Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sharing Pain & Joy

I've been thinking a lot about our need for connection with others lately. It's what we need. We're looking for a place where we really belong with others.

But this looking for connection, for a place to belong only comes when we learn how to show up for people and with people. In the good times and the hard times. In the times were it's easy to show up and in the times when it's difficult of uncomfortable to show up.

It's easy, or at least easier most of the time, to show up for joy-filled celebrations. To celebrate with others. We seem to do better at this than at showing up when it's hard.

But, we struggle to know how to show up when things are hard. In her book Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown puts it this way:
"Not enough of us know how to sit in pain with others. Worse, our discomfort shows up in ways that can hurt people and reinforce their own isolation."
Later on in the same chapter, she calls this a ministry of presence.
"An experience of collective pain does not deliver us from grief or sadness; it is a ministry of presence. These moments remind us that we are not alone in our darkness and that our broken heart is connected to every heart that has known pain since the beginning of time."
The book isn't written as what we would call a "Christian book" today, yet she still saw fit to call this a ministry of presence. Speaking to how powerful it is to have people show up in our hard times, in our pain and just be there with us.

It's not about saying or doing something specific, or the right thing. It's not about having an answer or a solution to fix the problem. It's not even about how close you were before this time.

It's about being willing to just be with someone. To just sit with them and not try to solve the situation or make them happy again. It's acknowledging their pain and what they're feeling and being okay with that not changing right away.

I think our struggle to show up sometimes comes because we feel vulnerable ourselves. Because we're not sure how to handle our own joy or pain, we get scared of others' joy or pain. It requires courage for us to show up, for us to have a ministry of presence.

How are you doing at showing up for people in both joyful and painful times?

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