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Column

Hannah Bray

Since my first official job three years ago, I have gradually realized just how much of a “mom friend” I am. Yes, I’m that friend who tells you to eat properly, go to sleep on time, do your homework and stop injuring yourself.

Whether or not I do those things myself is a different matter. And I’m learning that just telling people what to do isn’t always the answer. 

One of the hardest parts of being a “mom friend” has been realizing how little I can help people. 

It my first official job as a clerk at a small law firm, one of my tasks was to set up meetings between clients and the main lawyer. The law firm rented the building from a real estate company. One day, the office administrator from the real estate company came to collect the rent for the law firm’s use of its part of the building. 

the main lawyer whom she wanted to see wasn’t there, so I resorted to my normal clerk strategies of politeness and delay. I offered her coffee, learned her name and asked how her week had been. What I expected to be a short, polite conversation soon turned into a genuine conversation about the woman’s life and her struggles with a young, low-functioning daughter with autism. 

Hearing about how the woman had to help her daughter with so many things and how car trips were difficult for them for reasons that never would have affected most people opened my eyes to just how helpless I was in this situation. 

I can’t heal the woman’s daughter. I can’t tell her it will be all right if she just sleeps off her problems or eats more. I can’t guarantee that her situation will ever get any easier.

The main lawyer never arrived, but our conversation ended up lasting half an hour. I ended up praying with her at the end of it, which felt like the most helpful thing I’d done for the whole conversation. Before she left, she thanked me by name. I awkwardly said it wasn’t a problem, but I was left confused by her gratitude.

I hadn’t done anything to help her, and she was no better off than before. Why was she thanking me? I felt like a fraud accepting her thanks and thought about our conversation a lot over the next couple of years.

Now that I’m at college, I’ve come to the realization that, yes, absolutely nothing about me is capable of healing or helping people in my own strength. I’m not God. 

But God has called us to love one another, and sometimes that means taking five minutes out of our busy lives to genuinely listen to someone or sit with them when they’re hurting. 

Sometimes it’s the time we spend with people and the way we let them have a moment of our time that matters so much more than the words we say to them. We are to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, according to Romans 12:15. And sometimes the best way to do that is just being there for people. 

But God has called us to love one another, and sometimes that means taking five minutes out of our busy lives to genuinely listen to someone. — Hannah Bray