In studying psychology, I’ve been learning about people for a while now. People never cease to fascinate me. Everyone’s personalities, expressions, routines, and thoughts are all so different. Everyone wants to be loved in a different way, needs to be affirmed in a different way, needs to be challenged in a different way. The way that our Creator has fashioned us is nothing short of elaborate, complex, and beautiful.
And in studying psychology, I’ve learned a lot about how to interact with people. I sat in a counseling class where we practiced interacting with one another as a counselor would. This felt awkward and weird, but it has been so foundational for me.
So I downloaded Audible, which you should totally get. It’s this app made by Amazon where you can purchase recordings of books that have the actual author reading them. If you’re someone who finds yourself on the highway a lot, like me, it’s a great find.
I’ve had Bob Goff’s Love Does on my bookshelf and feel terrible to say that I just have not had time to read it. So despite the fact that I had already bought it, I decided to buy it again via Audible and I very quickly found myself wrapped up in this story.
Bob was a high schooler who was ready to get out of town. He didn’t really love school and dreamed of going to Yosemite, working at a small café and seeking new adventures. There was a guy that had been at his high school a good bit who was a part of YoungLife, named Randy. He thought Randy was cool because he had a beard and a motor cycle so they became friends. When Bob decided to spontaneously go to Yosemite, he went to tell Randy goodbye. He said that Randy listened to him and said, “Hold on one second, Bob” and ran back inside. A few minutes later, Randy came out with a book bag and sleeping bag and said, “Hey, I’m coming with you. Can I catch a ride?”
So Randy went.
I was waiting for the moment in the car when Randy tried to talk Bob out of this. I was waiting for Bob to share that only after about 20 minutes they turned around and came back. But that is not how this story went.
Randy stayed with Bob for days. As Bob was turned down for job after job, Randy just affirmed him that those places didn’t know what they were missing. When Bob reached his wit’s end, they headed back home.
I found myself speechless as I heard this story and so challenged.
Recently, a friend and mentor who has been through way too much grief in the past year shared to a group of bloggers I am a part of, that it is so important for us to “Go with” people, not to just “stamp truth” on something they are wrestling with, but to go with them into their pain, fear, grief, etc. and love them there.
And I think that we as a culture are afraid of imperfection. We only know how to be strong and okay and are afraid of those emotions of our own, better yet someone else’s. But, how much can we serve by going with our friends, neighbors, coworkers, community, etc. into their pain, fear, grief, guilt, sorry, regret, by telling them those feelings are okay. What if as the Body of Christ were not afraid of these feelings or of moments of imperfections? What if we could walk with people into the darkness so that they can eventually see authentic light?
I think we can all attest to a time when someone tried to tell us something they felt was truth we needed to hear, but in our spirits it was the very last thing we wanted in that moment.
In fact, I had a whole blog written on how to not love people in that way, but I think it is so much more important to talk about how TO love people in this way.
And I think that there is truth to be spoken, but that truth is planted on the most cultivated soil once you have entered their struggle with them, not when it is first being shared. For even in the process of planting a seed, you have to first till the soil.
This morning, in my Sunday school class we were discussing a passage in 2nd Samuel, when David wants to build the Lord a house. What God tells David is that He chose to live in a tent on purpose. He didn’t want to be removed from His people and separated from the difficulty of their journey. He wanted to be in the trenches of their fight against the Philistines. God even wants to go with us.
May we not fear grief, pain, hurt, sorrow, or regret. May we press into the victory that is already ours on the other side of those feelings. But may we not neglect the journey from this side of those feelings to the joyful promised land awaiting.