The Parable of Coming Home Again

The Parable of Coming Home Again

Two friends accompanied another friend home from the hospital – a journey that took two plane flights and 24 hours of driving through 10 states over three-and-a-half days. The friend in the hospital was in a very dark and lonely place. Addictions and crushing mental health challenges have caused him and his family considerable anguish and distress over the years. He had been trying to manage his demons in a variety of ways. But he hit rock bottom when it all became too much. His latest stay for treatment was rocky and ended badly. So, he needed to be back home to seek new therapies and new professionals to help him find healing.
His situation was heart-wrenching. His fears were profound. His pain was overwhelming. His hope was diminished. His connection to others was barely alive. He struggled with grave uncertainties. He felt awash in deepest darkness. His joy was gone. His dreams were shattered. His future was, at best, he feared, destined to be filled with more anguish, more distress, more brokenness. It was an unending cycle. He wondered – will it – can it – ever end?
In many ways his two friends felt helpless to help, inadequate to provide adequate responses for all the questions he raised, to the statements he made:
Tell me there’s hope.
Nothing helps. Nothing. Nothing.
I can’t do this. I just can’t.
No one understands.
I’ve screwed it all up.
I’m worthless. I don’t have it in me to face this anymore.
Oh, there were more, many more on their journey to accompany him home. And long periods of silence too. Hours in the car, each of their thoughts racing, the friend in distress drenched in a flood of anxiety that weighed like concrete on his chest. His wife, waited for them at home, when they arrived, ready, eager needing desperately to talk. Intense, short bursts of conversation with him. Long, deep, searching conversations with her.
But as helpless as his two friends felt to help, they knew that when there were no easy answers, no simple responses for making their friend’s life whole again, there still was something they could do. That something was simply to make the journey home with him. To sit with him, drive with him, be in silence with him, listen to him when he cried out. It was to reassure him, to allow him to hold onto them and to hold him back, to tell him that they loved him – and mean it – even when he sometimes acted unlovable. It was to pray for him when he asked for that. And it was to acknowledge his understandable doubts when he declared that God must not be listening. It was all those things and more.
That’s what friends try to do when another friend is in trouble, feeling alone and afraid. It is simply to be present in the pain. To walk with them through the darkest valley. To accompany them back home again.
And then, maybe, in all that, to help them begin to find the light again.

 

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