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One of the greatest gifts you have to offer: The ministry of your presence

The ministry of your presence: One of the greatest gifts you have to offer{The four of us together at a cabin in the mountains last year.}

The four of us met two years ago at the SheSpeaks Intensive. We were all in the same breakout group at the conference together and we connected within the first day.

We live in 4 different time zones. Our age range spans about 15 years. But, despite this, God knit our hearts together and forged a deep and lasting bond between us.

We’re all authors and speakers trying to manage full lives, fulfill the calling God has given us, and keep our families as our main priorities. We all have very diverse backgrounds and stories, but similar struggles. And we all knew we needed some safe friends to join us in this sometimes tumultuous and exhausting journey.

From the get-go, we committed to be all in as friends. To make our friendship a priority. To speak the truth. To cheerlead. To love well. To always believe the best. And to deal with conflict immediately.

Over the past two years, our bond has been strengthened as we’ve weathered a lot of life together…

The ministry of your presence: one of the greatest gifts you have to offer{At the Launch Conference together last year with a “Flat Stanley Renee”.}

We’ve celebrated book launches and successes. We’ve cried together over heartache and struggles. We’ve laughed over the silliest of things.

We’ve prayed countless prayers… over health issues, big decisions, personal struggles, and so much more. We’ve walked through the death of loved ones together.

We’ve stayed up way too late talking together in person. And we’ve blown up many a text stream together in just a matter of minutes.

We’ve seen each other at our worst and our best. We’ve shared hotel rooms and bathrooms. We’ve cooked meals together, grocery shopped together, and gotten lost driving way too many times.

The ministry of your presence: one of the greatest gifts you have to offer{The four of us together at a cabin in the mountains last year.}

And, most recently, we’ve walked through Michele’s battle with cancer together. Our hearts have bled for her and the pain and suffering she’s undergone as a result.

We’ve rallied around and supported her as best we knew how from afar — sending care packages and flowers and cards and texts and emails. Storming the gates of heaven on her behalf. Doing all we can to make her laugh. Being a safe place for her to share about those dark hours.

But we wanted to do more than just text and write and pray and send gifts in the mail. We wanted to go. To be there. To hold her hand. To sit with her in her pain. To be in the same room with her. To try to communicate how much we love her.

So, a few months ago, we worked out babysitters and speaking schedules and calendars and blocked off the days around Michele’s book launch to go to be with her. And on Saturday, we each boarded a plane — from California, North Carolina, and Tennessee — and flew to Denver to be there with her.

We were so honored that she would let us come — especially so soon after her treatments and while she’s still in the thick of the recovery process. We couldn’t stand not being with her.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 7.25.47 PM

On Monday, Michele had a little energy so we were able to take her to a local spa and then got coffee drinks and sat on her couch and laughed and cried and shared our hearts.

Tuesday — the day of Michele’s book launch — was a hard day for her. She was in a lot of pain and really exhausted. She spent most of the day resting. But even when she was sleeping, we wanted to be as near to her as we could.

So we all sat on one L-shaped couch, prayed for her, talked quietly, watched her Amazon book rankings soar, and updated her on how her book launch was going every time she woke up.

We kept asking her if she needed anything or if she wanted us to leave. And every time, she’d say, “No, I just want you near to me. I need you here. I just want to wake up and have you close by me.”

The ministry of your presence

Friends, so much of the time, we want to serve and do things for other people. We want to try to fix their problems. Or lessen their pain. Or we feel like it’d be easier for them if we leave them alone.

There is a time and a place for helping in practical ways, but sometimes, those who are going through dark times just need someone to come and sit with them in their pain and hurt.

They don’t need words. They don’t need acts of service. They don’t need fixing.

They just need the ministry of your presence. They just need to know that they are not alone.

The beautiful and unexpected result of this was that each of us left our time together feeling so filled up. And our hearts were further knit together by just sitting together like this. Not doing. Not fixing. Just being there for our friend in her hour of need.

Sometimes, the best way to help is to just to sit with someone in their pain.

So I encourage you: who in your life is struggling? Who is going through a dark and difficult situation?

Go sit with them — either physically or metaphorically. Let them know that they are not alone. That you are with them. That you love them. And that you are going the distance with them.

Give them the ministry of your presence. It’s one of the greatest gifts you have to offer.

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  • Karen says:

    Beautiful! When my infant had open-heart surgery at 4 months old, friends who couldn’t be with us promised to stay up, pray, and watch my updates until she made it through. Even though there were complications and the surgery went until after 11 pm- midnight my friends’ time, they stayed up praying and sending little comments. That meant the world. Three years and another heart-surgery later, my daughter is doing great. I will never forget those who stayed up with us even though our family was alone in the waiting room.

    • Jo says:

      That’s so beautiful! And I’m grateful that your daughter is doing so well now!

