When you can’t find faithfulness, you can borrow some of mine. And when my joy leaks out, sometimes I need to sit next to yours.
This past weekend, I experienced the incredible gift of gathering with a group of missional leaders who are part of Communitas North America, the organization with which I work and grow. Wow. What a rich, encouraging time we had together. I sat around the table with men and women who are pouring out their lives and resources to serve some of the most marginalized people in our nation. I learned from friends who are practicing faith in vibrant house churches, serving and living in community with the formerly incarcerated, running nonprofits and larger faith communities that are literally transforming cities, and seeking to reach those struggling with drug addiction and homelessness. What an undeserved privilege to sit in such wise, seasoned company. Here is what I know now more than ever, though: We need each other.
Life is so full of ups and downs, isn’t it? Sometimes, when I am feeling most down and discouraged, I need to lean on the shoulders of those who are “up.” And sometimes I am in a space where I can be the one holding up and encouraging the friends around me. We can’t live this life alone, though, and you cannot be all you are made to be without community around you, cheering you on. As I have reflected on my desperate need for friends to hold me up, I was reminded of these words I penned a while ago. May we recount faithfulness together, lending and borrowing joy even when the world around us tells us we can and should be able to “go it alone.”
I have found myself in a joy-drain lately. You know…when the devastating rupture of Eden seems to invade the spaces we call “work” and “home” and even “recreation.” The bleeding has drowned my soul, and the joy has swirled away. I grasp at fleeting moments, hoping to take hold of some kind of joy that lingers, but what of the moments that simply slip away? What are we to do, when “Kingdom come” evades and all we can muster is making it through?
“He tried to kill himself twice last week.”
“Their marriage is over.”
“The death toll is up to eleven.”
“She can barely get out of bed anymore.”
These words, they dump and pour and spill through my heart–a drain, taking the joy with them. How do we count joy, when it seems our lives are only tallying tragedies?
I looked into her eyes, felt the fingers of her story wrap around my own. She was not immune to tragedy, having endured trial after trial under the added weight of mothering through it all. Single. Carrying the…gift? burden?….of six precious souls. Without home. Without hope. Joy was a foreign concept, a distant dream. And yet…the pressing on, the pressing in. The searching for joy, for faithfulness that does not seem real.
I’ve learned that sometimes the faithfulness we recount is not our own, that which we have walked and held and looked at with our own eyes. It’s borrowed. Because we journey together, we recount faithfulness together. And when you can’t find faithfulness, you can borrow some of mine. When my joy leaks out, sometimes I need to sit next to yours.
She fell into the arms of someone else’s recounted faithfulness. It planted tiny, tender roots of joy in her life. She gleaned from those she chose to trust, and received the gift of a seed. It grows. Slowly, fragile in ground once drained of life. But it grows. She has a home, a place to gather her precious brood, and purpose with which to construct each day. And I call her “Hero,” for recounting borrowed faithfulness. For digging deep to make way for a minuscule little seed, a seed that will surely produce the fruit of joy-tales she can one day lend to someone else.
Me? On the days when my joy-drain seems especially large, when the tragedies tally longer than faithful moments…I might borrow your own proclamation of joy, your account of God’s faithful, steadfast love. Because sometimes I need to recount “kingdom come,” even when I cannot find it in my story.