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Learning To Live
Five years ago this week I lost a friend. The word friend doesn’t seem to even adequately describe her because she was so much more. Emily changed my life.
I met her during a very dark period in my life since I was just diagnosed as being chronically ill and I was so bitter at the prospect of being in constant pain for the rest of my life. I was grieving since my plans were upended and life wasn’t going to be what I thought. We ended up in the same dorm at college and instantly, I thought she was one of the sweetest and brightest people I’d ever met.
And then I found out she had cystic fibrosis.
Her deep love for people stemmed out of her profound love for God and her relationship with Him. She took each day as it came. It was humbling for me to watch someone deal with far more than I ever will and yet live with far more grace in spite of it.
She taught me how to live.
Pain isn’t something to be feared like I thought it was. It just is and we have to take it as it comes. While I’ve heard people insisting that God never gives us more than we can handle, the truth is that actually isn’t in the Bible (read this here); pain and tragedy will floor us a times in our lives. In those dark and lonely hours, it will be more than we can handle. I know. I’ve been there. Emily was there too. The truth is that God can handle it for us. He promises to never leave nor forsake us.
We only have two choices in this situation. We can lean into God or we can run away from Him. We find comfort in trusting Him in the midst of the pain, or we can blame Him for inflicting it on us. Even being angry with Him for failing to save us from it is no different from blaming Him because with this response, we slowly and meticulously build brick upon brick and construct a wall between us and God.
We do this because we think we are owed more. Because we think our plan was better. Because we don’t see things as they really are.
I’ve always been a huge fan of C.S. Lewis ever since my dad read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to me when I was tiny, but one of my favorite books by him is Till We Have Faces. It’s a classical story; a retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth as told from a sister’s perspective. The main character’s journey is one of learning what love is and how to see ourselves as we truly are. Only then can we really see God.
It’s an incredibly easy read and yet incredibly thought provoking. I saw myself in it before I met Emily.
It’s so easy to dwell on the wrongs done us and we find ourselves justifying our response, arguing our case, ranting even. We become so consumed with ourselves that we fail to see the beauty in what is going on.
There always is some.
There is grace; this is not the end, not really anyways.
Emily died at age 27. I will always wish I had more time with her, but I’m immeasurably grateful for the time I did have. Even though her time was short, she did more than most people can do in a lifetime, at least in the things that really matter. When she left, she left a hole that was so large it could only be filled by God because that’s where her heart was: in Christ.
I’m so thankful for God putting her in my life and for her offering such friendship. I’ve learned to see who I am, the person I should be, and the gap in between. This gap can only be bridged by seeing God for Who He is and filled by His grace.
No matter where we are in life, we all have this gap. Where’s yours?
If you aren’t quite sure or looking for a thought-provoking story, you can pick up a copy of C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces here at Amazon. This is an affiliate link meaning any purchases you make through it may earn me a small commission which goes towards keeping this site running. You will never pay more for using it. Thank you for your support!
I hope you all get to experience the blessings of having an Emily in your life. And even better, may we strive to be Emilys to those around us.
Miss you, Friend! I miss our talks, hanging out, eating chocolate malted crunch at the end of the hallway, guessing how much gas your car had in it, pranking friends, and I really miss your smile and laugh. Thank you and I’ll see you again one day 🙂
18 thoughts on “Thoughtful Reads: Till We Have Faces”
This is such a beautiful post. I was never angry with God for the pain I endured, because I believed I somehow deserved it. Then again, I didn’t do anything to get me my mental and physical health issues, and how or why I got them isn’t the point. The point is allowing God to help me get through each day with grace and gratitude. I will go have a read of that book if I can find it in a format I as a blind person can read (probably not through your affiliate link unfortunately but I’ll go have a look).
