“Be the hand of a hopeful stranger – a little scared, but just strong enough. Be the light in the dark of this danger, ‘til the sun comes up.”
“A Safe Place to Land” (Sara Bareilles)
It’s humbling every time someone …
who is hurting,
who is lost,
who’s been or feels abandoned,
who others have discarded as “broken”,
who is longing for anyone (even a stranger) to listen,
who’s thirsting (or, in some cases, starving) to be seen – without judgment,
who is lonely,
who is grieving a loss or a life interrupted,
who needs a reason to keep holding (and fighting) on,
who is desperate to catch a glimpse of hope …
finds their way to my virtual doorstep.
Most are young. Many are not. To the outside world, some appear as if they’ve got it all together, others (just as apparently) do not. Their backgrounds are as diverse as the circumstances that led them to the edge of despair, but they have lots in common: gentle (some might say fragile) spirits; kind and uniquely beautiful hearts; keen and creative minds; a deep sense of empathy; a love of animals; quiet courage; an Elsa-like fear of their innate powers; and a soul that feels – everything – intensely.
They also share a common language. They’re quick to tell you that they’re tired of “being a burden” and don’t want to add to what they’re “certain must be the ones you’re already carrying”. They openly invite you to “tell them if there’s no more room at the inn”, because “they’ll understand”. Some will come out of the starting gate with an apology, but all include at least one in every conversation or text exchange that follows. Ask “what exactly they’re sorry for” and you’ll quickly discover they’re sorry for, well, just about everything –
for “being a screw up”,
for “imposing” on your time,
for not trying hard enough,
for tardiness or eagerness,
for talking too much or not enough,
even, believe it or not, for being “the reason” for tears shed – by you, for them.
In time, you’ll come to realize that their sense of self-worthiness is so compromised, so completely obscured from view that what they’re truly “sorry” for is taking up “valuable” space in the world and consuming air that “certainly” would be put to “better use” by someone else – anyone else. Pause for a moment and imagine feeling that way for even an instant – and then consider (as I often do) that for every one of them there are thousands more who live in that space, including (likely) someone in your immediate work, social, or family circles.
I mention all of this for two reasons. First, because recently a new friend came “knocking” and reminded me just how much pain there is in the world right now, especially now. And, second, in the hope that this message will not only find its way to her heart, but to a heart (or two) like hers that is still searching, longing for, and deserving of a respite from the storm:
Please, receive your “sorry” back! Because, where I am concerned, you are not, never have been, and never will be a burden. You also need not worry about, let alone feel sorry for my tears. I actually welcome my tears. I welcome all my emotions. They’re an integral part of what it means to be fully alive and I don’t attach anything sorrowful to that, nor should you. As for my “plate”? It’s always full. That too is a by-product of living an open-hearted Life and showing up, both of which I wish for you. One final thing – for now. Despite what you might think, I’m not in your life because you’re struggling. I’m in your life because you have a beautiful heart and a rare spirit – and you’ve lost sight of that – of her – for a minute. I’m here to love, to listen, and to help you find your way home to her. And, I’m not going anywhere until you do.
Holding Hope, Me
*Art Credit: “Starry Night” (Van Gogh)