Jesus Dust

4:10 AMHeather

Last week, we had some friends over for dinner.  Those special kind of friends that you've known for years and have shared history with--and the kind of friends who can be completely yourself with.  They have recently been walking through a very stressful season, marked by much uncertainty.

As our conversation continued, they talked about the frustration of hearing from well meaning friends who threw a general Christian cliche or Scripture passage their way and then moved along their own merry way.  Don't get me wrong, they appreciated the general kind intent of these friends, but they find these gestures rather empty as far as easing their pain and anxiety.  

I know just what they mean.  I can remember my conflict when such niceties were thrown my way during my season of grief.  On the one hand, I knew such friends to be concerned and kind in general, and I appreciated that they had no idea exactly what to say.  At least they were trying.  But on the other hand, their attempts so missed the mark that I felt frustrated by it.  I laughed in complete understanding when my friend said, "I know they mean well, but it feels as though they just want to throw a little Jesus dust my way and head along.  What I really want is someone to sit and listen and allow me to share my feelings."

I've thought about this conversation many times since last week.  I've found myself thinking through my own interactions.  Have I wanted to just throw a little "Jesus dust" at a friend, hoping it'll make some magical quick difference so that I don't really have to get involved?  Or, am I willing to be like that Casting Crowns' song Love Them Like Jesus?

Rejoice with those who rejoice;  
mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15

I know I've written about this before.  But, I think it's worth repeating.  We are called to share in the emotions of those around us--and it's dirty work.  It's not some quick pixie dust thrown from afar.  It's continual and ongoing.  Sometimes, it IS celebrating right along with a friend. But, those celebrations and seasons of laughter are usually much sweeter when you have also grieved and cried together.  It's not fun to mourn--but we have to remember that mourning alone is even worse.
Feel free, of course, to share a Scripture that you think might encourage your hurting friends.  But, take it a step further.  Pray that Scripture for them--or even better, WITH them.  Don't bring a conversation to a quick end, but take the time to end it with a heartfelt prayer.  Let them talk.  And if necessary--talk and talk and talk.  What is more important than relationships?  Be a safe place for them to fall.  Again and again and again.  Be committed to the rough rocky road and assure them that while you have no magic words to erase the pain, you will walk WITH them through it all.  You will see it through with them.

INTENTIONAL challenge:  I am writing this blog post for myself as much as anyone.  I can be so preoccupied with my own wailing that I tune out the crying next to me.  It's much easier to throw some Jesus dust in their general direction.  But, we have to remember that easy-to-remember Bible verse--you know, Jesus wept.  Jesus felt his own emotion and allowed it to bubble over and weep with his friends Mary and Martha in their moment of grieving.  Oh, he knew what was coming next and the happy ending ahead.  But, he took time to do something very important--he mourned with those who mourned.   So, pull up a chair and sit a spell with the hurting.  That is kingdom work.

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