We were on our way to help. We were just taking food to fill bellies and loading a car to empty a house. A house once filled with love and family is now barren, probably empty a long time ago. And so we are on our way. The kids in the car full of their questions. My heart divided. Broken for this marriage, for this family, but full of joy at these big questions from small people that display such curiosity and compassion for their brethren, fellow image-bearers of God.
“Where are they moving?”
“Indiana”, I respond.
“Do they speak English in Indiana?” He asks so innocently.
“Yes”, I assure them as I giggle under my breath, “it’s still in the United States.” So worldly, these littles all of five and seven.
“Oh, good.” Relief holds her words in a soft, gentle voice. “It would be hard enough to move to a whole new place, but having to learn a whole new language, too?!?” Yes, sweet girl. Hard. Enough. I don’t tell her my sweet friend is learning a new language. Hope shattered is a new language no matter how many times you must learn it. But I leave the silence alone and we sit with our thoughts, their compassion.
Compassion. Bursting right through the heart seams. Preparing to enter in… into another’s mess, another’s path stretched out, one we cannot ourselves fathom walking down. And with this compassion comes questions, so when we enter in, we understand the hearts around us a little more, handling them ever so gently, maybe without words.
It’s in these everyday moments of life that the lines between teacher and student are blurred and crossed and blended. They are teaching me right there in the car how to bend, how to prepare to come into a mess. Not to fix it, restore it, make it all better. These are the things my soul screams to do, but only God can do that. They are teaching me to ask questions and prepare my heart to enter in, walk right into the mess, get my feet dirty while washing the feet of the broken. Not entering in never crosses their minds. It's not a matter of not going, it's a matter of knowing the size of the mess.
Their simple questions remind me how to go to the hard places and just do what we can do. Feed bellies and empty a house. We cannot do any more in this situation. We can only do what God asks of us. When we leave, the marriage will still be shattered, hearts will still be burdened, this family will still be broken.
This is what Jesus asks of us, this is how He loves. He bears our burdens. He comes alongside us in the most desperate of times, when our hearts are more than broken. He breaks with us, cries with us. He enters the mess, the dead center of it, no matter the size. And He asks us to do the same for each other. But He does not thwart the Father’s plan to save us the heartache because He knows the glory that waits on the other side of broken, on the other side of messy. "Take this cup, but Your will Lord." Your. Will. Oh, those words are so hard to utter, yet deep down, we know it’s His will from beginning to end just as it is in the middle of the mess. And we wouldn't want it any other way.
Jesus, thank you for entering in. Thank you for teaching me, my children how to do the same, how to go to the hard places with our brothers and sisters and hold them in the hurt, knowing we’ve done what you have asked and it’s all we can do. And thank you for comforting us all in knowing that we cannot restore, we cannot reconcile, we cannot heal. Only you can. And you can do it more beautifully than we could ask or imagine.