The epitome of an author with whom I'm certain I could share a friendship is Jen Hatmaker.
But now, through the process of reading Just Show Up, I feel that same connection and desire with its authors Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn. Kara is no longer here on earth; this book was her final writing as she faced the end stages of her terminal cancer diagnosis. But her personality and brightness come through in such a sweet, sweet way that the tears you wipe from your eyes while reading Just Show Up is due to your heart saying, "Goodness, she was a wonderful friend." As for Jill? Well, her honesty about her more reserved nature, her hesitations of when should she pour into someone else, and the times in which she second guesses how she could best walk alongside Kara resonated with me and my personality on nearly every single page. When Jill states that taking meals to others is a weak area for her (insert my word, which is 'stressful'), I truly said aloud, "THANK YOU!" because I have always felt weak and incompetent through the fact that--for me--taking meals is not my natural area for showing up for others (I have a hard time coming up with and planning ahead for meals for my own family). There's just something about ladies vulnerably sharing their own weaknesses that can help you no longer feel like an island; it's a very comforting and rewarding connection.
The book in and of itself is not a listed "how to walk alongside someone who is suffering". Rather, it reveals the shared experiences of two friends who had to learn to allow others to show up for them and also how to best show up for others. Great insight is found through their examples that make you stop and ponder:
- Where is my place in the circle for showing up for a person going through a difficult time? (We are NOT always called to be the inner circle! And many times, we are called to be the person who is available to the close friends and family who are supporting the person going through the main struggle.)
- Could the words I desire to say come across as empty or even hurtful? (Often, it's just our mere presence that will bring comfort to the person who is hurting.)
- Is God challenging me to step forward and help meet someone's needs? Am I seeking Him as I desire to care for those around me?
- Do I need to give others permission to show up and fill needs within my own life and circumstances?
Beyond the relationship Kara & Jill share, the book reminded me of the various ways I do show up for others (even when I feel like a 'meal-taker' failure). I love to make my friend Mari laugh. Mari, who is going to nursing school full-time, raising 6 kids, and had her house burn down last year. Our lives and our crazy schedules that come from each of us raising 6 kids doesn't allow us many coffee shop moments. But a sideways glance at church, or a comment I know will make both she & I chuckle, or a quip I text her when I know she's at school studying is my way of letting her know I'm thinking about her. My friend Tiffany, who is in the 3rd trimester of her pregnancy and has a demanding full-time job, loves reading Christian fiction at night to help her unwind--when I realized how much she enjoyed me loaning her one book, I began making it more of a priority to loan her anything I own that I think she'd like to read. It's such a small, insignificant act on my end, but it allows her to relax and sleep better at night. I love that we can show up for friends in unique ways!
Full confession: When I received Just Show Up from David C Cook publishing with the sole purpose to read and review it via Litfuse Publicity Group, I was excited yet slightly nervous. I had contacted my friend Sue, who is first and foremost a decades-long friend of my mom's, because I was fairly certain she and Kara had been friends. Sue's response, "Yes! And Jill is a friend of mine, too!", added a little more pressure to my desire to write a detailed and honest review. At that moment I sincerely prayed, "Dear God, let me like this book."
Thankfully & truthfully, I did enjoy Just Show Up. It is a wonderful testimony and challenge of what friendship should look like. It was a precious book for me to personally read, too, as I began my marriage in Colorado Springs and could picture many areas described in the book. And maybe someday, when I return to visit our family who still lives in Colorado Springs, I'll have the chance to attend one of Jill's book signings and tell her, "thanks for hitting 'publish'".