"I just can't pray for that right now," weeps my friend.
"You don't have to," I say. "God will send friends alongside you for that."
What I mean and what I'm not quite able to articulate at the moment is not that your friends can solve the problem or make it go away but that God sends a friend who has been there, done that, and knows how to pray for you, particularly when you can't bring yourself to ask for what you need.
And last night, it happened to me. We were at a dinner with friends. It was a goodbye dinner for my husband, who will be going back to Korea for an indeterminate amount of time. Like so many such affairs, it was lighthearted and continued as though nothing were really out of the ordinary--until my husband left the room for a few minutes.
Immediately, our hostess leaned over to me and asked, "Are you going to be okay alone with the kids?" At first, I was startled. They translated for me, but it wasn't the words that were the problem. It was the abrupt recognition that, no, not everything was normal (as I had been pretending), that my husband had told others about his plans and it was really going to happen, and that--and this was most important to me--they knew what it was like and cared about me.
I almost cried right there. "I'm angry," I admitted. And I hoped they understood that I'm not so much angry with my husband but with the situation, with not seeing a way out of it, with realizing that periods of absence are just going to be part of our life together.
We talked for a little bit, and I don't even really remember everything that we said. They knew and empathized with my husband's feelings. They had been in similar situations. They had felt those feelings and struggled with those decisions. Sitting in that room was a woman in nearly my EXACT situation (complicated by the fact that she is in ANOTHER country with the kids while her husband is home). What we said didn't matter. They understood.
For the second time in as many days, I just felt completely upheld in Korean family and friends. Even though we can't say everything to one another, we are connected, and we care. And perhaps that is all that is required to keep going.