Silence Says Love—whitney wilson
The sun is going down, but we will not turn on the lights. I’m afraid if I move, we will lose everything we’ve built in the last hour. I think it’s something like trust, but thinking about what is happening will take me out of the moment. We are sitting on the itchy Sunday School classroom carpet, our legs crossing over one another’s. Our youth group is meeting in the fellowship hall, while the pastor’s voice of urgency cries faintly from the sanctuary. This is more important.
I am holding her hands like she’s hanging off a cliff. In a way, she is, and I beg God to let every piece of hope and strength I have pass through my fingertips to her. It’s too dark now to see the tears that I know are rolling down her cheeks. The person I was a few months ago wouldn’t know how to respond to what she has told me tonight. Jesus is teaching me that those things are not the point—that He has told me to love. I am trying. Tonight will not be the last night she cuts herself. And I can’t make her put down the razors. But I will love her through it.
All the people who have said they would stand by her have gone. She feels alone and judged and angry. I still don’t know what to do, but I listen. I look her in her eyes to let her know I’m with her, and I listen. I hold her hand, and I listen. And I tell her I’m not going anywhere. People always leave her. I will not leave. I will tell a different story. The part of me that thinks that people are objects to be fixed struggles to find words that will revive her. I am unsuccessful, and I try to remember that people want to be heard and loved. Maybe silence will speak louder than any words that I could say. Maybe if I don’t try to fix her like everyone else, she will trust me.
Two weeks later, we sit in my car trying to cut off the world around us: church, youth group, and wondering eyes. She is still angry at them. I am too. I am angry on her behalf because I have chosen to step into this journey with her. We sit, and she says,
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful, but I don’t understand why you care so much.”
“I can’t explain it,” I said, unsure how to describe how love works. “There is something within me that makes me care. I love you. You are important to me. And I want to help you. It just is. I don’t know how to respond any other way.”
There is silence. We are good at silence, but I wish I could give her something to believe in. I tell her a story that is changing my life—not a parable or a piece of Scripture, just something I’ve read about a girl from Florida that is related to her story, and in it, I see love.
A year later, we meet the man who wrote that story that helped save her life. She has come so far in one year. We have built a beautiful friendship since the first time I grabbed her hand and told her I was in this with her. When we became friends, I had no idea I was beginning one of the deepest relationships of my life. And it isn’t over.
Sometimes, she looks at me with this intense stare, remembering, I think, those first few months of our friendship. Once, I asked what she was thinking when she did that, and she told me how much she loves me. She thinks I saved her. But I think she saved me, too.
The end, but not really.
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so much love.