Recently I had a close friend experience great loss, and all the grief that comes with it. My friend had lost her baby girl at 24 weeks pregnant. Such a tragedy! Her loss affected me deeper than any other loss I had witnessed or had experienced first-hand. I was pregnant too, and just 4 weeks ahead of her. So blame it on pregnancy hormones if you want, but I feel like there was something bigger and deeper happening in my heart.
I had made it a habit, subconsciously, to turn my eyes from tragedy or someone else’s problems. It can be awkward, what do I say? What do I do? It is easier to just stay silent, and go about my day. It is very easy to justify that someone will do or say the right thing. Sure I send my condolences, send a meal, pray, etc, but what about the days to come when tragedy’s pain is still there? Do I continue to reach out or be a shoulder to cry on? Or do I let it become “yesterday’s news”?
All too often, I go home, and push other’s tragedy away. I shut the door behind me, and as evening sets in I settle into my nice, quiet, and cozy home. I let myself forget about others problems. Whether it be a friend in a situation like this or the homeless man sitting on the side of the street, the child neglected around the corner, the wounded soldier sitting on a hospital bed, or the wife and kids sitting at home longing for their husband/daddy to come home.
Watching my friend go through such great pain opened my eyes to so many things that I needed to change. I would find myself crying, at random, days and weeks on end. I could be cooking, cleaning, or knitting and the tears would flow. I would go to bed and cry for her; I wanted to call her at that moment, hug her, go throw something with her, scream with her. Whatever she needed I wanted to do it with her…I wanted to feel her pain! I couldn’t look away. I didn’t want to look away! “Why?”, I asked myself. Why suddenly did I passionately want to feel someone else’s pain? I began to realize that when you truly love someone and care for them deeply you will do anything for them even if it means getting down in the dirt and the pain of it all.
This very personal revelation further beckoned me. I began to ask myself, “do I love my heavenly Father like that”?
Whoa! A huge reality check for me! I had always thought to “fellowship with Christ in His suffering” was an obligation, and quite honestly I would try to avoid it. On the contrary, it isn’t an obligation it’s a privilege that I can be that close with Him. If I truly desire closeness with God I will want to fellowship with Him; I will want to feel what he feels…good or bad.
So I am learning to be there and care for those I truly love when tragedy strikes. It can be awkward, but I am willing. And I am also learning to change my mind-set of what it means to fellowship with Christ in His suffering.