This weekend, I read Jamie Tworkowski's "If You Feel Too Much" in a span of 24 hours. It was that good. I honestly cannot remember a time I have read a book that after every chapter I say "dang *long dramatic pause* that was so *pause* freaking *pause* good" out loud. It probably got a little obnoxious to the onlookers at the coffee shop. Sorry, you guys.
In one of my favorite chapters ("To David"), Jamie recalls a story of a time he had to go to an event . He dreads it-- the small talk, the strangers, everything. I read this initially and laughed because I feel like this a lot of the time, too (introverts unite!). But, instead he was met with authentic people talking about things that matter. Afterwards he states:
"And it struck me that this moment had happened inside a gathering that I had feared might be a shallow celebration of folk with a lot of answers. Instead, the moment that meant the most was the one with no answers at all... I am less and less impressed by "impressive" things or people who are presented as having it figured out. I am impressed by people who are honest and kind. I am inspired by moments of vulnerability, moments of confession and compassion, moments where someone makes it clear that they are a person in need of other people and someone else makes it clear that the first person is not alone." (From page 86 in IYFTM)
This, and many other beautiful quotations from the novel (just read it), has consumed my mind the past few days. So, a lot of the following is a reflection of that, it seems.
*Note: this book will make you cry. I have cried many, many tears in response to Jamie's words. But I hope my own words are not from an emotional state, or of angst-y teenager, but from an honest & reflective mind.*
I often get caught up in giving advise to others. I always mean it in a genuine way, and want to help, but I don't think our advise is always needed. And, it is really hard to admit that because we feel like the hero when we give mediocre guidance to others-- it is as if we have saved them or made a change in the world. It's that "do good, feel good" attitude that we so often want to obtain. Yet, in these moments our focus should not be on ourselves, but on the person we are looking at across the table. So, instead of advise, I think love is needed. I think our presence is needed. I think moments of silence are needed. I think meeting someone in their questions & uncertainty is needed. Because, we don't have all the answers at times. And I am learning this to be so true in my life at the moment. Personally, this season of life has been asking far more questions than answers, and is filled to the brim with uncertainty. It is a season that is fleeting, and full of transition. That fact is encouraging to me, yet also fills me with confusion. How do we enjoy and be present in a time of life that is coming to an end? How do we hold on, but not too tight? And, in what ways can we actively pursue peace and hope in this moment?
Maybe you are feeling this today, too. I like to think I am not the only one. I hope, at least. I would be wrong to not completely believe that because I know others are hurting, confused, lost, or in pain. I know that. And I wish I had the answers-- to this season of life for me, and to this season of life for you, whatever that may be. So, I am not going to pretend to be your shrink when my mind is only filled with questions. But, I think there is beauty in that. Better yet, I know so. There is a lot of beauty to be had in these moments because amazing things happen when we meet one another in questions. Walls are broken down. Hope is a possibility. Friendships happen. True love occurs. It is when we are not eager to give Pinterest-worthy advise, but ready to lend a listening ear or a hug when needed (and for a non-touchy-feely person like me, I'm working on the whole hug thing). Ready to tell those we care about that we care about them. With words and actions and a smile. To remind them that they are not alone. And to remind ourselves that we, also, are not alone in these trials. I'm a strong believer that everyone needs these reminders continually, no matter who you are or what stage of life you are in.
I write this because I want to meet you where you are, and I want you to meet me where I am. I write this because I want you to know that this time on earth is temporary, but oh so significant. I write this because I, too, need to hear these words. To believe these words. To live these words.
So, I invite you to do that with me today. To reach out, to listen, to remind yourself that you are special and worthy of love.
Because you so are.