I loved my family. I deeply cherished my husband and those close to me. If they hurt, I hurt. If they cried, I cried.
But when someone outside my immediate circle was met with a tragedy, I was disconnected. I saw they were hurting and prayed for them, but I was completely separated from my emotions concerning their plight. I just didn’t care enough. I was not the girl who would greet you and ask you how you were feeling since _____ happened. In fact, I probably forgot that you were even facing whatever “that” was. I was not the girl who loved others deeply.
But I knew women who were.
They were incredible at letting their heart live outside their body, walking among their friends and church family. They were ready to receive others’ hurts and feel it alongside them. I admired their thoughtfulness and envied their nurturing spirit. I, on the other hand, was more likely to comfort you with a pat on the back, paired with a “Sorry, dude.”
I was emotionally pathetic.
I wanted to feel for others like the women I knew. I wished my heart to break when I prayed for their struggles, but it just didn’t! I asked God to help me work through this “un-feeling” hurdle in my life. Ironically, I began to shed tears during my prayer time, asking God to give me tears for others. I felt like a spiritual cripple that was self-focused and hard, uncaring and insensitive. Nothing says “servant of Christ” like a half-hearted “sorry for your loss” while I quickly shuffled by to avoid the awkward emotional exchange that was sure to follow.
Then my mom died.
Those same women who I admired from afar began to surround me with a love I had never experienced. My tears were their tears; my pain, their pain. I had warm meals left on my doorstep. My phone was a constant buzz of texts from women checking in on me- how I was feeling, if I needed anything, if they could watch my son so I could go grab a coffee and just think. These women became my own personal army, fighting alongside me against the forces of depression, loneliness and faithlessness.
They held my son,
held my hand,
held my heart.
By watching their example and the love they so graciously poured into my life, I became a different person. When someone was facing a tough time, I started to respond more like these women- with a hug (not as awkward now) and prayers. Not surface “churchy” prayers, but the kind that remind God there are still people who believe that prayer radically changes lives. Did you lose your job? Let me watch your kids while you go on interviews. Did your car break down? Take mine for as long as you need. Your mom passed away? Let the flood gates open, girl, because your pain is my pain, your tears are my tears…
…and forewarning, there will be buckets of tears.
My faith became about how we could live out our faith together in the mess and disease and come out the other side better for it. It wasn’t ME and God, it was US and God.
Love in community.
Community in the healing.
God transformed my unfeeling heart into an emotionally-connected one. I am so thankful that God has taught me how to truly “love my neighbor,” arm in arm, fighting together for the joy God has promised us.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
When did the love of another transform YOUR life?