She Leaned In: A Companion Piece

A couple of days ago this writing arrived in my inbox.  It is from the person I wrote about in a post titled, ‘She Leaned In’.  It is too beautiful to not share.  I hope everyone has someone like this in his/her life.  

Open Doors

Ah, Monday – my brief escape from the weight of life. Those weekly two hours replenished me, sustained me. It was a rare opportunity to emerge from my cocoon and interact with others.

The window was closing. The meeting had adjourned and at least half the ladies vacated their seats. I slowly packed my bag, thinking hard and willing time to slow long enough for me to invent an excuse to delay departure: binder, journal, pens, Bible, loose papers. I rifled through the bag’s contents once there were no more items to add, stalling longer as if I’d forgotten something. I was waiting – waiting for anyone to approach me, force me out of my shy bubble and take away just a sliver of the loneliness.

Finally accepting that the excuses were absent and my lingering would soon turn to negligence as the child care volunteers awaited pick-up, I stood. Something in me gave me further pause, however, and I looked around me.

She sat two seats away from mine, to my left. I think at this point she’d finished packing her bag and stared at nothing, thoughtfully. As I gazed at her, my heart filled with compassion.

This woman, so thoughtful and fragile-looking that day, had been at her most vulnerable the previous week. She shared something deeply personal, had shed a few tears in front of the group, yet in the midst of it remained strong. Her strength, in that moment, had come from praising the Lord.

This woman, to whom I’d only ever offered a handful of words, drew me in. I’d observed her silently over a period of months, listened intently to what she spoke. I’d been inspired and impressed by the wisdom that seeped from her every time she opened her mouth – the quiet of her demeanor juxtaposed with fervent passion for the Lord. She disguised herself by selectively speaking, but her words betrayed her. This woman, who seemed a rock star of faith, sat alone beside me – and in that moment, something drew me closer still. I didn’t need to glance around to know that no one else approached us to interrupt this rare moment of private togetherness– and while I appreciated the privacy, I was simultaneously struck: Seriously? Was no one going to follow-up with her after last week’s confession?

This group who at times appeared so closely knit together – were they (we) really just a bunch of individuals leading individual lives and parading as one body? Surely our great and loving God would position a community of compassionate hearts around her, especially now – but then, maybe it’s me. I didn’t want to attract attention or invite rejection, but in those few seconds as I stood within a few feet of her, His Spirit compelled me.

“How are you doing?” I asked simply. Her eyes lifted to meet mine, a hesitation in them that surprised me. I’d expected the typical, “I’m good; how are you?” sentiment, but her eyes revealed something more.

“I’m not okay,” she confessed, her eyes locked on mine and filled with such emotion that I was stunned. Why would she trust me like this? Why would she open herself to me in a way that I’m sure I wouldn’t have done for her?

My legs collapsed and I sat, edging close to her and wrapping an arm around her back as she leaned forward and into me. Our voices lowered to a whisper, and I both listened and offered what little comfort I thought I had – though even as I spoke them, the words seemed trite and out-of-place. Yet, this moment between us was real and organic. It was a door that God opened, that we may find something greater behind it.

It was a spark, which ignited a flame. That woman, whom I barely knew that day, opened herself to me and let me in – something I so feared doing myself. That woman, so beautiful and broken in that moment, has since walked confidently and appreciatively through my doors as I have opened them to her, and the flame that lit that day is a roaring fire. She is my sister, and I am hers.

That’s the funny thing about fires, I suppose: sometimes they seem scary. They can’t easily be controlled, and often require so much tending. Yet, The warmth they provide can soften even the hardest of hearts. I have found myself to be as malleable metal, safe in the hands of my Lord, the Blacksmith, who wisely pushes me out of my comfort zone and ignites fires in my heart that will help mold me into who He wants me to be. That woman, my friend and sister, is a lovely tool in His hands.

From the pen of a true friend.  

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