Leaning into love when we weep.

I suppose in a way it depends on your view of a father.
Or perhaps your view of a friend.
Or maybe even your view of a lover.

What comes to mind when you imagine yourself weeping uncontrollably in grief before a friend, a father or a lover? Does it make you cringe uncomfortably? Do you picture yourself held in safety? Do they reach out to you? Do they feel uncomfortable and ill equipped to deal with your overwhelming emotions? Do they pass a tissue hoping that you will stop crying because surely if the problem is ignored, "time will heal." Ah, yes, that good old adage, "Time will heal." But does it? Does time have the power in itself to heal broken hearts or just it just allow pain to get crusty and dusty and forgotten about while it lies dormant just waiting for another triggering event to raise it's ugly head? Time doesn't heal. Love heals.

And here we are hoping in the healing power of love to move in our lives and make all things right but at the same time feeling the paralysis of fear because allowing love to heal means leaning into love. There is a story that hit me right between the eyes a week or two back. I'll tell it to you.

There was a set of siblings, two sisters and a brother, that were really close. They loved each other. They bickered sometimes like all siblings but there was lots of love between them too. As they lived their normal lives, bickering, laughing, feasting together, they never ever imagined that one day one of them would get really sick, so sick that death loomed on the horizon. It was the brother that that succumbed to the debilitating illness and his sisters became frantic, watching him get worse and worse. They knew there was a man who could make him well and he was a good friend of theirs, so with hope, they sent for him, expecting him to come. But the man delayed. He made the wait and wait and wait until it was too late.

Now I'll inject a little. I'll just say here that I would be so disappointed in the friend. I would feel hurt, angry, and betrayed. What kind of friend would wait so long that their brother died in the waiting. I would feel pained to my soul.

Now the man finally shows up while they are all at home grieving and the oldest sister goes out to meet him while the youngest sister stays at home.

Yes, I'd be the younger sister, still feeling angry at the friend.

The man, noticing the absence of the younger sister, asks for her. Maybe he knows she is hurt, maybe not, but either way he wants to see her. The younger sister goes to meet him and her face is drenched with tears. She falls at his feet, broken. She tells him her brother wouldn't have died if he'd just come when he should have. The man weeps. He is troubled and he groans in his gut.

How would you have felt right then if you were the younger sister? It would be so tempting to continue to push her dear friend out because she feels so hurt, darn it. But she doesn't. She brings him her tears. She doesn't hide in her pain. The beauty in this whole interaction is that the man weeps tears right into her tears. He groans right into her groans. He is troubled with grief right into her troubling grief. He leans into her and she leans into him and they weep together.

Be honest, when you imagined yourself weeping with your father, your mother or your lover, did you see that person leaning into you and weeping tears into your tears?

The healing part of this whole story about the sisters, the brother and the friend, is that the friend is our God (true story recorded in John 11). Jesus, who exactly represents our Father in heaven, leans into us in love when we weep. We need to know that. We need to have confidence that he not only sees, but deeply cares. He doesn't want us to hide in our house (whatever hiding looks like for us), but he stands outside asking for us because he wants us with him so he can weep his tears into ours and the mingling of those salty, wet emotions can become the healing for our wounds.

God is love. 1 John 4:8


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