"Just Show Up" is both a practical guidebook and a personal revelation, co-written by two friends, Jill and Kara. At the time of the writing, Kara was fighting cancer, and Jill was part of her supportive (and beloved) community. Shortly before publication, Kara passed away, and Jill completed this book while loving on Kara's family and friends as they all grieved this loss.
If you've read Kara's first book "The Hardest Peace," then you'll have already absorbed pieces of her story. That book was also written during her fight with cancer, and out of her pain and sickness she gifted readers with words of life, a glimpse into her family and their Big Love. She captured, in a few short chapters, why it is so good and so hard to be human.
If you haven't read "Hardest Peace," then perhaps you grabbed this book because of the subtitle: the dance of walking through suffering together. Perhaps you're trying to navigate the rough waters of a terrible diagnosis in your family, and you need somebody who understands how you feel as you take care of somebody else.
Jill and Kara are good guides to turn to. The first portion of this book is intensely practical. They begin by explaining that when it comes to blessing somebody in a hard situation, Just Show Up is the most important principle. If you don't take the risk of going to them, nothing beautiful can happen between you.
They next suggest ways to show up and meet specific needs according to your abilities, at the right time and with no expectations.
Then they address the need for the "helper" to have their own support system, and the need to be honest about how bad you'll feel even as a supposedly "unaffected" helper. You'll probably feel guilty thinking like this, but the thoughts will come: "This is so hard for me! They're the one who's suffering, and I feel so bad! Who do I turn to?" Jill and Kara make it clear: when you have somebody you're giving comfort to, and you need somebody to dump on.
Together, Jill and Kara go to their vulnerable places in this book. Once they move past the more advice-based parts, they return to Kara's story, as seen by Jill and other friends who walked beside her. At the end, you know this truth unshakably: The God who is God-with-us made us to be with each other, and if you choose to be with someone in the hard, then you may never know how very much your choice means, because it does.
I thank David C Cook for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my thoughts.