Some people would probably say that a “good” Christian doesn’t question God. Well, if that’s the case, I’m fine with the “good” left permanently off any description of me as a Christian, because I most certainly do question God. However, it might not be in the vein that you are expecting. I don’t question God and cry out, “Why is this happening to me?” No. I did that before and I got my response, so that’s not a question I need answered anymore.
No, what I ask is: “Why is this happening to them?”
Why is this happening to my friends and loved ones? Why are they suffering? Why are their dreams deferred? Why are their hopes dashed? Why is all they have worked and loved for starting to tremble and shake? Why are they sick? Why did they lose their home? Why have they lost ones dear to them? Why have people cheated them out of what they have earned, abandoned them, and mistreated them? Why, God? Why?!
Why am I safe and hale and hearty when those I love suffer? And yet they give out of their low, empty, or non-existent cups and spoon drawers for me? They give of time and hearts and ears and voices, love and support and encouragement and strength, for me! They listen to my whinings and whingings, my tears and sighs. They give everything out of nothing, amidst all that is happening to them.
The answer I have gotten to my heart’s cry is twofold. Firstly, what my friends go through is what they go through because the map of their life is entirely different than mine. Everything is different. How can I expect the same result, the same happenings from different lives? Now, I am not saying that this justifies their suffering or to offer platitudes that just end up being hurtful. What I am saying is that I don’t know why they are experiencing just what they are experiencing. I cannot point you to any causal fixture, a single catalyst. I am not here to offer an “at least” or to try to silver-line their sufferings; that would be unfair and unkind. We often quote Albert Einstein in that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I would also define it as putting together differing components in an experiment and expecting the same compound to emerge each time as a result. It cannot be done in science and it cannot be expected of individual, unique lives.
The second part of the answer I have gotten pertains to their giving. These people that give even when their own cup or drawer is low. How can they do that? Why do they do that? I truly feel like God’s answer is, “They do so that you may learn from them. They have set the example of love. This is the path. Follow it.” I’d like to say that it floored me but not so much. How can I be that surprised with all I have witnessed and experienced? It is enormously true and incredibly humbling. And I have learned. I have experienced firsthand the living out of the definition of love in these people, through the way they have given and continue give of themselves for me in their care and empathy for me, even when they are running on empty. It doesn’t stop them from loving on me or on others. So often, they have taken parts of their heart and repaired mine with it. I couldn’t have asked for better teachers and mentors on the path that I feel called to in this life.
I have spent several days recently in tears and a low heart/headspace for the hardships, suffering, and just plain rough times of people for whom I care deeply and dearly. When my husband has asked what’s wrong, my reply has been, “This empathetic heart of mine.” And he gets it.
I have learned (and am still learning) empathy from you, friends and loved ones. I have learned how to slip down into the hole with someone and feel for them. You are a giver and you have taught me how to show love, to give from my heart even when my hands are empty. Having a senstive heart is not easy. Feeling with someone else is not easy. Connection on that level is not easy. Sometimes it takes a little longer to pull myself back together. But that’s okay. I can live with that if it means that I am learning the lessons that God is teaching me through you. I wrote a few days ago about choosing to be soft and you have been a huge part of that. I think that the quote below sums up my process through life lessons, learning from these givers, and self-understanding in that sensitivity.