My daughter just started wanting kisses for her boo-boos, and in turn loves giving kisses for others' boo-boos. It's the sweetest thing, and these are the moments I wonder, Does she really have to grow up? She doesn't ask where the boo-boo came from, she doesn't care if it was my mistake or just a happenstance of the universe, she just kisses it better and moves on.
A couple of weeks ago I realized a habit of mine. A friend came to me with a concern and I did something that in no way helps a situation or a relationship -- I decided how I felt about her problem and what I would do with her problem if it were mine. Like Peanuts' Lucy, I thought I had all the answers and could dispense what she needed to hear for the low, low price of 5 pennies, based solely on what I thought she should think and feel.
What would change if instead of assigning my own judgement on her and the problem, I just walked with her through it? What if I came alongside her, held her hand if she needed it, and just stood with her through her pain? What if I suspended everything I thought about her heart and just sat with her?
A few years ago our pastor talked us through the 23rd Psalm, which has the line, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me." He talked about the Power of With and how one of the most powerful examples of humanity is to be with someone through their fear, through their pain, through whatever it is they're going through. Instead of assigning blame or judgement, just walking up next to them and saying, "I'm with you."
In the coming days, as our nation struggles to understand its place and its state, some people's fears are going to increase. Whether those fears are real to you or me does not matter. Whether I believe a certain population does or does not deserve to feel however they feel in a given situation does not matter. It's not me sitting in their shoes, it's not me churning in conflict on a daily basis, and despite what the Internet tries to make me believe, I am not the sole proprietor of wisdom and advice.
If we can remember to come alongside people, to listen and just be with them, I hope the humanity will rise to the surface and win over all the darkness.
High hopes, but hopes I'll never let go of.
(Header photo credit: http://www.singingwiththespirit.com/2013/11/14/learning-how-to-walk-nov-17th/)