"You're my brother, you're my sister,
So take me by the hand,
Together we will work until He comes;
There's no foe that can defeat us
When we're walking side by side,
As long as there is love, we will stand."
Ahhh, there's a catch, though. We must continue to stand together in love. And I think that's what I'm struggling with these days: feeling loved by, and together with, my people.
I guess I allowed myself to become a little disillusioned over the past few years. Notes/comments on social media have been quick to proclaim that our family is loved and missed and should come "home" for a visit.
Then I did. And precious few of those note writers observed my presence. And so began my feelings of disillusionment. Had I really invested 15 years of my life in building community with so many people who couldn't - or worse, wouldn't - spare 15 minutes?
And then I came back to my new home, where I have found my stride in life. I felt blessed to be covered in the love and prayers of new friends as I journeyed back East, and couldn't wait to return to open fields, open skies and open arms.
Except the arms I expected weren't open. It was coworkers who asked the details of my dad, my mom, my gay boyfriend and the ocean. The prayer whisperers were absent in the aftermath.
I chose to count myself doubly blessed: I had friends for praying and friends for staying. Those people who need only interact Monday through Friday during business hours have become woven into the fabric of my heart. They choose to care at all hours.
I spent the next three weeks fielding questions about my daughter. My first baby who is about to give birth to my first grandchild. "What does she need? Is she getting excited? Will there be a shower? I have stuff for her! Tell us when and how we can help or drop things off!"
The baby shower was advertised on flyers around town. It was posted liberally on social media accounts. And it was attended by exactly two people who were not family. One of those two makes no claims to Christianity. Again, though, coworkers came through with a stroller/carseat combo and numerous items of furniture and clothing.
My daughter lives directly across the street from my church. Many from the congregation nod, wave, or even chat with her each week. Still, the day after the unattended baby shower, several watched her excuse herself from the dinner-on-the-grounds lineup when she didn't have enough money, as she assumed it was the price of a donation. And my heart shattered.
When did we, as the family of God, forget how to be family? When did we stop linking arms with the sad and the poor and the loner and the weak? When did we begin to believe it was OK to offer lip service but be of no actual service?
I am challenged by these events: to be better, to do more, to love harder. To see a need and meet it. To bind up the brokenhearted. To stand in the gap for someone who has no one. To take every thought captive and stomp out the root of bitterness. We are better together.
If I have ever neglected you, please accept my heartfelt apologies. If I have disappointed or made you feel less than, I am so sorry! If it's not too late, I'd like to be better at being part of your community. If there are specific ways I can help, please don't hesitate to ask!
When life gives you lemons, I would like to be the shade for your lemonade stand. Because sometimes the best thing is just to show up and stand.