Recently, I found out that good friends of ours had been going through something that no one should ever have to go through. My husband and I were shocked that they had been going through this for two whole years without saying a word. There were some people around us who knew the situation, but many others did not. Our friends had suffered in complete silence. Those who did know found out from other sources. They had suffered alone.
My husband and I had many talks about our friends over that two-year span. We knew there was something drastically wrong, but we didn’t know what it was, nor how to help them. It’s hard to be a support system to people who suffer in silence. We spent two years watching our friends’ whole demeanor change. We watched them age quickly. We saw signs of depression. Her quiet tone and soft words became distant eyes and sequestered thoughts. His twinkling eyes and jovial personality became downtrodden looks and guarded conversation. Each time we had interaction with them, we were enveloped with an unexplained sadness. The only thing we could do was worry and pray.
When we realized what they had been suffering, we were horrified with the situation they have dealt with over the last two years, but we were even more mortified that we had not understood. We had tried to have the same types of jovial conversations we had always had with them, when there was not a jovial bone in either of their bodies. We had simply not understood the magnitude of their sorrow and sadness.
Had we known what was going on, there is no way we would have known what to say, or what to do; but we would have been able to hug them, hold them, and cry with them. Oh, how I wish we would have been there for them! We simply did not know.
Suffering alone is not necessary, nor even desirable. Heavenly Father’s children are here to help each other. We are siblings. We are a large eternal family. Families help and support each other. Simply put, we can love each other out of our sorrow. Ministering is nothing but love. I so wish we had been aware so that we could have ministered and loved our friends. Sometimes the most important ministering we do is that which we do for those we are not assigned to minister. If we had known our friends’ sorrow, we would have been able to help the Lord comfort them. We would have ministered to them and been an instrument in God’s hands. Isn’t part of our baptismal covenant to help those who suffer and bear one another’s burdens?
“And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.
Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” (Mosiah 18:8-10)
“Therefore they did watch over their people, and did nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness.” (Mosiah 23:18)
“Ministering is learning of and attending to others’ needs. It is doing the Lord’s work. When we minister, we are representing Jesus Christ and acting as His agents to watch over, lift, and strengthen those around us” (“What Is Ministering?”, ChurchOfJesusChrist.org).
If you are troubled, if you are dealing with great sorrow, if you are ill, if your life is in shambles, please do not suffer alone. Let those who love you provide comfort and love. There is no shame in life’s sorrows. There is no guilt in adversity. There is no overburdening our friends by confiding in them. What are friends for if not to lift our burdens and provide comfort? There is never a need to suffer alone.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.