Today was one of those strange days. My wife suffered a depressive episode. It was an odd reversal. As she talked about what she was feeling, she suddenly paused and asked me, “Is this what you feel like?” I had to tell her, yes, that is what it feels like, and that is what you’re going through right now.
For me, the painful part was knowing that she was suffering, and wanting to do something about it. I wanted to lift her spirits, to get her out of the dingy, grey pit into which she had fallen. But I couldn’t think of anything. So, we went for a drive, enjoyed the sunshine, and got a bite to eat. We talked some. I tried to listen, but mostly I said nothing. There was a lot of silence.
As wrong as it seems, that helped. I would have thought that a more active effort would have yielded results. Get her mind off of things. Encourage her. Get her to see that the troubles oppressing her were small indeed. I would have thought that I could draw upon my own experiences to help her.
But maybe she didn’t need help. Looking at it now, I think that what she needed was for me to be there.
My Old Testament professor told us that Job’s friends went wrong the moment they opened their mouths. If only they had kept silent and kept witness.
Our desire to do something I think says more about us. The focus comes off the one suffering to what we can do. Being present cedes the initiative. You watch, and wait. Perhaps more will be asked of you, perhaps not.
May I not tire in the waiting, O Lord.