“Sometimes, though, people who suffer become so meshed in the details they hardly see the forest through the trees – for them, trying circumstances become an inconvenient stump or a fallen log that only blocks their path to happiness.” -Joni Eareckson Tada
A few days ago, I was chatting with my grandmother on the phone for a long overdue phone call. My relationship with her is unique because she’s the last living grandparent that I have, and though I didn’t realize it in my younger years, God knew what He was doing when He delayed calling her Home. I say that because every phone call is basically a sermon, ending in a prayer, packed so full of wisdom that you’d think you were talking to the Lord himself. Every statement applies specifically to me. And before I can stop myself, my eyes are full of tears.
Usually, this kind of thing happens because she calls me out for something I hadn’t told a soul. This time was different. This time she voiced some past hurts that she doesn’t often share. It was the first time I had ever heard her talk about this part of her life, and it stung – even for my ears to hear. I thanked her for sharing and mentioned that I’d never heard the story before. She responded back with, “I don’t like to make people feel bad over what the Lord has already reconciled.”
My whole life, I’d loved my grandmother thinking that she grew up playing legos with Jesus (just joking) not realizing that there actually was a person with history – good and bad – inside this dearly loved of mine.
See, my grandmother is the kind that will stop someone in the grocery store and tell them exactly what they need to hear. You’ll look down at your watch and realize you’ve been talking to her for two hours in the middle of Kroger. You’ll hug her eight times before you have the courage to escape the safe conversation back into the chaotic world in which you live. With every hug, you’ll breathe three deep breaths.
I know, because she does it to me all the time. Time after time, I have been the definition of “hardly seeing the forest through the trees.” I have allowed them to take over ALL OF THE INSANE LOVE that the Father has for me leaving me only to see inconvenient stumps and fallen logs blocking my path to happiness. Yet, my grandmother is still there saying things like, “Romans 8:18 tells us that the pain that we’re feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming, Sugar.” Urging me. Championing me. Cheering me on.
Finding out that my grandmother has suffered through times like these was like finding out that your favorite celebrity likes the same kind of chips you do…unbelievable, yet relatable and comforting. And, if my grandmother has been through it…I think it’s safe to say that most of us have.
Maybe it’s true for you. Maybe sometimes you get caught up in the details, unable to see the forest through the trees. Maybe you look at every trying circumstance as an inconvenient stump or fallen log and think your path to happiness is a dead end. Can I encourage you for a moment? You aren’t alone in that. Look to your left or right today…you’ll probably see someone else in that spot, too.
Maybe they need someone to hug them eight times in two hours in the middle of Kroger just so that they can breathe. Maybe they need someone to remind them of ALL THE LOVE the Father has for them, how He’s clearing the path to happiness that they just can’t see yet. Could you champion someone like my grandmother champions everyone she meets? Could you urge them to keep the faith, to have hope? Can you cheer them on?
And sometimes better yet, can you do it without knowing the details? Can you look at them and love them for exactly who they are, as if you didn’t know there once was a time they didn’t know if they could make it another day? Can you love them deeply without knowing their circumstances like I have loved my grandmother for the last twenty-five years?
See, I think there’s beauty to both sides. You love them for who they are and there’s no sense of judging, no fear of the unknown. There’s only love, compassion, and acceptance. On the other side, knowing the hard that someone else is facing and being able to cheer them on through that is one of the greatest gifts of friendship. The Lord works through it all.
Beyond your understanding and mine, the Lord works through it all.