to nurture & be nurtured
For weeks now I've been pondering the parallels between a midwife and a believer in Christ. The ladies at Nonnatus House are there for the best and worst of life. They care for expectant mothers and the least of these in their community. They offer genuine care and comfort during life's most precious and difficult moments. They hide their revulsion at the filth that so often surrounds them. They lend a handkerchief when needed, and are quick with their encouragement and humor. They tell hard truths with compassion, and cheer others on as they push through the pain.
What would the church look like if believers did that for each other? If we offered to come alongside our sisters as they grieve, suffer, and rejoice? If we quit worrying about not having the right words or not feeling useful, and just showed up?
And what if we - the ones who are hurting and celebrating - stopped being afraid to invite people in? What if we gathered our courage and whispered, Please come! Could we do that without first tidying our homes and putting on our best faces? Without making sure the fridge was stocked and the dishes were clean?
There is something missing from the pixel-perfect life we try to create: the living. Our celebrations are too perfect, our trials too clean. Do our controlled environments leave room for the full-on ugly cry that comes with extreme joy and extreme pain? Instead of breathing through the emotions, letting them wash over us, are we too busy thinking of the best way to spin it to maximize our social media capital?
The past two years - especially this last month - have been one of the hardest periods of my life. But how often have I called someone and said, I need you. Can you come sit with me while I try to work this out?
Not nearly enough.
And as I've watched friends go through their trials, how often have I pushed aside my own pain and exhaustion to encourage them to press on?
Not nearly enough.
The writer of Hebrews knew this life of faith would be a tough run that would require great endurance: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1). I can open my Bible and find encouragement on every page, exhortations to keep pressing on. And I dare not say Scripture isn't enough. Yet there is something precious about having a sister in Christ hold my hand and say, You're doing beautifully. Not much longer now!
And if she makes me a cup of hot tea, it'll be that much better.