    • Jody says:

      I came one here to leave a reply similiar to yours! When my son was born with a lot of challenges and had open heart surgery at 4 mos (tetralogy of fallot), I really learned the importance of people just being there, not trying to fix it or trying to shut me down if I expressed how I was feeling but just being there and allowing me to be what I needed to be during that time. I learned a lot from that in the way I am now when others are really going thru something. There’s something so powerful in just listening and being there and letting people go thru all the emotions they need to and not trying to stop them from it.

      One of the greatest gifts we were given during the time our son had his surgery was people letting us know they were praying for us. We couldn’t pray, at that time it made us concentrate too much on what was happening and instead we connected with another family who was waiting also and it was really beautiful. What made it even more beautiful was knowing that we had people standing in the gap for our son when it was emotionally too much for us. People are so so important.

  • Jasmine says:

    A little over 2 years ago, my mom died of breast cancer. A friend’s mother had also died of cancer the same summer. My friend called me one day and asked if I would like to go to her neighbor’s house with her for some refreshment. My children and I went with her and her children to her neighbor’s house. When we got there, we were given a beautiful private concert by the neighbor’s older children, then served desserts and snacks. As we ate, the neighbor and her friend talked with my friend and I about our mothers, their lives, their deaths, our lives, and our grief. They listened intently and allowed us to remember, to grieve, to talk. I had never met these women but they poured into my life. As we were leaving, I saw a picture of you on the fridge. I never saw your mom again as we moved shortly after this, but she will always be remembered for the kindness she showed me that day.

    • Jo says:

      I’m so grateful that they were able to minister to you like that. And I’m so sorry about your mom {hugs!}.

      {I emailed my mom about your comment because I know it will bless her to read it.}

  • Marie says:

    Amen!! I have tears flowing from my eyes. After watching my mom go through a transplant, and then the days of recovering, this is so true. Just to tell someone that you are sad they had to go through the valley. Just to listen to them without giving them all of your own person problems. It’s the Mary/Martha part of the Bible. Just be intentional with sitting and listening to someone else. Thank you for the post. It truly blessed me today.

  • Anne says:

    Absolutely beautiful! Seeing your loving friendship made my day.

    • Jo says:

      I’m so grateful! It’s truly a gift! And it’s the answer to many prayers I’ve prayed for friends who are willing to pour into my life, go the distance, and be committed — and friends I can do the same for.

      • Anne says:

        We’re moving from the Seattle-area to Portland-area at the end of March. I hadn’t thought to start praying about finding new mom friends. Like you, I’m an introvert and prefer authentic friendships where we feel safe to bear our souls. I will start praying now!

  • Angela says:

    Thank you so much! I had been contemplating visiting a relative battling cancer, booked the flight, and then saw this article. This has encouraged me to know I’m doing the right thing!

    • Jo says:

      This put a HUGE smile on my face — I’m SO glad! You definitely are doing the right thing and I know you will be an amazing encouragement to your relative.

  • Yvonne says:

    “And that you are going the distance with them.” – God bless you Crystal. As someone who has had dark periods of chronic illness, I can say that I truly longed for friends to stick with me, to feel assured they would stay and walk through illness with me and still be my friend at the end of it, but this doesn’t always happen. When it does, it’s a true blessing.

  • Awmeme says:

    Just reading this has me bawling. My grandma (last living grandparent) died on 2-20-15. My husband and I have just moved over 24 hrs. from our families around the first of the year. I am in poor health so wasn’t able to be with her or family during her last days or for her funeral. However the Lord has blessed us with some friends who have become surrogate grandparents for us. Who have just been there for me/us to just listen to me tell endless stories and memories of my grandma.

  • Victoria says:

    Beautiful words, I am sitting hear crying and nodding my head while I read. It is hard to sit but you are right it is what a lot of people going through a rough time need, just someone to sit in the room and let them rest, or cry, or just be. Of course our Savior is always willing to do just that, but there is just something special about those here on earth willing to do the same.

  • Gil says:

    You folks are good friends. Your post made me think of this comic strip I saw a while back about what to do for someone who is depressed – .

    Quick curious question – what do you mean by “ministry” in the way you use it?

    I am not Christian and I used to hear Christians often use the word, when we lived in America, but I was never quite sure what the connotation is. When you say “ministry,” do you mean “representing God(liness) to someone”?

  • Paula says:


    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I have 2 dear women who I have been best friends with for over 25 years and we will do anything for each other! It is so true that sometimes we just need to sit with one another and not even say a word. Just our presence is enough.

  • Wendy says:

    Crystal, this made me choke up, thinking of not just the times people have been there for me and vice versa, but also the times I haven’t been there. Thank you for this transparency, and the reminder that we are all just like everyone else, and we all need each other.

    • annie says:

      Thank you for saying this out loud. I too have missed some opportunities to be a friend.

      As always, such a well written post that each of us can relate to in some way. I’ve been re-reading older posts too about how to nurture friendships. Todays post reminds me that we are enough.

