It was an unexpected moment.
She didn’t know this was the last time she would see them before the big move.
But suddenly they had to say goodbye. She smiled bravely.
But they came, those hot unwelcome tears.
They burned down her cheeks and dripped onto her blouse.
She blinked hard, but on they came, insistent on betraying her.
Not once have I heard her complain. The adjustment will be huge.
The move to a country she has never been to, people not her own,
a culture and food she’s not known.
“But God will carry me…” she’s assured me as we’ve talk about all the adjustments.
He will. But even when God carries us, it’s hard.
The pain snatches our breath away.
And it’s okay.
It’s necessary, in fact, for the scab to peel off,
for this wound to stand gaping, raw and unhealed in front of each other.
We are all real. Human. Needy.
And yes, we have Jesus to carry us,
and without Him not one of us could take another breath and face tomorrow.
But there is this quiet thing that whispers we must be strong.
Especially when others have seen us in our pain, bravely smiling through our tears.
“You are amazing!” they say, and this pressure grows.
Unknowingly we build these walls,
these impossible, impenetrable stone walls around our hearts.
We must never be weak or honest about how we can hardly make it,
or we will fail all these expectations. We won’t be who they think we are.
We will be a failure.
I felt it when we came back from the overseas,
silent wounds in my heart from what we had experienced…
But I felt this pressure to never breathe a word about it,
since the mission field is such a worthy place to serve.
The expectations on each of us are high, and we find ourself in this gasping place of inability.
Each one of us are here, in this private place of wounding.
I almost didn’t say it on Sunday, in a circle just a bit too big,
describing how my week had been.
Happy, bouncy, optimistic me, but I knew I needed to be honest.
There, I said it.
And later, one of them came to me,
“I wouldn’t have guessed YOU would have felt like that. I mean, you seem so happy…”
It’s terrifying to be peeled naked of these walls,
to be honest with each other, to be vulnerable.
But we need it, this thing of true friendship that reaches past our façades and false fronts,
and loves anyway, lavishly, unconditionally in the face of shocking truths and ugliness.
One friend faces living in another country,
surrounded by a culture and language unknown to her until a few years ago,
because of the man she loves.
Another friend faces life without her husband, widowed at the hand of a thoughtless robber,
leaving her a single mother at only 20.
Another is divorced, her former husband told her he was glad when she lost her babies,
shattering her heart, just like that.
Another friend is married happily, has the perfect home and family,
but past family wounds haunt her everyday, twisting her concept of love and life.
Another never thought she would find herself here – unmarried and pregnant.
And yet another waited 41 weeks to meet her much anticipated baby,
only to discover he was stillborn. Dashed dreams. Crushed hearts.
Life is this hard.
This thing of pain is delicate.
It is so easy to cling to those that have also been hurt,
and all nurse our wounds and feel sorry for ourselves.
It can become deadly, a transition from having a wound,
to becoming one.
These marks in our heart are a means to an end,
and if we get stuck, here in our hurt we only become more hurt.
It becomes a bottomless pit of pain and self-centeredness.
So how do we bring to the light these painful places, without becoming obsessed with them?
He gives us an invitation to a beautiful dance, of leaning hard on Him.
Stepping forward when He does, pausing when the music slows. Listening, watching, becoming.
Hands tremble, but reach tentatively.
Grasp them, welcome these beautiful people around you into a place of safety.
Let friendship become the sanctuary of Christ’s love to those around you.
Not to live a perpetual state of woundedness, but of honesty, of who we really are.
Use the words that we would never say.
Let’s be honest.
I mean, HONEST.
We all break. This dust that we are made of crumbles.
He hung naked.
He was wounded, and so are we.
And there, at His bloody, dripping feet we find healing.
In Him. Here we find Him to be our safest, most honest place.
In the same vulnerability, we free others to experience the beauty of healing.
Here, through our trembling words and hands never strong enough, others taste Jesus.