that holding back only accomplishes one thing. Isolation for the grieving one. So I’m going to say to Lisa, and to my other grieving friend, “I haven’t walked in your shoes. But I love you and wish I could take the hurt away.”

Just when we think we’re accustomed to pain, something triggers it all over again–like an anniversary.

Fresh Pain. The tendon damage in my left wrist from chemotherapy is better enough that if I wear the brace at night, it only hurts if I turn it wrong. And I’ve learned to compensate for limited usage, so that doesn’t happen too often anymore. But my hair is long enough now that I had it cut into a real “style.” I can either wear it naturally curly or straighten it with a brush and hair dryer. For three days after my first try at straightening, my wrist was as painful as ever before. I was forced to wear my brace around the clock. And the fresh pain brought back to mind all the original pain and suffering.

Real Comfort. I know that’s how it is now for Lisa. So I want this letter to be a hug. Lisa, let the Lord comfort you because no one else really knows how.

Photo/pastel painting by Janet Aiken

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