These past months, my gobbling greedy self learned anew, and deeper than ever, how disappointment can punch you in the stomach. The deep, miserable kind. The cry loudly on your bed when you are home alone. The nose-running kind.
I felt like God had almost given us something amazing. But He shrugged and said “Nah” at the last moment and looked for someone better to give it to. That’s what I felt like. And the fact that I felt that particular cry-baby kind of thing, made me think that maybe what I think and feel about a lot of things to do with God aren’t quite right. Because, was I supposed to feel that way? Wasn’t that naughty and bad and selfish and stupid?
Then, instead of that Big Magical Thing I thought I had deserved to receive into my grasping hands, God gave me a small, tiny thing. A name. It dropped fully formed into my mind one morning as I sat sipping my breakfast tea.
Darlene. My old friend from years back. The woman who knew enough, even back then, to iron her second-hand dresses inside out so they lasted longer.
The fact that her name appeared in my mind — as a billboard — made me think that maybe God that meanie hadn’t completely turned away after all. Because I knew that Darlene knew exactly what this feeling felt like. And she did. Precisely. I had forgotten that. She spent almost two hours with me on the phone, listening to me, reading to me and at the end praying for me. She didn’t once say, “Stop this,” or “No, that’s not right to feel that,” or “Oh, no, you must not feel that other thing.”
She said, “I know.”
She wore compassion like one of those beautiful, grown up dresses I used to see her wearing around that place where we both worked. She told me just enough of her own story to remind me that we were not alone. She even mentioned Brene Brown. My old friend had absorbed all the Rising Strong empathy lessons into her lovely self. Than, after, she sent me a beautiful prayer.
into an unclenched moment,
a deep breath,
a letting go,
of heavy expectancies.
of shriveling anxieties,
of dead certainties,
that, softened by the silence,
surrounded by the light,
and open to the mystery,
I may be found by wholeness,
upheld by the unfathomable,
entranced by the simple,
and filled with the joy,
that is you.” – Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace, Prayers for the Battle
And she wrote: “Bless you friend. So precious to sit with you today. Continuing to hold you prayerfully. I hope we can touch base again in the summer.”
So there I sat, again with tea, remembered.