One of my greatest pleasures as a writer is to hear that something I have written resonates with another person. It’s as if two souls connect for a moment. Recently, a high school friend wrote to tell me she could relate to one of my blog posts. While her experience was different, she could certainly identify with the feelings.
I wrote her back and asked her to clarify something she had said. When she responded, she shared a story that was deeply painful. I sat in bed, reading her story, and I cried. In fact, I cried myself to sleep that night. I could see how she had related to my blog about tears and the honesty of questioning God in difficult circumstances. She has lived through plenty of difficult circumstances.
My friend gave me an incredible gift in sharing her story. By opening her heart, I got a glimpse into the bigger picture of life here on earth. Not just my life, but the lives of those who I pass or come into contact with each day. I was reminded of the immense pain that lives inside so many people who rarely show it but are dying inside. Something magical happens when we have the courage to share our wounds and express our pain. We connect, and we are given the chance to help carry someone else’s load. We can offer hope. Reach out for a hand to hold. Be a light in the darkness.
Even though my friend questions why certain events had to happen the way they did, she is not a prisoner to the sadness or anger surrounding the events. She has accepted them in a way that brings her peace, knowing that she may never fully understand but trusting that there IS a reason. I dare not speculate on what those reasons may be, but I agree that God has a reason for everything. I believe he wastes nothing. One of my favorite Bible verses points to this theme: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20) The context of this verse is taken from the story of Joseph. You may know it: Joseph’s brothers had intended to do him harm (read: get rid of him) but instead Joseph finds himself, years later, favored in the eyes of Pharoah and subsequently ruler over Egypt. He secured a place of power and wealth, and because of this position he was able help his family in a time of great need. God brought something good out of a painful situation.
But it didn’t happen overnight. So often though we try to squeeze the good out of a situation too quickly. Or worse, we try to get to the healing place all alone. We put on a happy face and recite our religious platitudes. In the end, I believe our pride, the part of us that wants to keep things to ourselves, ends up getting us into even deeper pain. As Henri Nouwen says in The Wounded Healer, “We live in a society in which loneliness has become one of the most painful wounds.” I’m not pretending that I can fully take away someone’s loneliness, for that has a purpose of its own as well. As Nouwen explains, our loneliness is like the Grand Canyon, “a deep incision in the surface of our existence which has become an inexhaustible source of beauty and self-understanding.” Only God can enter into that kind of deep loneliness. Yet in sharing our stories and allowing ourselves to open up to someone else, we can at least stand in awe as we gaze upon the depth and width of the Grand Canyon of our hearts.
So, thank you, my friend, for being brave and allowing me to stand by your side, even for a moment. Thank you for sharing your story and allowing me to feel connected to another soul. Community, in whatever form it takes, is one of God’s greatest gifts. Even though years have passed since we last saw one another, I know that God has used you in my life. I am reminded that even though there are many tired travelers on this journey, he crosses the paths of those who need each other just at the right time. I am grateful for the way he weaves his people together to help heal and restore us all.