Recently I read a poem by the Somali-British poet Warsan Shire that moved me deeply. The words were a profound calling:
later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole
where does it hurt?
Our world is hurting everywhere. I can't help but think of the words of Saint Francis of Assisi when he said, "We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way."
As believers, we should consider the purest theology to love others as they are, where they are. This means to sit with them and simply listen to their stories. Cherishing them. Jesus pursued us with love and we should do likewise. I like how Bob Goff put it in his book Love Does, "I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to love them."
Love is being present with someone. We don't have to offer answers, but to just be with them. To simply hear what they have to say without waiting to say something back.
This is a hurting world. I have written before, that by His wounds we are healed and from our wounds we help others to heal. What I mean by this is, when we go through struggles, hardships, and difficulties it should provide in us the empathy to understand the hurting of another. It is being able to simply tell someone, "You're not alone."
To hold a hand. Share some coffee. To listen. To sit with. These are the acts of mercy, love and grace. They speak louder than words.
The Psalms tells us that the Lord "heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" (147:3). He did this by love and through love. He understood that ministry was more than preaching sermons, teaching parables, or speaking a word. Jesus was teaching us that healing oftentimes comes by us just stopping what we are doing, to go and spend time with someone who needs us to (the Samaritan woman by the well is a good example of this).
Romans 12:9 starts, "Let love be genuine . . ."
Without agenda. Loving someone just to love them, not to save them.
It may mean that I stop what I'm doing to listen to a coworker open their hurts about how her husband has left her and she is tending to a mother who is going deeper and deeper into the mire of Alzheimer's. By taking that time to listen, I am showing her that she is important, that she matters, and that she is not alone.
But helping to heal others hurts by our own woundedness also means having the courage to be vulnerable and open. In his book Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Inner Belonging, Brennan Manning writes, "If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others."
And it is often that, as the Sufi poet Rumi wrote, "The wound is the place where Light enters you."
When I do stop and share in the hurting of another, they see love and light that helps them begin to understand that it is a love and light that is rooted in God.
Emmanuel means "God with us." And He is and He often is through others in our lives. But we have to see people not as projects but as human beings who suffer in loneliness, shame, fear, isolation, and disconnectedness. They need to see that we are there to listen and to love. By doing so we will show them the Beloved who is waiting to meet them where they are and let them know that they are never alone, that they are loved, that they are of the up most worth.
So let us go everywhere
everywhere . . .