I got her text a few days after the voting that devastated me. A vote that split our church family wide open. We voted differently. She asked me to lunch.
She and I, we’ve sat among peers in the same prayer circle for three years now, peeking inside our hearts when the Word tore open our ugly, offering consolation and the spoon of friendship stirring up faith. But we didn’t talk about the church vote.
No one asked me how it felt to have your church turn their back on what you’ve poured your heart into for twelve years. The church planting movement my husband helps to lead, the one I’d written hundreds of stories about, uprooted my family to move across the country for.
I said no to lunch. I couldn’t sweep all that pain under the rug and smile over salad. I’ve never been good at pretending. I’m the girl whose mother knew I hadn’t eaten well in college by the tone of my voice over the phone.
A few days later, sitting in my van trembling after midnight, thinking about who I could call for help to navigate the wreck my daughter had with a semi, I scrolled through all those church people in my mind. The families I wrote down on those forms for my children, you know, the people the school should call in case you aren’t available in an emergency.
I hadn’t talked to those people in months.
But I received her text.
So I called her.
She didn’t answer.
It was 1:30 in the morning.
I was relieved I didn’t wake her up.
She called me back, after two hours of sleep in my clothes. Said she saw my update on Facebook and my missed call on her phone and she was in a puddle, and so relieved to know Murielle was okay. And all that church stuff, it felt like chaff in the wind blowing tumbleweed down the street of my soul.
Sometimes perspective plummets like an elevator shaft unhooked from what you’ve always taken for granted.
She came to my door with foil covered containers filled with food, the salt from our tears and the presence of the holy. We sat on my couch shouldering hope under the cacophony of teens consoling my daughter, talking about everything and nothing. And I learned what it means to bare one another’s burdens.
I named the ache of my pain, opened the gift of receiving and I’m looking forward to going to lunch soon.
In her book, Enuma Okoro says, “A believing community shoulders hope when circumstances seem hopeless. A believing community speaks boldly into despair and longing and suggests that things do not have to remain as they are in the presence of a holy, imaginative God.”
As we enter the season of Advent may we each find a sojourner to share the longings of our soul, one to receive the whispers of our pain in the wait. Not friends for fixing but for shouldering hope and shifting the weight.
Many of you come here with burdens like mountains you can’t see your way through and I just wanted you to know what a privilege it is to intercede on your behalf. Let’s bare one another’s burdens, shall we?