Driving down a country road, I found myself stuck behind a school bus. It stopped what seemed to me to be every two feet. Once it stopped three times in quick succession. I noticed a young girl get off the bus and run down the tree-lined path to her house. Something was obviously wrong. I looked down the path and saw an older woman sitting on the front porch. She rose to embrace her grandchild. There was something extraordinary about it, not your normal, everyday, ‘how was school today?’ hug.
As the bus moved on, I followed, but could not help but thinking about the girl and her grandmother’s embrace. The young girl was devastated, but her grandmother noticed her pain before her first step off the bus. Here was a wise woman, a veteran of life, of wars within and without, noticing, identifying and rising to meet her brokenhearted granddaughter. Sobbing, the young girl fell into the comfort of her grandmother's world.
I found myself thinking about the grandmother’s comfort. I began to see layers and nuances. There was comfort for the girl in the fact that someone was there, someone who cared, someone who discerned what was happening. Then there was the comfort that came from being in the arms of someone who had been there, someone who had experienced the very same pain, and survived to live another day, many years in fact. The child felt the grandmother’s experience and hope. “Yes this hurts. Yes this is painful. Yes it feels like the world is ending. But it is not. I’ve been there child.”
The grandmother remembered what it was like to be brokenhearted. She identified, by way of her own experience, with the pain of her granddaughter. But the real comfort was not by way of remembering, but by the way the grandchild’s pain was readily perceived, embraced, received, known, and felt by her grandmother. She shared in her granddauther's hurt, and in tasting and feeling and experiencing her granddaughter’s pain as her own, her own experience and hope and confidence made its way, rather invisibly, into her granddaughter’s soul.
I think this is the way Jesus relates to us. He remembers the pain of personal rejection, the trauma of being ignored, ridiculed and insulted by the people he loved. And he can identify with us in our pain by way of his own memories. But his relation to us is so much deeper than through his memory. Jesus meets us, accepts us and embraces us in our hurt. He feels it with us. He tastes the salt of our tears. Our pain rubs off on him and he experiences it with us. Yet he does not meet us as one who has no hope, no assurance, no freedom in himself. Like the grandmother, Jesus meets us and embraces us as the one who knows that our trauma is not the end of the world. He meets us where we are, but in his own, hard-won hope and confidence and peace. And as he meets us, Jesus’ own inner world rubs off on us. His faith, his freedom, his joy, his knowledge of his Father’s passionate love touch our hurting souls.
These encounters or revelations speak volumes: “I am not watching you from a distance. I am here with you. I feel your hurt and I am sharing my heart with you. I do not bring sadness to you or fear or hopelessness. I bring my own knowledge of my Father’s heart. Rest in me and my experience. I am sharing my way of seeing and thinking, my feelings, and my Spirit with you. Now you have a choice. Choose my inner world. Choose my mind, my understanding of my Father. Choose to walk with me in my Spirit.”
For more about this Jesus, see my book, Across All Worlds: Jesus Inside Our Darkness.