Loving Those Who Are Hurting
The poor. The sick. Those in abusive relationships.
The depressed. The misfits. The underdogs never chosen.
The ones who feel like they’re on the outside looking in to a big, cozy banquet they weren’t invited to attend.
Yeah, those people.
And like Kristen wrote this past week, we as a church don’t always know what to do about this.
I mean, we can do Bible studies with other like-minded Christians and volunteer to teach Sunday school but sometimes I wonder if we aren’t just a little bit afraid of getting dirty.
I once heard the great Max Lucado speak to a group of mothers about this very thing . . .
“All churches should hang a sign outside their door that says ‘This is a hospital – not a country club,’ ” he proclaimed.
Of course. Because those who are sick with a gaping heart that’s been rubbed raw by life would seek a hospital to make it all stop. I’m pretty sure the last place they’d go would be a country club.
This week, I spoke to a lovely group of preschool mothers. I could feel the Holy Spirit alive and kicking in that cozy room– He was moving and it was beautiful to observe.
And right after, I was drawn to a woman in the corner. A beautiful woman who wore pain across her face like a scarlet ‘A’.
I know that look because I have worn it a few times in my life as well.
That’s the thing about broken hearts . . . Once you yourself have held a gaping, raw vessel in your chest and wondered if it could possibly ever continue to beat, you can spot those in a crowd who are currently afflicted.
You became a metal detector for broken hearts.
As soon as she walked in, my siren began to sound.
There is a kinship among those who have been students of the school of hard knocks.
I asked if I could pray with her and she shared a little bit about her story and the beautiful tears of despair fell down her lovely face.
Those tears are beautiful because they leave track marks for authenticity to take root. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, those who are more “worn in” are the ones who wake up one day and find themselves to be an actual, real living bunny instead of a stuffed animal.
Real animals are always so much better than their stuffed counterparts anyway.
And so often, we are scared to reach out to those whose hearts are raw. Maybe we’re worried we’ll say something stupid and make them feel worse. Maybe we just don’t want to get involved. Maybe it all just hits a little too close to home.
I’ve made those excuses so many times.
But you know what those with raw hearts need more than anything?
They need you to take their hand and say “I. Am. Here.” They need to know you aren’t scared and they aren’t too much and you are praying for them like a bat out of you know where.
They need you to tell them it’s all going to be OK because it will. It may not be an easy road to OK but OK will happen. They need you to plant hope and sprinkle it with love. And they need you to simply just say, “I see you and I care.”
They need you to listen and not get irritated if they say something for the hundredth time. They need you to go on a walk with them and point out the good. They need you to take their kids for an afternoon so they can sleep or have a moment of solitude or whatever it is their hurting soul needs.
Really, they just need your love. Love always, always conquers it’s opposing force.
And in the end, that’s very good news for us all.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
- Psalm 34:18