Kara Tippetts lost her life to breast cancer in March of 2015, but her story is not about loss or disease, it’s about how to see God in the good times and the most difficult of times in life.
Jill Lynn Buteyn and Kara wrote about what true friendship looks like in the midst of joy and suffering. They are co-authors of the book Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking through Suffering Together
Navigating our feelings while we are in the valley of suffering with someone can be an extremely difficult process. Jill elaborates on the importance of discerning who is on the receiving end of our feelings, using the example of a ‘wheel.’
“There were moments where I think people would turn to Kara and kind of say, ‘This is really hard, it’s hard for me to see you suffer.’ The point of this ‘wheel’ is that you really want to comfort in.”
“So I always wanted to be a comfort to Kara. I did not want to complain to her about her suffering being hard on me, but the truth was it was hard to see her suffer.”
“So then I would turn out to an outer circle, so that Kara would be in the middle of the circle. Then I’d maybe be a ring out; family would be the closest to her, and then I would turn out to a group of girlfriends that I had that were kind of from a different world or outside of my care circle, and I could dump out to them when it was a tough day, saying ‘I’m so sad, it hurts to see her in pain, and, you know, it’s just painful.’”
I don’t know how many times this has saved me.”
Jill shares another encouraging example from her book. A time where she was discerning compassionate words to speak to Kara’s husband Jason.
“Kara’s husband Jason was in the parking lot at school and he looked worn, or tired…and just sad and I was about to say, ‘This is so hard on all of us,’ and I stopped myself because of this, and I thought, ‘No. This is hard on him. This is Kara’s husband, he is the closest. I don’t even count in this moment.’ I just said, ‘This is so hard on you, and I’m sorry.’
It can be extremely difficult to know what to say to our friends or family members who are struggling. Jill reminds us that most of the time it doesn’t even involve words. Just show up.