Her husband had been tragically killed.
My legs gave way and I lowered myself to the floor. My head started to spin as I thought about what she would face in just a few minutes. My fingers starting tingling and I realized I needed to start breathing or I might pass out. She was about to hear the news that her life would be forever different.
As I left to try to find her, tears dripped down my cheeks. I wasn't thinking clearly, so I found myself driving in circles. At some point my phone rang, and I saw that it was her. And I knew she knew.
"Where are you?" was the first thing I heard her say.
"I'm trying to find you," was all I could muster. And then we both sobbed.
This is it, I thought.
This is the beginning of brokenness.
Her house filled with more people than anyone could count, and more food than could be eaten. It's what people do when there's nothing that can be done. They come and they cry and they bring food.
She was numb with every emotion known to man. She was confused and mad and engulfed with the heaviness of grief. She went through the motions of the day and evening without realizing time was even passing. She had to tell her son that his daddy had gone to heaven to be with Jesus and try to help his almost three-year-old mind comprehend what adults still couldn't.
While hugging a friend goodbye, she glanced at me over the shoulder and mouthed, "Do not leave me." With eyes that instinctively went wet again, I shook my head and mouthed back, "I won't."
Long after dark, the house finally got quiet and all that was left were the two of us and her mom. We talked long into the wee hours as our minds began to fully soak in the weight of the day. It was the beginning of her brokenness, and she allowed me to walk through it with her.
The next six days brought all kinds of mess and the next six months brought daily reminders that life would never be the same. The next six years brought a new marriage and eventually twin baby girls. Beauty after brokenness.
We had been friends before the tragedy, but after it, something was palpably different. We were different. Our friendship blossomed into something we still don't take for granted. There is complete transparency and honesty between us that only comes from experiencing a broken mess together.
She gave me the privilege of walking with her through her most intimate brokenness, and in return, I got to experience friendship on the deepest level.
Without walking through the brokenness of life, we might not be privy to the beauty that it births in its unexpected ways.
My friend and I barely go a day without texting or a week without a coffee date. We share inside jokes and ridiculous memes and priceless memories. We still shed occasional tears over that Friday several years ago, but more often than that, we share laughs and fun times in the present. Her faith is stronger, her skin is thicker, and her God is more real now than before. And I've gotten to have a front-row seat in seeing all of that take place. And it's been beautiful.
I learned to talk less and pray more. I learned that my presence is more essential than my opinion. I learned to judge lightly and love more freely. I learned to appreciate the different ways people grieve because we are all created uniquely with different bends. I learned that time does not heal all wounds, it simply makes them a little more bearable.
Who needs you in their mess today? Not everyone does, but someone might.
Who around you is hurting and is saying to you, "Do not leave me"?
Who is broken and begs you to reach out and fill them with a glimpse of beauty?
Who is mad or confused or angry and needs you to sit and listen and offer no opinions, only quiet and fervent prayer?
What brokenness in you or in someone else has the potential for unexpected beauty?
You might be surprised at the answers.
We serve a God that can bring beauty from brokenness.
Only Jesus can heal the broken, but sometimes He graciously allows us to be His band aids and tourniquets.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17-18