This is when someone might need you the most …

You don’t have to know me well to know that cold weather and I are not friends. I’ve lived too long in places like Arizona, California, and Hawaii to find cold and snow to be pleasant in any way.

But I tried.

During a year of my teen life, I lived on a farm in northeast Arkansas. It was quite a cultural contrast for a West Coast guy … who was actually born in that small town of Pocahontas, AR.

When winter rolled around and everything was covered with snow, I decided (foolishly?) to take my uncle’s suggestion to do some rabbit hunting. Yes, in the winter, in the snow.

With two pair of thermal socks on underneath high-topped weather-proof boots, and otherwise bundled up with only my eyes exposed, I took my uncle’s shotgun and headed out.

Part of the experience was enormously enjoyable. It was remarkably quiet in the still of the cold, with only the sound of my boots crunching in the snow. The unusual quiet spread a blanket of peacefulness across the farm.

Still, as much as I directed my attitude to enjoy the adventure, I eventually wearied of the cold and headed back to the house.

I thought I had endured my daring foray into the wintery whiteness rather well … until I took my boots off. As my feet warmed, they became racked with pain. I was uneducated about the after-effects of suddenly being in a warm house after an extended period of having one’s feet covered in snow.

My feet, for all their insulation, had been much colder than I imagined, and their “thawing” quickly (too quickly) in the warmth of the house surprisingly caused a good deal of pain!

This simple adventure reminds me of something I’ve seen many people experience, something I’ve experienced myself. That is, sometimes when we are challenged by trials or difficulties in life, we keep moving in order to push through. Once on the other side, we think we’ve done well and arrived safely, but it’s only when the battle is done that we feel the full pain of the experience we’ve weathered.

That’s why it’s so important for those family and friends who were willing to walk any portion of your trial with you to not leave too early. It’s one thing to be with you through the scary journey of your challenges, but sometimes the worst pain comes when the fight is over and you finally feel your wounds.

And that’s when you’ll really need the support of people who love you.

Many times in counseling sessions, I’ve sat across from people who have weathered some great storms in life, only to be perplexed as to why they seem to be hurting so much now that the storm had passed. It’s because they were too focused on gaining the victory during the battle to take full notice of the wounds they had suffered.

It’s when you get to the other side that you need to give attention to healing.

If you know someone weathering a storm or trial or great challenge, remember that they need your support not only in the midst of the battles, but especially after the fight. When the cold of life’s challenges begin to thaw away in the heat of victory, they may feel great pain caused from the experience. They will still need your loving support as they tend to their wounds.

Some of the most intimate moments of a relationship is when we are there for someone who is feeling the pain of their battle. Some of the moments in life we most need a friend is when we feel the pain involved in our healing.

If you really care, stick around. Don’t leave while your friend still has their boots on.