Several years ago, something bad happened to someone that I knew and I never really asked her about it. I didn’t do this because I was condemning, or trying to be cold-hearted. I did this mainly because I didn’t know what to say or what to ask. I was scared. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. And a part of me didn’t want to hear her describe the depth of pain because I didn’t think I could handle it.

More recently, something bad happened to someone I know and I totally asked her about it. I drove to her house. We went for a walk. I was gentle, but I asked. A lot of compassionate but probing questions. And I listened. I wanted to know how she was feeling. I wanted to know how I could help. I wanted to know how I could pray. I wanted to understand. I wanted to stand beside her. I wanted her to feel not so alone.

I have had people fall into both of these camps regarding my current situation. Some that used to chat me up have not said one word to me since news got out. And some have pursued me and entered into my pain right alongside me.

To those of you walking closely, unafraid, thank you. Truly thank you. I know I’m a scandal. I know I’m wearing a scarlet letter ‘D’.I know it would be easier to act all busy and such around me. But you don’t. Of those who have come closer, not one has acted differently around me, and I am beyond grateful.

To those who have kept their distance, please know that I understand. I’ve made that choice before. But I’ve always regretted that choice when looking back. Perhaps your life has been easy breezy and pain gives you the creeps. Maybe you offer up platitudes (“in all things God works for good…”) no matter what the situation is and you’ve noticed a cool stare come your way. Or, who knows, maybe you’ve experienced so much of your own pain that you can’t bear to sit next to a mess right now. I totally get it.

But if there is someone in your life walking through the fire right now, even if it takes everything in you, please consider walking alongside their fire with them. Here’s why. Divorce isn’t contagious. Abortion can’t be caught. Depression won’t rub off on you. Infidelity isn’t infectious. Cancer isn’t communicable. Addiction doesn’t spread. You can walk closely, you can ask questions, you can hold a hand, you can pray, and you can make someone feel less alone, scandal or not. Because something truly is better than nothing.

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.