We Are A Continent

I've been thinking about someone I had let slip through the cracks a long time ago. She was suffering, her life was falling apart. She was making ridiculous decisions and living in a very broken way. It's not that I didn't care. It's not that I thought she wasn't worth loving. Mostly I was already a mess all by myself. I don't know what I would have even done for her. We were just two hot messes living our hot mess lives.

But I think about her now and wonder if part of me was shrinking from her crazy. Maybe a sliver of my heart just didn't know what to do with her sad choices and erratic behavior. Maybe I was running from her a little bit. I can hold to the understanding that I am the kind of person who usually ends up super-glued to one crazy or another. I get all wrapped up and rooted into other people's lives in a way that is commonly referred to as co-dependence. So, with that in mind, thank God I had some distance.

Maybe someday, when there is more Jesus and messy grace directing me than unhealthy patterns and co-dependency, I will be the kind of woman who can love the crazy without getting cemented into the mess. Maybe I will learn to root into Jesus before I root into anyone else. And then, maybe, I will be the kind of woman who can see a broken hot mess and love her without expectation, fear or judgement.

When I was in her shoes, grieving with every breath, there were people who loved me deeply. I was bolstered, supported and listened to. I was held to truth and I was left alone when I needed to be. Although there were plenty of people who tried to control my decisions so as to cover up their own brokenness, there were (and are) so many people who stood by me.

May I be that kind of woman. The next time a heart zombie comes stumbling across my path, I hope I am  the kind of woman who draws nourishment from Jesus. I hope I love from a healthy heart; a heart that allows for mistakes and failures. I hope I make room for shaking hands and trembling lips. I hope I create space for my fellow female to sit back on a wide porch, cigarette in hand. With her great puffs of smoke and conversation, I hope I leave room for safe silence. I hope I remember that Jesus is already in her darkest place. He won't need my words or my understanding. He'll just need me to hold her hand, listen to her heave with grief, and maybe whisper, "I know... I know."

There comes a time in life when we all need this kind of woman. We just won't live our lives without some kind of great sorrow. And we won't make it through that sorrow without someone standing between us and the people who are afraid of our suffering. If we can't love each other through the bleakness and despair of a broken heart, then we can't expect anyone to be waiting for us when our own circumstances expect to crush us.

Last year I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. This quote by  Martin Niemöller was hanging on the wall as we left:

"First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Catholic.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me."

It makes me think that we just can't practice kindness towards each other until we start remembering that we belong to each other. If we let each other fall through the cracks, we're forgetting that we are not our own. Our lives intersect. We all belong to humanity. Humanity belongs to us. If Jesus came for all of us, with all of our different backgrounds, family lives, talents, weaknesses, personalities, dreams and wounds, then we need to remember that we can't live like little islands. We are all, every single one of us, a continent. If sorrow comes for one, it comes for all.

Let's protect, love and enter in with each other. There is no need for co-dependency. There is no need for fear. Let's root ourselves into Jesus, who perfected the art of human aid.

That's it, friends. It's so simple, yet so difficult. One tiny step, and then another.

Together.

*March 2013