I love community. The chance to invest and grow alongside those around me, to watch our stories unfold, to be connected in a million little ways and celebrate the absolute joy of living. The strong picture it is of us not being alone, of something better and deeper than we can imagine.
And to this fragile heart, words cannot begin to touch on the ways community has been so essential recently.
The kindness shown in black swirled handwritten notes filling up my little campus box. The invitation to talk it out anytime. The reminder of spaces to escape to. The hugs and tears of empathy shed. The surrounding in circles of prayer. The steady stream of messages with lovely snapshots +funny videos + well timed quotes. The songs composing a playlist of hope sung into the darkness, accompanying every step taken. The reminders of truth + perspective. The cups of coffee and walks. The ways honesty and letting it all out has been encouraged and supported. The trips to favorite cities and places to breathe. The daily reminders of the phrase: you are loved.
If you’re looking for ways to love others and walk with them through the fear and mess, the above list encompasses so many wonderful ways to do so.
In a season of life that has been overwhelming, this means so very much to me. The incredible gift of watching God work and His love come out in the countless ways people have reached out has made me so grateful and been a bright part in a darker time.
When I recount all of these moments and experiences with community, there is a common thread in all of these. As a culture, as people being humans on planet earth, and as friends who care deeply for the pain of others, the first instinct is to try and fix. To focus on the positive, to help numb and alleviate the pain, to try and remove the weight of it all. I do this all of the time, trying to emphasize the good parts, quick to silver lining the pain. However, I have discovered with each passing day that what I desperately want to have and hope to offer others is simply presence.
The gift of being there in whatever form possible, of listening to the problems and thousands of thoughts violently racing across the brain, of sitting there in silence and just being physically present, of supporting as it overwhelms and I fall apart, of allowing me to crumble without trying to instantly make it better. This is beyond words. This means the world to me.
It has brought to mind these powerful quotes by one of my favorite authors, who spins words into golden gems:
“These are things I can’t change. Not one of them. Can’t fix, can’t heal, can’t put the broken pieces back together. But what I can do is offer myself, wholehearted and present, to walk with the people I love through the fear and the mess. That’s all any of us can do. That’s what we’re here for. Not the battle lines, keeping people in and out. Not the “pro” and “anti” stances, but the presence, the listening, the praying with and for on the days when it all falls apart, when life shatters in our hands.”
Shauna Niequist | Bread and Wine
“I believe deeply that God does his best work in our lives during times of great heartbreak and loss, and I believe that much of that rich work is done by the hands of people who love us, who dive into the wreckage with us and show us who God is, over and over and over.”
Shauna Niequist | Bittersweet
Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone in pain is to be there without words. That was said in a recent student chapel message on campus and has followed me around. To stop trying to draw silver linings around the clouds, but to remind that there is hope worth finding, and that you will be there in the meantime.
With all of these thoughts, the following passage has been on my mind ||
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 may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
2 Corinthians 1.3-7
Grateful for His comfort and the way it’s been expressed through others. Grateful for how others have shared comfort from their own unique experiences. May I learn to pour into others this same way through this season.
So friends, keep loving, keep offering hope, keep being present. Because it is a gift beyond description and means more than you know.