For some, rivers-deep in fantasy, the bearing of one’s soul is accomplished in the imagination. Elaborate characters and complicated scenes play out that magnify the reality of life far better than they do the hypothetical.
No one stared Aslan in the whiskers and thought of anything but Christ. No Lord of the Rings fanatic wonders after hobbits and forgets they were, in countless ways, the least and the last. Tolkien was no stranger to Christianity, and neither was Lewis.
For me, while several things have become the conduit to a vulnerable self, I have found one unequalled in its purity and tenacity: helping an even more vulnerable other.
I have had the opportunity of late to sit and absorb the trusting confidences of one who is suffering a wealth of losses. This person, despite the intensity of pain endured, has taken no time at all to reveal to me the barest, most broken, most chaotic parts of his life. And what did I do to earn it? Nothing—not even a word or two in kindness that would endear me to him, or convince him of my integrity and trustworthiness. Nonetheless, he trusts and reveals.
Often in my life, I have to fight to share my own struggles with others. I am not one to open up the wounds born of my history and offer them up for examination. I desire first that everyone in my life show their unwavering love; when I am convinced of this, then I can uncover the sordid things which make me uncanny ugly. Only when love is as close to unconditional as it can be in humanness am I willing to open the gates and lower the defenses.
But this takes time and patience. Often, I never get there. And so, I have spent many years listening and not sharing—an awful imbalance which has been, to some degree, detrimental to my mental state and self-image. Because I have invested my energy in such virile defense and impregnable protection, I assume all others have done, and continue to do, the same.
Every so often, though, I stumble into a situation that shocks the heavily fortified self. When I see others who are wounded, I endeavor to approach them tenderly with gentle care. I expect no revelations immediately and understand the process that trust demands. But when this protocol is thrown out the window and trust is offered instantly, I, myself, am made a naked, vulnerable thing. All my strategies and formulas fall by the wayside, impotent. And there I sit: listening, absorbing, wondering in awe.
It is precisely in this moment that I find myself unable to exact a plan. The only thing I can do is sit back and listen. I do not think about how or why this wounded person is sitting in front of me, or how they came to be where they are, or what decisions they have made that caused them grief. I think only: This is what it means to be, at one and the same time, divine and divinely inspired.
If we were to spell out in modern terms what God is to us, I am sure it would have this tincture, this warmth. Nothing exists outside the humble quiet of trust and revelation that occurs in these shocking moments. For however much I desire to employ some method of healing, however much my mind demands action or my heart begs intervention, I sit still. I sit, confirmed in trust. And I am so fully aware that this is a trust placed in me not worthy of me, that this is gift given by someone else’s will and I have no say in the matter. No say at all.
Sometimes, I seek out God in everyday life, and sometimes it seeks me out. This is one of those most profound, most humbling times. And thank God for it.