We had a friend stay with us for a few days. She has had a really difficult year, and has been trying to figure out how to put her life together in a way she can live with. Her husband was going to be gone for a few days, and it’s not great for her to stay alone. Besides the fact that I love her and am always delighted to spend time with her, it was wonderful to be able to be a bit of a support for someone else.
At the end of one of the days, she asked me, “Is your life always this intense?”
It gave me pause, because it had been a fairly ordinary day for me.
I had done a few practical things at the coffee house that needed to be taken care of. I had had a few short-but-deep conversations at that time with people whose lives we have been connected with.
I had met with another friend, a young woman who recently came back from a Discipleship Training School. It was a transformative experience for her. It was particularly important because her family situation (and therefore some of her roles and identity) has changed in the last few years. She has had some incredible life experiences, and made some major life decisions, and although the internet has enabled us to keep connected as she processes these things, this was our first in-person conversation in a long time. This is someone I have watched grow up – have listened to, prayed for, and advised (whether for good or bad, that’s another issue) – so intense would be a good descriptor of that conversation.
Then, later that evening, we had a skype meeting with a friend overseas. Last we had talked with him, he had been facing some difficult things that happened when he was a child. He had been wanting to talk to his parents about it – but nervous about how that conversation might go. He shared with us about how that conversation went, and how it opened up a whole list of things his family had never discussed. (Painful conversations, but hopeful and possibly leading to healing.) We felt honoured to listen, encourage, and pray for our friend.
Sprinkled throughout the day was a variety of conversations with the friend herself about various aspects of our lives, none of which were shallow.
(Those are just the parts I remember.)
No big deal, just an ordinary day.
I sometimes beat myself up a bit at how long it is taking us to recover and get back to our work. But every once in a while I have a reminder that we have the awesome privilege of being engaged with people’s hearts. If we’re not OK on a deep heart-level, we won’t be able to do that work; we won’t be trustworthy with places of hope and brokenness. I have an awareness of how awesome our work is. I have an awareness of how easy it can be to hurt people when they open up to us in vulnerability – and I think it is worth it to take the time so that we can be people who are safe, people who are trustworthy, people of encouragement, and people who bring life.