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Astrid! Isn’t it crazy how we somehow think we should blame ourselves for our pain? I’ve done that too and it keeps us from seeing the point in all the pain most of the time. I’m so thankful that God doesn’t waste anything and I’m often grateful for my pain that it keeps me dependent on Him although I do wish it didn’t have to be such a struggle or hurt quite this much. I hope you enjoy the book; I find myself going back to it all the time. I think Amazon actually offers it as an audiobook too 🙂 though that is never quite the same as reading since if you are like me, I love to just lose myself in the words at my own pace. I’m so glad you stopped by! Hope that you have a blessed day!
What a beautiful tribute to your friend! A life that leads a lasting impact on those around her is a life well lived. Learning to run to God through our pain and sorrow can be hard, but then again, I don’t truly understand how others make it through their day without the comfort of our Lord. Thank you for sharing Emily with us!
Thank you so much, Kim! Yes, Em’s life was well lived- she made an incredible impact on so many people for God. I definitely understand about running to God in our sorrows- I couldn’t do this without Him either 🙂 I’m so glad you stopped by! Hope you have a beautiful day!
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May we always lean into God and not run away from Him! This is a beautiful and inspiring post. Linked up with you at Proverbs 31 — hope you’ll stop by Saved by Grace for a visit!
I can’t wait to stop by your site, Laurie! I hope that you have a great day of leaning into God 🙂
What a wonderful tribute! I agree, during those hard times is when we need (more than ever) to lean in to God! He will never leave us. #TestimonyTuesday
Thanks so much, Ellen! I’m so glad that you came by! I felt to blessed by my friend and I wish you all could have met her.
Such a beautiful tribute to your friend as well as a reminder to us of the chances we have to chose joy or anger. Thanks for sharing. (Visiting from RaRaLinkup)
Thank you, Amy! She was incredibly special and a huge example for all of us in how she chose to live joyfully and follow God even though she was dealing with far more than the rest of us ever will. So glad to connect with you!
I found your point about those that say “God never gives us more than we can handle” and your response that it is indeed God that is there to handle the difficulty for us very insightful.
Thank you for sharing!
Thanks so much, Karen! I struggled with that for such a very long time because when I was very sick after first being diagnosed, people said that too me all the time. I felt like I was at the end of my rope since this “promise” wasn’t in line with my situation and I felt abandoned until I read more scripture… and realized this isn’t actually there. It was so much more incredible to hear that God promises to always be there though and it made such a profound difference for me. It’s okay when things are too hard; God is still there. I’m so glad it was helpful for you and thrilled to connect with you!
To have the promise that you will one day see her again is so amazing. I am so happy that you were able to experience such a wonderful friendship if only for a small while God blessed you well. Thank you for sharing such a beautifully moving post. I truly loved it. ♥
Thank you so much! It is so encouraging to know that it isn’t really goodbye as painful as separations like this are. I’m keeping her family in my prayers since I know how loved she was and still is 🙂 Thank you so much for your encouragement and I’m so glad I could share with you!
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I praise God for creating her. What a gift. She has now inspired us all through you! Cheering you on from the #RaRalinkup on Purposeful Faith.
Thanks so much, Kelly! I’m so glad I could share her with you! Her friendship was such a gift and I’m so glad that God placed her in my life. I miss her like crazy, but am so thankful for the time I had with her. I’m so glad to connect with you, Kelly!
What a beautiful post. I’m so sorry you lost your friend at such a young age. I had an Emily – she was remarkable, steadfast, determined, loving, and full of life. She died at the age of 32. I was devastated.
Like you said though, God is the only one who can fill that hole. He is so very good.
I love C.S. Lewis but haven’t read this book yet. I’ll have to check it out.
Thank you for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).
Wishing you a lovely day.
Thanks so much, Jennifer! I’m so glad that you had a precious friend like this too. I keep thinking that in friendships like this with such amazing people, no amount of time is enough. I hope you like the book! It is one of my favorites and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it later after you get around to it (which with how busy we are will probably be a while, right 😉 ?!) Hope you have a wonderful day too!