For me, it happens during one of life’s largest privileges. During the painful privilege of a friend opening the most painful event of their life to you, with tears in their eyes, what do you do?
Privilege? Why do I say it is a privilege? Let me try to explain.
We human beings are pretty good actors when we walk out our front doors. We meet neighbors and strangers and barely grunt, “Hi, how’s it going?” We want no answer and they know not to even hesitate to offer one. Our lives can be in the toilet and we’ll answer with, “Good, how are you?”
But when someone comes, with sadness in their eyes and the corners of their mouths turned down, you can sense something in the air. It’s heavy somehow, almost like a very humid day. You stop, even turn off the TV or take out the earbuds, and look for a place to sit.
Life’s largest privilege, in my opinion, occurs when all the fake falls away, the pretending stops and we connect with another human being and share ourselves. It’s love and trust in it’s most raw form. I just wish I knew what to do, what to say when those times come.
Last night Robin and I sat in our living room, the house a mess, the puppy jumping up with excitement for visitors, and were privileged to share life’s most painful moment with our new neighbors. With tears filling her eyes, a sweet young mom told us her father died suddenly and unexpectedly that morning. She asked us to pray for her and her family.
We tried offering some words of comfort. We stumbled awkwardly, like we all do, knowing that words offered by us are powerless to change much of anything. The healing was in her words and in the safety and trust of being able to speak them with others.
If it had been a year from now, if we hadn’t just recently met her we wouldn’t have even tried offering words. Robin and I would have immediately just hugged her and shared the language of the heart with tears streaming down our cheeks.
There’s an old song that says, “tears are a language that God understands.” I know it’s true. We’ve cried so many tears over the past year – pain, sadness, joy. Tears. And as we’ve cried, we’ve grown closer to God. Tears are the language of relationship, not religion.
When the evening came to a close we gave tight hugs and I asked, “Hey, can we pray for you right now?” Then we just talked to God – no big words, no fancy prayer. My prayer wouldn’t have won any awards or impressed any congregations. It was just real.
And then, our new friend left. Robin and I returned our normal living room seats sad but somehow a little thankful too. It was a privilege to be here for them. We are so thankful they knew they were safe to be real.
“God, thanks for moving us to this neighborhood.”“A loved one is a treasure of the heart and to lose a loved one is like losing a piece of yourself. But the love that this person brought you…did not leave, for the essence of the soul lingers. It cannot escape your heart, for it has been there forever.” Debbie Burton-Peddle “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 -Jesus Christ