Because life is short
Sometimes walking along the path of life, I step in it. You know the “it” I mean…the metaphorical pile of poop that stinks up my shoes and makes a bit of a mess. The only way to avoid steppin’ in it is never to take a step at all.
Before Mama died, I was much more insecure about reaching out to people who might reject me. I was afraid of getting hurt and looking foolish. Mama’s death changed my perspective about many things, including risk. In the 18 months following her death, 5 of my co-workers experienced the death of a parent. In each case I had a choice, either to risk reaching out in compassion or to stay inside myself and my own grief. And in each case I opted to reach out…to take the risk of opening myself to another hurting person. And I never regretted it.
Right now I have several friends who are dealing with illness and grief in their lives, and since their lives touch mine, I am touched by their suffering. My heart hurts for all of our feelings of helplessness and lack of control over circumstances. Self-preservation nudges me to isolate myself from their suffering in an effort to minimize my own.
But my heart of hearts urges me to step into their pain, to lean into human frailty and to try to shore up those around me who suffer. As I walk alongside, my shoes may become soiled with their blood, sweat and tears, and my arms may ache from trying to help carry their load. But it’s the only way I know to live.
My life is constantly teaching me lessons about how fragile we humans are, how fast time passes and how important it is not to leave things undone. I do not want to die regretting the thing I DIDN’T do or say. Sometimes saying what needs to be said or doing what needs to be done means steppin’ in it…and if that’s the case, then so be it.
Jesus knows the path we walk, including through the valley of the shadow of death. He knows what we step in. He washed the disciples’ feet, after all. I like to imagine a welcome mat at the pearly gates where we can shake off all that we’ve stepped in here as we prepare to enter Heaven.