But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
(Luke 5:30-31, NIV)
Friend to Friend
But before I could head to the back yard, a glance out my front window changed my mood in a moment: A yellow moving van sat across the street. I knew what it meant, although my heart didn’t want to believe it was true.
“They’re getting divorced,” my children had told me the day before. I ignored them, knowing how often they pick up neighborhood gossip from the various other children, only a small fraction of which ever proves true. But the moving van changed things. And no amount of sunshine could warm the sudden chill of heartbreak I felt at the confirmation.
In hindsight, I could see the signs. The obvious tensions, the muffled sounds of arguments filtering out into the street. The faces that reflected disappointment, disillusion. Grief.
I certainly understood what it felt like to be navigating a complicated family, one that didn’t look like I once dreamed it would. Our home hasn’t always been a haven. We have a house full of wounded people, children and grownups that have endured abuses and losses that will require a lifetime to heal. That means, whether we mean to or not, sometimes we hurt each other.
As I gazed out my window, my sadness felt like a weight on my chest. Then it turned into something more personal. An inkling of responsibility and culpability.
Why didn’t I do something? If I’d seen hints of a marriage and family in jeopardy, why didn’t I offer some word of encouragement or practical support? Why didn’t I walk over sooner, open my front door faster? It could’ve been as simple as an invitation to dinner or a conversation on the front lawn.
Instead, I’d been so busy navigating my own life that I missed the opportunity to enter into someone else’s. Now? It was too late.
I don’t think we realize how many opportunities we miss. Perhaps a neighborly dinner in the backyard wouldn’t have saved this family in crisis. Maybe a handshake or warm hug or “Is everything okay? How can I help?” Wouldn’t have changed the ultimate outcome of this family’s story.
Perhaps. But, then again, sometimes all we need is to know we are not alone, that someone sees us and loves us, exactly as we are. Sometimes our greatest strength is borrowed strength, the kind that comes from linking arms with another human and knowing we don’t have to do the hard things alone.
This is what Jesus accomplished by becoming one of us, leaving the perfection of heaven to put on human flesh. He could’ve remained at a distance, busy with the work of heaven. Instead, He chose to cross the street, enter into the mess of our homes and lives, inviting us to sit at His table, exactly as we are.
He didn’t see our brokenness as a reason to pull away. He saw it as an opportunity to enter in. To move closer. And let us know we’re not alone.
And that alone is reason enough to do the same, to cross whatever distance stands between us and a moving van to let the person on the other side know they don’t have to do this hard thing alone.
Dear Lord, I can easily become so consumed with my own life, my own pain, that I fail to see the pain of the person right in front of me. Forgive me, Father. Expand my capacity for compassion and love. Open my eyes to see the people around me, men and women and children for whom You gave all of Yourself. Give me courage and wisdom to cross the distance of my calendar or discomfort to love like You do.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Think of one person who needs to know they aren’t alone today. What is one thing you can do to offer them the comfort of your presence? You may not be able to do anything to change their circumstances. But you can let them know they are loved and not alone.
More from the Girlfriends
A storyteller at heart, Michele Cushatt writes and speaks on the necessity of perseverance, relationship, and faith in the hard places. A three-time tongue cancer survivor and mama to children “from hard places,” Michele is a (reluctant) expert of pain, trauma and our deep human need for real connection. She lives in Colorado with her husband and their six children, ages 12 to 27. If you’ve ever questioned God’s presence in the middle of your pain, pre-order Michele’s newest book RELENTLESS: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves today, releasing November 12, 2019, and receive $150 of bonuses for FREE. Find more information at www.Relentless-Book.com. He is with us.