When we spend focused, quality time with others, something quite miraculous can happen to us. We enter their world, not by choice, but because of the Spirit of God living within us. We find joy when they find joy. We tear up when they tear up. We feel angry when they speak of injustice and hurt.
At first, I thought that this happened to me because I was a chaplain or because I was “overly sensitive.” I have to admit to both of these, but I do believe there is something more. And I discovered this when I was confined to bed after a surgery with complications.
One evening, I lay in bed with my leg elevated, and tears came to my eyes. Yes, I was in pain, but this was deeper than skin and muscle. My spirit was in pain. I began to quietly sob.
My husband came by the bedroom and dropped in to check on me. “Are you all right?”
“Are you in pain? You’ve been crying.”
“Yes, but not for my pain. I am feeling the pain of the world…” I had a hard time getting the words out but knew I needed to voice what I was feeling. “There are so many people hurting right now for so many reasons--death, disease, war, hunger, displacement, loneliness--for some reason I feel that I am crying for them, for all of them.”
That night has stayed with me, lodged in my memory, and as I examined it a bit more closely, I realized that it was the Spirit of God within me that was crying. Part of my spiritual transformation enabled me to feel things that I normally would not feel or respond to. I might feel sadness or despair, but this was gut-wrenching, raw pain. It left me baffled when it happened. I wondered if others experienced this. I believe some do--not only followers of Jesus but many others who are spiritually growing. I see it as a gift from God.
When I worked in hospital chaplaincy, I had many patients apologize to me when, in the midst of their story, they began to cry. I always responded with, “Don’t apologize! Tears are a gift from God. Let them flow.” And then my own tears would flow and join theirs in a stream of pain with gratitude mixed in that we could experience this moment together.
I have also found that when we share our gifts with others--whether it be listening, kindness, empathy, tears, encouragement, wisdom, among others--we are ripe for God to work within us at that moment, as well as God working through us to come alongside another human being.
These are really unplanned moments in time. They are unscheduled and usually take us by surprise. Our part is to be open and then to eventually be aware of what is really taking place. May God be with you this day as you share what you have and then anticipate understanding what is happening inside of you as a result.