Yesterday was tough. I spent time with two dear friends, back to back, both struggling in very different ways. My heart hurts so much for them. Their pain encircles my own, and I ache for where they are, where they’ve been, and what remains to go through. Their journeys are long and hard, brand-new and jagged, and how I’d take it all away if I could. Fix it, throw it, burn it, stomp it and level it out. Give room for a peace they can’t yet feel and a purpose they’re barely beginning to see.
We’re programmed a little like that these days, aren’t we? We want the quick fix, the easy answer, the simplified process and the ready-made results. And why not? Pain is a horrible manifestation of the hurt in our hearts. Why wouldn’t we want to stitch and patch that up as quickly as we could?
But we each take our own steps to get to where we’re going, and it simply takes the time it takes. Their struggles are not my own, and I have no quick and easy fix. But I will willingly walk with them through it, humbled by their bravery and inspired by their courage, just as I was yesterday in their sharing of it.
For that’s the hardest part, isn’t it? Taking that first step and trusting another with our heart… It’s a most frightful thought. But whether we do it in small words or big, many or few, work our way around or cut straight to the chase, the act of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable comes with the belief – the hope – that within the release of it is also the capture, and our hearts will not be left undone.
For no matter what our journeys look like, how long or windy or steep the road is, we journey through it better together than apart. God designed us to share each other’s burdens, and I was humbled that these two friends chose to share their own with me.
My respect for each of them easily quadrupled yesterday. Within the knowledge of what they face, my friendship can be more determined, my prayers more focused, and my help more tangible. But yesterday showed me something else as well. Within the courage it took to share their struggles, I saw the built up barriers and boundaries surrounding my own.
They stepped into a vulnerability I struggle with, even as I know it’s the only way we step into deeper relationship. And relationship is what we’re designed for. The gift we give each other within that is the ability to portion the heavy weights we bear and traverse the rockiest paths with lighter steps. The kind that come when hands reach out to one another, and hearts connect. It doesn’t diminish the pain, but it divides the weight and shares the burden, lightening our loads and easing the ache in our hearts.
I believe this with my whole heart. I see it and experience it; I know it, and yet I don’t practice it.
Coming alongside another is easy for me. My heart yearns to help ease their pain in whatever ways I can. But allowing another to come alongside me? Now that’s a different story and one I’m not proud to tell.
I’m such a hypocrite in this. Relationship is what I yearn for, but how do we grow in relationship if we don’t open our hearts to each other? How do I grow in relationship if I don’t open my heart, my hurts, my struggles AND my joys to others?
But sharing that… sharing where I am, what it’s like, how it hurts, and how I’m processing it… that’s where I get stuck. That’s where the faith-filled vulnerability of my friends lays itself so profoundly on my heart, in deep admiration of their courage and strength.
This blog space was to be that sharing place, and yet it sits so listless and wanting of words. Not for lack of being written, but it’s the stepping into the starting that gets me every time. Because it isn’t simply sharing a story; it’s sharing my story. And that story comes hard and heavy sometimes. I struggle with burdening others, even as I consider whether that’s my sideline excuse, and fear of vulnerability is the truer truth.
I’m so blessed by others sharing their burdens. It makes us more human and more approachable, more open to others’ care, and more able to care for others. It’s what my heart yearns for, because the truth is, I don’t know how to do this on my own. I’ve become much too good at stuffing it down, even as I know the very act of sharing the words diffuses the pain, and vulnerability is the foundation to the relationship I crave.
How do we know how to help if we don’t know each other’s struggles? How do we learn to trust and be trustworthy, without taking a step toward each other in vulnerability?
My friends gave me their trust yesterday. More than that, they showed me their courage. And that’s where I need to step into the starting…