The Only Fitting Response

My friend wistfully said, “I’d like babies.”

Though she is beautiful and accomplished, she has never married. In her culture and country, her prospects for marriage and children are slim.

I thought of single mothers I know who never married. Some conceived babies out of wedlock. Others chose to adopt.

I thought of women who married late in life and took their chances with a high-risk pregnancy. Others welcomed stepchildren as their own.

I thought of my own children, and whether I’d longed for them with the intensity my friend’s face betrayed.

I didn’t know what to say.

A married friend has struggled with infertility for a decade. She and her husband have had so many disappointments. She shares her heartbreak with those closest to her, a small circle of friends who hope and cry too.

A third friend, married for nearly twenty years, is silent. He and his wife do not have any offspring. His parents long for grandchildren, but in their family they never speak of children, or babies. We do not discuss it either.

What can you say when you have been blessed and your friends have not? How do you respond when you see the tears on another’s face?

My wistful friend’s candor was an unexpected gift.

The latest disclosure of dreams or dashed hopes is a gift too.

The companionable silence is a third gift.

What shall I do with these gifts? The only fitting response is to honor those who give them.

To honor someone is to treat them with high regard or respect, to praise what is precious in them, to recognize their worth.

I may not know what to say when a friend discloses his or her pain, but I know what to do. The Bible says we are to “love each other in genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (Romans 12:10, NLT).

My friends have honored me. Their trust is a treasure. I will honor them in return. I will love them.

Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

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