Thursday, July 12, 2012
for when you have nothing left to give
In my dream the other night, we were deliberating in a room on the second floor. Behind us was a window that showed the small group of people in the back yard outside. He had spontaneously decided to throw a small party. I think it was for our son, but all the guests were adults, so who knows. All I know is that we were the hosts and we were not out there with the guests – we were inside. Because I was feeling absolutely sapped. I felt completely drained mentally, physically, and emotionally. I had absolutely nothing left.
He and I continued to wrestle through finding a viable solution for tackling this dilemma. That troubleshooting dynamic one we’re well acquainted with, one that life has long woven into the fabric of our marriage. We were both clearly feeling the pressure of needing to be out there with our guests. And the guests were clearly awkward. I could see them looking around wondering where we were, exchanging scattered whispers about what to do.
Finally, I decided fine, I’ll go out. But unfortunately, he didn’t stay by my side to compensate for my lack of life. So I just stood there, stiff as stiff can be. I don’t even know who was around me. I was so sapped I couldn’t even look anyone in the eye.
My body had merely shown up.
After doing that for a matter of minutes, I decided it was pointless to be out there, and did an about face to return inside. After I did, the rest of the guests followed. Again, they were wanting to be sensitive to me, but didn’t know what that looked like. And so they were waiting for my cue, my initiation to engage and enter into my own social circle. In the meantime, they all opted to keep a comfortable distance.
As for me? I sat on a chair with my back completely to them. I sat there in desperate nothingness. Surrounded by friends yet completely alone. Until a close friend came over and sat down in front of me, her face toward mine. I hadn’t seen her in the crowd. It was as if she had come out of nowhere. Her disposition was as comfortable as always, unintimidated by my socially-offensive posture, as well as my nothingness. She hadn’t overanalyzed whether I needed space, or assurance, or what precise configuration of both.
She simply came.
Without her even saying a word, my body instinctively inhaled deep breaths simply with the relief of her presence. And I could feel those deep breaths initiating the early stages of physical restoration.
Her presence was offering my soul a calm that was giving my body strength.
~ ~ ~
There was so much reality to this dream: My feelings of isolation. My intense wrestling with feeling like I'm living life with my back turned to my friends because the demands of survival have left my margins so small I can barely discern them. And that nothingness. Oh, how I’ve been there.
But there’s something more powerful than the realistic picture of my life. In this dream, I also see a striking picture of the Lord in my friend’s response. Because unintimidated by all our offensiveness, He breaks through the uncertain crowd to come to us. He meets us in all our nothingness. He turns His face toward ours. And He comes simply to give:
To give encouragement for our burdened minds,
companionship for our lonely hearts,
and strength for our weary bodies.
And His presence draws our mind, body, and soul
to inhale renewing breaths of Life.
So the next time you find yourself feeling so weary that you don’t even have the strength to look life in the eye, know that God sees your need, and He is there. I know you don’t always see Him in the crowd – that large crowd of hurt and circumstance. But He’s there, my friend. And He WILL break through the pain to meet you where you are.
And by the way, if you ever find yourself wondering how to reach out to that friend in need, might I encourage you to not wait for them to initiate? When people are walking through a crisis in life, survival can become so all consuming that they oftentimes won’t have the strength or even time to express a need. And the enemy takes advantage of that – he wants to use your feelings of helplessness to keep you a safe distance from them.
Safe for your comfort zone and pride.
So pray for sensitivity, yes, but don’t over-analyze.
Be the one who comes.
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Image above courtesy of Tammy J. Linking up with Ann Voskamp's The Practice of Suffering Series