You sit at the table telling your story, the one about all the hard changes in your life. The way you tell it, I can see life squeezing you dry through all the transitions and adjustments.
The tears begin to stream down your face from all you left behind and because, after all the changes, life hasn’t fallen into place like a neat little puzzle. Instead, you are learning to put together the mismatched pieces of your life and make it work, like a mosaic of tiles, all funny shapes with odd spaces in between.
Truth is, we’re all piecing together the broken parts of our life, making it into something beautiful. Somehow the brokenness shows us the beautiful, bigger picture of something more.
I drove eighteen hours to the Rocky Mountains two summers ago, looking for God in the mountains. When I wasn’t trekking down rocky paths on the back of a horse, I found myself at an art store at the YMCA, where I bought broken glass to make a mosaic.
Yeah, it seemed so easy–all those pieces of glass tiles that I thought would fit easily together. Turns out they were a mismatched bunch of shapes and broken parts and jagged edges. I spent hours sorting through piles of glass just to find the right one, only to realize it was too big or another edge wouldn’t fit. I finally understood after too many hours: There would not be a perfect fit between the mismatched tiles. The sharp edges and odd shapes would have to fit together imperfectly.
Funny thing, this mosaic metaphor: It’s the way friendship works too.
We aren’t perfect with our hard edges and flaws. But we find that grace goes far in a friendship. It allows us to overlook all those imperfections and line up beautifully, one soul to another.
So when hurting friends show up at my table, their shoulders slumping with the weight of emotional baggage, I settle in to listen, to lean in close.
Because being there is more important than big words.
Your presence, more soothing than your answers.
Sharing in someone’s hurt means accepting all those jagged edges of this person’s soul and still saying, I love you, flaws and all.
Because what a hurting person needs isn’t your opinion, it’s your attention.
So be all there.
The Jews know this well. For seven days after a Jewish funeral the grief-stricken family sits in the presence of friends. The Jews call this “sitting shiva.” No work is done. No other topics are discussed.
The friends who visit during a “shiva call” come in quietly and sit next to the mourners. They aren’t greeted. There isn’t the usual small talk. Their job is to be present, to sit in silence or listen to the mourners.
The example of sitting shiva shows us how to love people in their sorrow. We put aside our own needs and try to be present in the moment. We don’t veer away from the hurt, because their hurt is why we came. We don’t distract. We’re just there to be.
It’s easier, in our technology-driven society, to distract our friends with news, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, and small talk. What’s hard is silence.
So let the broken hearts spill their guts or let them sit with silent tears running down their face. Let them rage or stare vacantly out the window.
No matter how their pain pours out, like angry crashing waves or the slow drops of a steady fountain, your presence is all they need.
So be all there.
Because in the end, they will remember the time you spent, the attention you gave, the way your presence was a gift. They will remember how you came, and sat, and didn’t expect anything from them.
Because in life, a good friend is one of life’s greatest joys, and this is true even more so in pain, where the comfort of a friend is like a healing balm poured out on the wounded soul.
This is the mosaic of a beautiful friendship—the jagged edges of souls cemented together in unbreakable bonds.
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