Have you ever resisted trying something that someone recommended to you? Perhaps a dear friend suggests you talk to a counselor. Or maybe your spouse recommends you see a doctor. Or your sister wants you to attend a class on grief. What if someone you love and trust suggests something and adds…. I think it would be “good for you.”
Aren’t those salty words unsettling? NOW you’re really suspicious. The defensive questions race in your head. Why would it be good for me? What’s wrong with me that I need that? Is my problem/frailty that obvious, that debilitating?
I Finally Did It
I did that thing that someone I love and trust thought would be good for me and agreed to attend a care-giver retreat. Not just any retreat… but one offered on zoom for caretakers of people with traumatic brain injuries. Yes… I thought all the same things you’re thinking. But, because I love and trust my friend, I plopped down the registration fee and did my best to not just attend but be “fully present” from my computer screen.
With suspicions swirling, the gentle meditation to open the retreat only served to intensify my discomfort. Soft spoken unfamiliar language truly puzzled me, not sure I even understood what was being said. Phrases like… identify your oppression; be aware of the permissions you need; what can your heart contribute. Like a floundering fish out of water, it took fortitude to keep my camera on and stay engaged.
But then we divided into breakout sessions to share within a smaller group. Assigned to 5 other moms, each with her own tragic story, I felt myself relax. A sense of belonging completely displaced any previous uneasiness. These strained desperate faces were no different than mine.
Now I Know Why
As each mom shared, I felt my heart expand. With fresh clarity, I knew why “this would be good for me.” Through an impersonal computer screen, in the safety of our shared tragedies, each of us was completely understood, seen and loved as no one else could possibly have provided — not a TBI professional, not a spouse, not a close friend, not even a sister. (Not to say those supports aren’t extremely important, but they are different) Without much history, or context we instantly got each other. It was as if each of us stepped into our calling with no special training or effort.
There was no pressure to help the listener. No effort to clean up and package a messy story. In fact, to listen with an intense compassion seemed quite natural. And filling in the inevitable gaps happened with ease. In a matter of minutes, our hearts were bonded.
Your heart will kick in, my friend had assured me. She was right… these moms that I just met online, dominated my thoughts. My heart had kicked in. Lifting each one in prayer, I was overcome with empathy for these precious souls. and I cried myself to sleep.
Confused and Surprised
Even though only two hours per week on zoom, how it has preoccupied my mind has both confused and surprised me. Why is it that meeting other moms of brain injured young adults has had such an impact?
I’ve had wonderful support. (Many of you!) Has God somehow been insufficient? Surely the Holy Spirit has sustained me. Surely, He has been my constant helper, comfort and guide.
What if His plan for complete healing cannot be accomplished alone? Could it be possible that His sufficiency is accomplished through other people? What if community and connectedness is God’s intentional design?
Well of course! It’s not God and me against the world. It’s God in me within the world.
In just one session, a penetrating light has exposed my own fragile house of cards. Even though I’ve been getting through my reoriented life adequately, landmines exist. When I take one tiny selfish peak beyond the horizon, for example, things wobble. But this new connection with specially qualified strangers, provides a safe environment for its structure to be tested. Perhaps it’s the compassionate empathy of other moms who get it, that will provide some needed scaffolding.
Now I understand the depth and power of what it means to carry each other’s burdens as we’re commanded to do in Galatians.
Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
The way I see it, it’s all about our scars. My scars, my greatest point of pain, is also my greatest access point to another hurting soul. Through my suffering, I become uniquely qualified to carry another’s burden. And when I do, redemption happens.
Do you get it? For your own good, don’t be selfish with your junk. What is that thing in your life that causes you the most pain? What causes your house of cards to tremble? Is it abuse, addiction, cancer, death of a child, death of a spouse, a disability, a disease, divorce, suicide, estrangement, betrayal, injustice, a prodigal, a dark secret? Whatever it is, it becomes your golden ticket towards real healing, towards redemption.
When you lean into that dark place with God in an effort to carry another’s burden, in this way you fulfill the law of Christ. As you trust Him and lead with your fragility, His grace reinforces your house of cards, one joist at a time. He transforms your ashes into beauty. Only God could have designed it to work that way. We NEED each other to redeem our suffering.
Whose burden can you carry today?
For His Glory, Debbie Hucke