4 weeks ago
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Time and attention is something I can give
Seems I'm not the only one, not very surprising to me or any of you, I'm sure. The more I become transparently real in a 'Velveteen Rabbit' kind of way, the more I come into contact with others who share similar stories with me.
• Topic… emotional struggle.
• Biggest challenge… feeling alone, feeling rejected.
• Biggest need… understanding within a loving community.
And at times these interchanges are helpful for me and the people I meet, at other times overwhelming as we go beneath the superficial. It's heavy stuff.
Again, yesterday, a connection with someone who is burdened by deep emotional pain, struggling to keep it together enough to take care of loved ones, and here I am wondering, "But what can I do"? It always becomes personal for me, and that's the biggest challenge. Because I know I can't be or do it all, for everyone. And it appears that the world, and in particular my world right now, is full of walking wounded.
I see them, these beautiful hurting people, through several sets of eyes. First, I see them through the eyes of my personal understanding and empathy because of similar experiences. Second, I see them through the eyes of recognition that an empathetic interchange is not enough… that relationship is required, and I know I have to take action. Third, I see them through my own wounded, foggy perspective that most always sees what I want to see, and the fixer, encourager, righteously indignant rescuer in me kicks in. Fourth, I see them through the eyes of Jesus, who reminds me that I cannot turn away except at great cost.
And I'm trying hard to not turn away.
So I'm beginning to think that knowing what "to do" isn't really necessary. I'm thinking that it is more about learning to pay attention to my fellow travellers, and spend time listening. I can give that… my time and attention.
Perhaps many of these burdens and problems have no solutions anyway, and who am I to think I can fix anyone (God complex?). But, I can be there. I can make myself available. I can do little things like make a phone-call or an extra batch of spaghetti sauce. I can look into their eyes and linger in conversation rather than running away. It's messy stuff… complicated, painful, dark, messy stuff. I'm trying hard to not be afraid to go there with these fragile creatures.
Because that's what I desire too, this fragile walking wounded creature called Lesley-Anne Evans, simply wants to know she is not alone in this world. I want to know that I have a listening ear or a broad shoulder whenever life just gets too much to bear. Being a Christian doesn't mean I don't struggle… it's just not a band-aid for all the mess, no matter what some people might say. God knows that about me, and many times he has sent skin-on 'angels' to help me when I'm at the end of my rope.
Like the time many years ago, when I was at home with three little kids, and trying desperately to make canned peaches, crying in the kitchen of our little house because I just couldn't figure out how to do the mothering and the canning at the same time. And then the back gate creaked open, and my neighbour May popped in and rolled up her sleeves and stayed until we had finished the job. I believe God sent May over that day, and has sent many more 'angels' to me over the years.
We are not alone. The living, breathing, hurting human beings that we pass every day on the street, in the mall, at the school, in the church lobby… they all matter to God. They should also matter to us. That's not easy for me to say any more than it is for you to hear. I'm a bit of a recluse, low on the need for social interaction. I like my own company best. But I'm learning to push myself outside of this comfortable place… bit by bit. I just can't love my neighbour any other way.
Time and attention…
I believe we are all worth that investment.
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