Thursday, March 25, 2010
Who Are You to Someone Else?
God gives us all kinds of people in our lives to fulfill different needs. Some make us laugh uncontrollably, some make us think deeper than we necessarily would otherwise, some give us hope, others give us strength . . . and I could go on and on. The point is, everyone we know lends something important to our journey and is there for us at different times, depending on what our needs our. And the same is true on the flip side - we are exactly what someone else in our life needs at some point, for some reason.
So you're in a pit - a deep one - for whatever reason. It happens to us all. I work visually, so this is how it feels to me.
You are literally in a deep, narrow pit. All by yourself sitting there, and the sun seems so far up above you that it is only a speck - way up - where the entrance to this pit is. You've tried 10 different ways to climb out, but you just keep slipping back down. You can't seem to get a grip on the sides; it's slippery, or maybe so dry and rocky that it just crumbles when you try to dig in somewhere to go up.
You're tired of trying, so you slump back down and think, "Maybe tomorrow I can do it."
In the meantime, plenty of people stop by. You know all of them. There are those who have busy, chaotic lives of their own who genuinely care about you, but really can't help you. They do care enough to check in, make sure you are okay, and perhaps lend an encouraging word or two. It feels good to see them, to hear from them; but you're still down here and they are still up there, looking in.
There are those who recognize the pit you are in, but their decision is to yell at you from up there, outside the pit, to try and get you to come on out, already. This is their style, they think they are helping. But really, they don't get it and probably don't really want to. "Come on! You have to get out of there now. People depend on you. GET. UP. Get on your feet and CLIMB. Just do it!" They do not understand how hard you have been trying. They have not felt the walls of this pit - how impossible they are to navigate. They just see that you are not where you are supposed to be and you need to get out. Now. They almost always play the devil's advocate role. Sometimes this works. Other times it just makes you want to run from them.
There are those who stop by, it seems, just to make sure you are still there. They sort of wander by, look down at you in the pit, "Hey, just wanted to confirm you are still there! Take care!" and are gone again. Okay. They aren't meaning any harm, they are just not the people God intends to use to help you.
There are those who recognize the struggle you are having, really really want to be able to do something, but haven't a clue where to start. Their concern is genuine; and they will sit at the edge of the pit, dangle their feet over the side, and listen to every word you have to say. They will ask you over and over what they can do to help get you out of there. I like to think that God puts these people there to lend you an ear, make you feel loved - even if only for an hour or so- and, honestly, just to get the chance to feel a sense of "thank goodness I'm not her." No, I'm not joking. I truly think that we are sometimes put into someone else's life to give the other person some perspective.
Then there are these people. These very special people God has chosen this time to make a whopping difference. You know who they are.
It's the person whose voice you hear at the opening of the pit, waaaaay up there who rolls up his or her sleeves, grabs whatever they can for the journey and simply says, "I'm coming down there." They don't wait for your response, don't expect an answer. They don't know what they're getting into and have no idea how they, themselves, will get back out; but it doesn't matter to them. What matters is getting into it with you because if you are there, they want to be there, too.
It's the person who, in the face of your trying to hold back the tears, looks you dead in the eye and says, "I'm here. And I'm getting right in this with you." I'm. Coming. Down. There. They may have all these ideas of advice, of what they think you should be doing, visions of shaking you to bring you to reality. But what they do is simply get into the pit with you to be able to give you a boost from there. And sit and listen for as long as you need to until you are even ready to try once again to make the climb.
On the day we were leaving our home in Houston, Texas, I was in about the worst emotional shape I'd ever been in up to that point in my life. I had spent four years making the best friends of my life - friends who'd become my family in the absence of my actual family. On this last day, during these last hours, my very special friend across the street was gone for the day at an important class. We had said our tearful, ugly-cry goodbye the night before, knowing that Sean and I would be gone before she returned home the next day.
However, much like things often happen, we'd been delayed in leaving for several reasons - the very last one being the fact that, when we pulled up the rug we'd had in our foyer in front of the door - the two-sided tape we'd used to keep it in place was now on the tile like super glue. No big deal, right?
Well, in my crazy, emotionally-frazzled state, this tape had to come off. We couldn't leave it for the new owners to deal with. We tried everything to get this stuff off to no avail. We'd planned on getting on the road by a certain time and it was hours past that. The next thing I knew, here was my girlfriend, walking in the door, having seen our van still in the driveway, wondering what in the world we were still here for.
And when she saw what we were doing and why we were still there, she could have done a million different things. She could have been excited that we were still there and suggested that we go to lunch one more time before we left for good. She could have suggested that we go back to her house, forget this stupid tape, and spend time together before we took off. She could have told me how crazy I am, and pulled me up and tried to shake some sense into me - this TAPE DOESN'T MATTER. GO.
But no. She knew me, she knew how I was feeling, and she did what God had sent her to do.
Still in her nice clothes after spending the day in an intense class learning about how to teach dyslexic kids a certain type of way, she rolled up her sleeves, kicked off her shoes, got on her knees and started scraping away at this tape with me. Tears from both of our eyes coming down and laughing at how we were spending our last moments together, we scraped and scraped at that tile until all of that glue was gone.
I'm coming down there.
So right now, in my pit, my husband has been rolling up his sleeves and climbing into the pit with me. He lets me come undone without judgment, without telling me all that I'm feeling is foolish or wrong. He hugs me, lets me cry so hard that my eyes hurt, admits he has no idea how to fix it, but will do everything he can to make it not so hard on me, and loves loves loves me. And that's really all I need right now. No advice. No one to try and turn me around and make me feel that what I'm feeling is wrong or something that I shouldn't be feeling. Just let me feel it and then we'll go from there.
I hope God puts me in a position so I can be this for someone else at some point. Because it's awesome when you've got it when you need it.
photo by Caetano Lacerda