From an article originally posted May 1, 2014...
What is care? The word finds its origin in the word Kara, which means to lament, to mourn, to participate in suffering, to share in pain. To care is to cry out with those who are ill, confused, lonely, isolated, and forgotten, and to recognize their pains in our own heart. To care is to enter into the world of those who are broken and powerless and to establish there a fellowship of the weak. To care is to be present to those who suffer, and to stay present, even when nothing can be done to change their situation.
To Care is the most human of all human gestures. It is a gesture that comes forth from a courageous confession of our common need for one another and the grace of a compassion that binds us together with brothers and sisters like ourselves, who share with us the wonderful and painful journey of life.
In the very act of caring for another, you and I possess a great treasure. One of great riches of caregiving is that it embraces something more than simply a focus on cure. Caregiving carries within it an opportunity for inner healing, liberation, and transformation for the one being cared for and for the one who cares. And because we who offer care and we who receive care are both strong and vulnerable, though in different ways, our coming together in a caregiving relationship is an occasion to open ourselves to receive and unexpected gift.
Henri J. M. Nouwen, A Spirituality of Caring
I love that—to recognize their pains in our own hearts. I have friends this week walking in despairing pain. Some are attempting at cheerful optimism, some or in deep lament and fear. Some of us (me) have functioned, but once placed onto yet another procedure table fell into a million pieces.
I closed my eyes as the needle passed through again and again. Nerves were hit, and my grimace was quiet. Tears streamed down my cheeks and we thought we were done. Unfortunately, there was not enough. So again, more needles all through my hip. More tears. More listing to Ellie Holcomb. Every song a reminder of truth. Run, don’t walk, to get her new album.
Then it was done. I came home to my soft bed, my caregiver working beside me on his sermon. He’s the best of life and helps me greet the worst of it. He demonstrates the goodness of God. And in that, I feel safely kept. No matter what the outcome of this last scar.
Where do you struggle to enter in as a caretaker? What intimidates you about entering the ugly, messy, painful of another? Why does a safe distance feel so much more tidy? Well it is frankly. But near to the brokenhearted, it’s a beautiful place to dwell. We have met so much brokenness this week in our small church community. We are the broken beautiful... It has been a pleasure to comfort the mama facing a new diagnosis in her family, the family having to reimagine life and employment, and another family facing despair, but being met—beautifully met by community. In all that brokenness, there is grace. In all that pain, we walk shoulder to shoulder. In all that sorrow and hurt, we carry one another to Jesus. It’s messy business, but it’s beautiful. I would not trade one of us for a tidier version.
Get in there friends. Meet the weary, love the broken, meet the devastated. Sometimes words aren’t needed. Just enter. The Holy Spirit will make it clear what you are to do. Just don’t wait to be asked. Get in there. Your brand of love is important.