We work so hard to plan events and to think about how we’re going to do things to connect with people. We make plans, organize, and structure our “official” time of ministry. Yet most of the time, the real moments happen outside of that structure. In a typical community outreach, that’s when the rubber meets the road.
A few of us girls were chatting and at one point someone mentioned a fairly recent death in her family. A few years ago, I might’ve tried to say something nice or provide some answers. But this time, I didn’t try to fix it.Instead we were just sad together. I shared about my cousin’s death and Hannah shared about losing her mom. Our young friend’s story is hers to tell, not mine, but Hannah and I both connected with it.
There are no easy answers for grief. No way of fixing pain. No possibility of reversing tragedy. We could try to give all the answers we want, but they never really suffice.
All we can do is care for and love one another. Sometimes, that means all we can do is be sad together. And yet, in a strange way, being sad together is often the most healing.
It is grief that connects us as human beings.
Grief is universal. It goes beyond cultural barriers, racial barriers, and even language barriers. No one can go through life without experiencing loss. We hope to have to deal with death at the “right” time and in what we think is the “right” order, when we’re old enough to understand it and after we feel our loved ones have lived long and fulfilling lives. But sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. And no matter where we are from or what type of life we have led, we all must learn to grieve.
When Hannah and I chose to share our experiences at the neighborhood outreach, our differences fell away. For a few minutes, we didn’t have ages, opinions, race, money, or culture. Those things became insignificant compared to the community formed by sharing our stories of grief.
God designed us to be in community for a reason. He designed us to love each other. He knew we would need each other, to build bonds that last through the times of joy and the times of sorrow. We are even instructed to do so: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:12-13a).
When we stop holding things inside and instead share our grief, we allow our sadness to connect us. We bring glory to God by sharing in the community He designed. We bring each other to the feet of our Father … sometimes hobbling … sometimes carrying each other … but we come anyway.