I have a confession to make.
I agreed to read this book and share my thoughts about it with you several weeks ago.
But I put it off. I knew it would be tough. This book rested safely on my desk between bookends, nestled in between some other excellent reading choices.
I’d look at it and feel a pang that I needed to really get going on it, but then I’d shy away. Why? you’re wondering. Let me tell you…
The book I’m sharing with you is “Just Show Up: the dance of walking through suffering together” by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn.
So what’s the big deal? you may wonder…if you haven’t heard of Kara Tippetts previously.
The big deal is she was walking through suffering when she wrote this book and I knew how her earthly story had ended. She left for Heaven in March 2015. Kara was a highly-esteemed blogger in the Christian community (gosh, any community really) as she shared in the raw about her cancer journey. See, Kara is the mother of four beautiful children and the wife of a pastor husband. She was only in her 30s when her cancer story began and finished. It’s very sobering, frightening, and inspiring.
But Kara’s earthly story didn’t really end. In fact, she lived so well and beautifully while here that she’s left lessons for us for the generations. At her blog Mundane Faithfulness and previous book “The Hardest Peace”, Kara displays grace and gusto like I’ve never seen. She remains respected and revered for her ability to share her story as it unfolded on her blog in such honesty that people drew to her en masse. Her funeral was live-streamed. Her life was and is a great testimony of her love for her family and the Lord. She lived well and died well.
“When we step out in the middle of our fear, God meets us there.” Jill Lynn Buteyn in Just Show Up: the dance of walking through suffering together
If you weren’t inspired and touched by Kara when she was here among us, you will be changed by this book. I was. This book is a relationship. It’s a way of living. It’s a beautiful bond that was formed between the two authors as they chained up their souls one to the other and committed to walking this path together.
It’s told in alternating chapters, from the viewpoint of Kara, the one walking through what she calls the “hard” and the viewpoint of her cherished friend, Jill Lynn, as the friend who chose to “just show up.”
“Suffering is not the absence of God’s goodness.” Kara Tippetts, in Just Show Up: the dance of walking through suffering together
I’ve walked through my own hard and have walked alongside others in theirs. This shed new perspective on what it’s like and how best you can hold hands and move through this. And the “hard” doesn’t have to be cancer as it was for Kara. “Hard” can be a job change, a big move, a divorce, a chronic illness, loneliness, depression…whatever your “hard” looks like.
There are many ways we can show up for each other. And there are the right ways and the “less right” ways. Kara and Jill Lynn share those with us in this book so unique. I picked this book up one day and put it down the next, having read it literally over the course of that day. When we know someone who’s suffering, sometimes our first reaction is to leave them alone, especially if it’s an illness. We assume they want and need to be left unbothered, that it’s a private suffering. Sometimes that’s true. But there are still ways we can show up. We have to shed the discomfort of wondering when or how we should ask, and just show up by asking a family member, closer friend or gently ask on our own and offer specific ways to help. And be ready to help or be called upon later if it’s a “not right now.”
This book…these women…their words…will change your life. I in no way benefit from telling you that. I was just that moved, informed, and touched by this book and I want you to be too. We all go through a hard and whatever that looks like for any of us, the best thing we can do is just show up.
Meet Melanie P. :
Melanie Pickett is a mom, wife, writer, blogger, and Jesus girl. Melanie spends most of her time at her own blog, melaniespickett.com where she writes about her domestic abuse survival, healthy relationships, life, and faith. She is busy with her work in progress, her first nonfiction book. Melanie contributes to Sonoma Christian Home and has been featured on BlogHer.com and published on Splickety Magazine, Whole Magazine, Breathe Writers Conference blog, and various other blogs as a guest writer. She is a volunteer at Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies. Having worked in the medical field for nearly two decades, Melanie recently “retired” so she could concentrate on her family and writing career. She is also a substitute teacher. Besides writing, Melanie loves to read, travel, enjoys hockey, playing piano, listening to music, helping and encouraging others, speaking on Periscope, volunteering, movies, and hanging out and cheering on her very favorite people: her family. Melanie lives in west Michigan with her husband, two teen children, and her pug Gracie and beabrador Lillie. Her favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11 and one of her favorite quotes is: “They call us the dreamers, but we’re the ones who never sleep.”