Life is just flat out hard, isn’t it? My guess is that most of you reading this today are battling something that has knocked you over a time or two, or threatened to, anyway. Maybe it’s hard to catch your next breath and you have no idea how you’re going to get through this thing. Maybe it’s not fair and doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s rocked your faith as much as it’s rocked your life.

I hear it in the conversations I have throughout my weeks. My friends are fighting incredible battles and I watch, I pray, and sometimes I’m able to jump in and fight beside them. Sometimes, though, there’s nothing I can physically do. That’s hard, too: the helplessness.

Last week, a friend of mine asked if she could stop by and see me after she dropped off her kids at school. I loved it that she felt free to ask and sent a resounding yes while I brewed a fresh pot of coffee.

I started to scurry to put on makeup and accessorize my outfit, but I decided to just be. I opened the door wide to welcome her, wearing my sweatshirt and workout pants, invited her to kick off her shoes and curl up in the big brown chair that feels like a giant blanket. I gave her the electric blanket and a cup of coffee and for the next three hours, we just sat, talking.

Life was hard, and she shared her soul. The wounds and confusion and weariness all came pouring out and while I couldn’t do anything to fix it, I listened, I said the things I felt the Lord nudging me to say, and I kept our coffee cups full and warm.

It turned out what she needed that day was a place to rest. She needed a place to go where she knew she’d be welcomed. She needed to be able to show up in her own sweatshirt and workout pants and know that she would still fit the dress code. She needed to know there would be coffee and blankets and chairs that feel like a safe hug.

Life is hard, and we can’t always fix it for those around us. But we can be there. We can be real. We can be safe for them. Sometimes that goes so much farther than we even know.

When my friend left, I could see the refreshment in her face. Not a single circumstance in her life had changed. All the wounds and all hurts remained. We’d solved nothing. But a few hours of sweats and coffee and blankets had brought about a new perspective and a strength to walk back into battle.

It was a good lesson for me that day. I tend to be the girl who likes to be the hostess with the mostest. I want to plan for guests and create a memory for them. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s also nothing wrong with just being a safe place for friends to land.