Yesterday, I had a three-minute conversation with a friend in which she wound up in tears. It was just an average conversation, on an average Tuesday, until I looked her in the face and said something that was probably a little heavy for the office.
It’s scary to step around a person who says they are “just fine,” to reach for the other one struggling beneath the surface.
But it’s important because Jesus did all the time. He did it for blind men, prostitutes, lepers, deaf mutes, kids, outcasts and soldiers. He said to them, “I see you in there, I see where it hurts, be brave and bring it to me.”
People, we need less noise and more love. To look into, rather than just at, each other, which is sometimes a messy and expensive proposition. Jesus said, you will know my followers by their love for one another – not their politics, their words, their church or their jewelry. Just their love. That’s it.
I’m telling you this, because I’ve been drowning for the past few weeks, while telling people it’s fine. It’s not fine. When my fall trip to the ship got postponed until spring, I sank. Traveling with Mercy Shippers, encouraging them to grab hands with Jesus and run wherever he leads, is something I was born to do.
However, a few wise folk have suggested that by this delay, God has cleared my decks, so I can refocus on the other thing I was born to do – to write. What a privilege to have two equally interesting but demanding passions. Certainly, getting here was a process and that’s the subject of the book.
So while I chastise myself for drowning, Jesus doesn’t see it that way. He looks right past my “Just Fine,” reaches for me and says, “I see you in there, I see where it hurts, be brave and bring it to me.”
He does it for us, then we do it for each other, and that’s how this job gets done.
Recently, one of my favorite writers Shauna Niequist announced she’d begun writing her next book. I love Shauna and her kitchen table because as her lively tribe gathers round, it’s apparent how sterile a life of independence can be; how tragedy, apology and pain are necessary to the whole plot. In time, everybody’s lives get tangled together like grapevines, heavy with fruit and flowers. Then Shauna writes about it.
Does this sound familiar? That’s Love Dinner and why it’s back – this Saturday. We need each other more than we care to admit, and sometimes we just need to collapse at each others’ tables and quit drowning for a minute, letting people who love us, pull us out of the water.
I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to figure out the pattern here, but I finally see it. For the last year, I’ve allowed writing books and going to Africa to be mutually exclusive activities, but they’re not. No matter where I am – on a ship, in a garden, at the table with friends – my life is in the people, and the object is always the same:
Point them to who they are in Jesus, watch what happens and write it down.
That, to me, is a story worth reading.