Finding rest in the midst of chaos
I sit across the table from her in the early morning as we drink coffee in the corner of this tiny breakfast spot that is a 45 minute drive for both of us. It’s the perfect middle meeting place. She drives south as I’m driving north. It isn’t anything pretty to look at, this little diner that seems to be full of locals who all know each other and talk farming and friendship and bureaucracy. But to me, on this rainy Saturday, it is sacred ground.
We’ve somehow managed to carve out time with none of our combined thirteen children and have two full hours of face time. Not the electronic app type, but the real kind where I can reach across my coffee cup and touch her arm. There is little time for chit chat or anything light or mindless, not today. We know our time is short and we both know too there is heartache of many varieties on each side of the table. There are twenty five years of friendship in between as well.
Our banter is quiet and though we find things to laugh about, as we exchange words and share about life, something happens that is always a bit beyond the reach of my understanding. Somehow, in the sharing, in the hearing, in the remembering together, the burdens that are pressing so heavy on my heart are lifted just a bit. We don’t answer any big questions or solve any mysteries. The process reminds me of these words that are life to me these days…
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
These two hours are rest for my soul. In the midst of the talking, the listening and the tears there is some sort of mysterious exchange. It feels like she is a stand-in for Jesus. There isn’t any better way to describe it. In daring to speak out loud my deep sadness and struggle, and listening to hers….in shouldering it alongside each other in the corner booth, it doesn’t weigh the same. It is lighter.
At certain times, I think God knows we need a physical person to represent him in our life. We need someone living, breathing, sitting right there whose own eyes well up when they see us cry. Someone who holds no judgement over our failure or mistakes. Someone who doesn’t offer an answer but extends compassion and makes sure we know they aren’t going anywhere. We can read in a book or on a blog or know God’s word by memory, all sorts of truth. But there are moments in life when things press in a little (or a lot) too hard and we need a person who looks like Jesus to hold us up, to bear with us under the weight of life, until we can stand again.
Thankful today that we don’t have to walk it alone. That one way or another, God stands near. Ever present in our pain.