A couple nights ago, I received a text from my mom. It was late, perhaps almost 11PM, and her text asked, "Are you available to talk about something important?" When I called a few moments later, worried that something was wrong, she said she needed me to get on my computer because she'd just sent me a link to something she wanted me to watch.
But first she told me the story.
On her way to work that morning, she'd pulled out a few old CDs for listening company. Once the above song came on, she said she started to cry, so she immediately turned it off (not wanting to be a puddle of tears by the time she arrived at work!). But on her drive home at the end of the day, she gave the song another try.
"I've heard this song so many times," she said, "but I've never really noticed the second verse. I want you to listen to this song."
So I clicked on the link she had sent, and it took me to the YouTube video posted above. I immediately recognized the band and said, "I own that album!" But I couldn't, just by seeing the song title, recall the song itself until it began to play.
I began listening through the first verse and came to the chorus:
You're holding her hand
You're straining for words
You're trying to make sense of it all
She's desperate for hope
Darkness clouding her view
She's looking to you
Just love her like Jesus
Carry her to him
His yoke is easy
His burden is light
You don't need the answers
To all of life's questions
Just know that he loves her
And stays by her side
Just love her like Jesus
When I heard these words, I began to lose it. I just started weeping right there on the phone. I knew one big reason she had sent me this song . . . it's everything I have shared about wanting to hold Kirsten's hand and just sit with her in her grief . . . and it's everything I have shared about not having words and not knowing at all what to say. Here was the reminder: just love her like Jesus.
Except the story continues.
There was the second verse she had mentioned never noticing before and that she especially wanted me to hear. You'll understand immediately the impact of these words:
The gifts lie in wait
In a room painted blue
The little blessing from heaven
Would be there soon
Hope fades in the night
Blue skies turn to gray
As the little one slips away
As soon as this second verse began, I immediately knew where the story would lead and the tears came harder and faster. I could hardly believe how perfectly this song captured everything inside my heart for my friend and everything just like their experience had been: the bedroom prepared, the gifts waiting there, the little one slipping away in the night before he'd ever been able to come home with them.
My mom said that when the song played in her car, she cried hard tears the whole way home and couldn't stop praying. She said she kept seeing me holding Kirsten's hand and just knowing I needed to be there.
"I'd like to fly you up to see her," she said. "I really think you need to go."
I could hardly believe it, and my immediate response was no. I could not accept such a lavish gift. I could not accept such kindness.
And yet even as I protested, even as I recognized my inability to receive this kindness, I knew I needed to receive it. You see, just a couple days previous, Kirk and I had spent our Sunday morning sitting on our bed listening to a sermon by Dan Allender about suffering the kindness of God. (It's an incredible sermon and totally worth the 45-minute listen!) The sermon talked about the difficulty of receiving lavish gifts . . . of the pride in us that causes us to refuse them, thinking we need to earn our worthiness of them, when all we really need to do is receive.
I could feel that exact same pride rising up in me when my mom offered me this gift. It was a pride that felt unable to receive this utterly free gift of love. I didn't feel worthy. I hadn't done anything to earn it. I just couldn't say yes.
But again, I had a feeling that was exactly why I should. I couldn't stop thinking of that phrase: suffer the kindness.
Plus, my mom also helped me realize this gift wasn't completely about me anyway. "It's not just for you that I want to do this," she said. "It's also for Kirsten, and for James. And also, it's a little bit for me, for wanting to help extend care to them, too, during this very difficult time. This is one way I can help. It's how I most want to help."
It's been such an amazing few days, holding this story in my heart. It still hardly feels real! And even though Kirsten and I have talked and the e-ticket confirmation has shown up in my inbox, it's still so hard to believe.
In just over a week, I'll be seeing my dear, sweet friend. She will meet me at the airport, and I will put my arms around her and not want to ever let go. I will touch her curls, rub her back, hold her hand, and be a physical presence and witness with her in her grief. I will look in her eyes and say, "I'm here. I love you. Whatever you need in these next few days is completely and fully yours."
So, so utterly thankful.
Thank you, Mom. You bless me more than you know. Kirsten and I are so deeply thankful for this gift of time and presence.