It’s summertime, and if you’re anything like me you’re drinking deeply from the cup o’ awesome. The smoky smell of barbecue and friends gathered on the patio, an icy drink after a sweaty bike ride, boating on the lake as the sun sets (EVERY lake in Minnesota is THE lake), the smell of fresh cut grass, and kids running through the sprinkler… This is my neighborhood. This is my summer.
But this Norman Rockwell and Mayberry picture exists in stark contrast to the conversations I’ve been part of the past few weeks. Conversations permeated by the aroma of despair and disappointment, a thirst for redemption and healing in hard situations where spouses aren’t showing up, and parents grieve over the choices their kids are making and people can be just plain mean. And we want to fix it all, using our plans, our timeline with a little bit of God sprinkled on top.
Isn’t that THE story of all of us, starting way back with Adam and Eve? We want to be God. Period. We want control, but we’re not capable. And so God brings us to the end of ourselves time after time And we once again bow down, draw close, seek Him…and submit to a plan better than ours – a plan that we may not see clearly this side of heaven.
In all of these conversations, hearing so much heaviness, I’ve been asking myself, if not to fix, what IS our role in community?
One small inkling from the Holy spirit came from an unlikely place. We decided to host a backyard bbq for our neighborhood. Now, as someone who hosts a lot of gatherings in her home, let me tell you, these things are always messy and never turn out the way you plan (much like life).
It rains, or people don’t rsvp and then show up, or come at the wrong time, or you remember about their peanut-gluten-dairy-banana allergy as they walk in the door. You can’t “fix” it, you just have to show up and welcome whatever comes.
In all the messiness, the one thing I want to know is just that they’ll be there. That’s it. Just let me know you’re coming.
And I think this is true in the messiness of LIFE.
Here’s how that has looked for us this week:
- A boat ride with friends in crisis where 99% of the time we just listened.
- A texting prayer chain supporting a friend having a bad day.
- Food and hands and feet helping friends with an unwanted move.
- A call to a friend in pain.
We didn’t fix. We just showed up. I hope our presence said, “You’re not alone. We’re here and so is God.”
How are you showing up and walking through hard times with friends?