    • Jo says:

      I know there have been many times I’ve not been there for someone, either. It can be awkward and uncomfortable and it’s our nature to shy away from those types of things. But there are beautiful rewards if I’m willing to truly put myself out there and be the friend to others that I want others to be to me!

  • Cheryl says:

    I ordered Michele’s “Undone” for my kindle and have almost finished it (plan to finish it on my work break) What an amazing woman and book! Thanks for the update on her, I will be praying for her and her health and family. Please pass along to her that a gal in Michigan has been blessed by her book and is praying for her!

    • Michele Cushatt says:

      Thank you, Cheryl. Grateful for your prayers and friendship! And I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. We’re in this together. 🙂

  • Cheryl says:

    Crystal, Thank you for the post, how true! I purchased Michele’s book for my kindle and have almost finished it. What an amazing book! Thank you for the update on her and her health. I will be praying for her and her family. Please pass along to her that a gal in Michigan loved her book and how her writing has touched me!

  • Steve Kobrin says:

    Your words hit home. People need the company of others to get through the tough times – illness, the death of a loved one, even the loss of a job. Then again, don’t we treasure the company of others at the good times, such as weddings? Don’t these occasions call for “ministry” as well?

  • Heather C. says:

    So beautifully written, true and loving friends are such a blessing, my best friends are the ones who on the worst day of my life dropped everything immediately and came and just held my hand for hours while I let the reality of what was happening sink in, I really will never forget that and I’m sure your beautiful friend won’t either…. I once heard a saying that “love is an act, not just a word or a feeling.” This I think resonates that completely with the act of your presence… :o)

  • Ashley says:

    Great post, Crystal! Walking through cancer with someone is excruciating, and my heart bleeds that I couldn’t give my dad the gift of my presence through the bulk of his fight. Being a fixer by nature, it is so hard to not interject and impose my opinions on someone else’s struggle. This is a beautiful reminder that presence is far more beautiful than words. May God bless you and your friends as you continue on this path!

  • Deborah says:

    How true! I lost my husband after a short battle with cancer at the age of 51. My friends showed up in a huge way and still do a year later. They stayed the duration of his hospital stay and when we knew his life would soon be over some of our dearest friends came and just sat. My two boys and I had been moved to a private area but they stayed and waited. When he passed away we went to be with these dear friends (near 50+) and prayed. Their presence was all that was needed when words just wouldn’t come.

  • Jennie says:

    Sometimes we forget that just “being” is wonderful therapy. When my mother was being treated for breast cancer, we were in the middle of caring for our medically fragile little girl. She was 2 hours away, but she might as well have been around the world. But the mama’s in my little special needs community all wrote encouraging notes for my mom and I printed them all off and mailed them so she had them when she arrived home from her 1st chemo treatment.

    When people just know we are loving and praying for them, I think that is beneficial for healing as well. Many times as I’ve sat with my daughter in the hospital after surgery, just having those quick visits, someone to just hold hand for a few minutes, to love on us, brightens the day. You are all blessed to have each other!

  • Susan says:

    I love the website The Truth about
    I have learned a ton and its empowering to read or hear all the testimonies of those who have success stories. For me it was empowering. All this knowledge has taken away the fear about cancer. It’s powerful knowing there are choices. It’s allowed me to have many conversations and my knowledge on cancer has soared.

  • Tanya says:

    I was so inspired by this post. As someone who deals with a chronic illness on a daily basis, it was so nice to see friends not just asking if there is anything I can do for you, but just showing up! You are blessed to have such a close knit group of friends!

  • kariane says:

    Yes, presence can truly be a gift: for our partners, our children, our friends, and ourselves.

    Thank you for this reminder.

  • Christal says:

    Thanks for sharing Michelle’s story here with us. I will have to make sure we have this book ordered for the library where I work. It looks terrific!

    Thank you for having the courage to write and speak to all of us on deeper levels. Sending prayers and positive vibes your way!

  • Cynthia Berg says:

    Thank you, I really needed to see this post today. Just two hours before I read this my best friend told me that her cancer had returned for the third bout in two years. I was wondering how I can stay strong for her and her family when I feel so helpless. Thank you for reminding me that just being there is what she needs.

  • Patrice says:

    Thank you for your post. This just made my heart smile. My friends and I have been going through a difficult season. I have so much on my plate that I don’t have the time I use to have for them and its been like this for a while now. I am trying to scale back because I want them to know that I really do value them. I am a single mom with three kids and they are just always so busy that I barely get the time for me, let alone, time to spend with my friends, no matter how badly I desire it. I am going to figure things out and make it happen though because my friendships are important to me.

  • Archie says:

    Sometimes all a person is someone to be there for a person and listen to them and really listen to what they are saying . We all need friends who will pray for us and encourage you during the good and bad times.

  • Archie says:

    Sometimes all a person need is someone to be there for a person and listen to them and really listen to what they are saying . We all need friends who will pray for us and encourage you during the good and bad times.

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