You’ll never know how much we love you. If you know someone who’s needed support, then you know, we are struggling here, over on the sidelines. Big time. Life has kicked us around and we are curled up on the side holding our bruises, trying to find our way back into the game. Death, divorce, disabilities, chronic pain. It may look different for each of us but it’s trying to take us down. That means we aren’t good at saying thanks. We aren’t good at returning the favor. We don’t have the space to write thank you notes. Or the strength to pick up the phone. And even if we did there would be no words. But let me assure you, if you’ve supported a sideliner you have their love, loyalty, and gratitude for all of eternity. We need you. Desperately. But we can’t thank you properly for all of the same reasons that we need you so very desperately.
A small moment amidst a very foggy time for me, but the memory is clear. My body was done because my heart and mind were spent. I lay half asleep on the small love seat. Quietly, she pulled a blanket up over my shoulders. I opened my eyes a bit, “I have to go,” she said, “but I wanted to check on your first.” My house was full of women that day. Some I knew well. Some hardly at all. I’d reached the point in my divorce that it was time for the kids and I to move and they’d come to help me pack. All I had to do was shake my head, nod, or shrug my shoulders and they figured it out. When I collapsed on the couch they just kept figuring it out. At a time when I could hardly think, let alone pack, they showed up for me and did what I couldn’t. Just one of the sacrifices made for me when I was in deep need.
The men in our church showed up for me that next day, moving trucks and muscles. I’ve never seen a move go so quick.
One couple purchased mattresses for my children. Another man bought them bunk beds.
I can’t even count the meals that were made for me.
Men who fixed my car. Women who cleaned my house.
My parents, whom I’m certain did more than I even know.
Girlfriends who cried with me, talked with me into the dawn, and even slept in my bed when I couldn’t stand to be alone.
And that woman, the one who covered me with a blanket. I’ll never know how much she sacrificed to support me, how much of my pain she carried on her own shoulders. The kind of friend who would walk through fire with you. I’ll never be able to pay that back. Ever. I’ll never be able to make it up, to give what she gave, to give what any of them gave in return. I think of her, and each of them many days. They are in my heart, on my mind, regularly. The depth of the suffering I was in increases the magnitude of the gifts they gave. I needed them. Needed. Trying to find a way to thank them seems almost silly. Its laughable to think that there are words that could possibly sum up my thankfulness.
So I’m saying it now, to you. If you supported me. Thank you. If you’ve supported someone else, even in small ways. Thank you. If you’re still supporting someone, who may never be able to pay it back. Thank you. I know those words don’t cover it but I mean it. We mean it. From the bottom of our toes to the tops of our heart. Even when we can’t muster the wherewithal to say it. We love you. We hold you and the things you’ve done close. We couldn’t have done it without you. We never could have pulled ourselves back into the game without your outstretched hand. Thank you. For picking us up. For dusting us off. Over and over. For the meals. The help. The listening. The tears. And for continuing to give even when you get nothing in return. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus. Thank you for letting us see the love of God through you. We feel him because of you. We know he loves us because of you. And that is what it’s all about. A thousand times. Thank you.