We passed in the hallway and chatted for a few minutes. Something in her tone ushered me to take it a step further. “Let’s get coffee sometime,” I spontaneously offered.
But let’s be honest, how often do we extend a casual invitation and never follow through?
Now, take a deep breath. Grace on. Guilt off. I’m sheepishly raising my hand right alongside you. These phrases, “How are you? Let’s catch up. I’d love to get together,” have become synonymous with a simple hand wave American greeting. We toss them out like confetti yet we don’t wait for the answer. Typically our heart’s intent is good, but I’m the Queen of Best Intentions. I intend to send the text and invite her over. I intend to follow through. But so often the “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s” create obstacles.
In the past years, I’ve made a change. A deep down, Holy Spirit conviction type of change. Now, when I hear those phrases roll off my tongue (or onto a text), I follow through. Simply typing this stirs up accountability fighting words in me because I know how easy it is to just offer a few sentiments in passing. Throwing up a heartfelt story with Bible verses on Facebook comes naturally. But following up on a “let’s get coffee sometime” invitation when no one is watching or when it’s inconvenient? That’s when our “Jesus with skin on” steps of love reflect the heart of the gospel.
We’ve spent too much time in the last two years being lonely, isolated, and doubting how to move forward. My desire is to be part of the solution — to offer others the same relentless pursuit that Jesus offers me.
A few weeks after our hallway greeting, the woman sat in my kitchen with tears rolling down her face.
“No one knows all that’s happening with me. I took a leave of absence from work due to severe panic attacks, and I haven’t left my house in weeks. Even when I woke up this morning, my heart battled at the thought of coming here since I don’t really know you. I needed and wanted to come, but I was paralyzed. My mind kept telling me not to go.”
Inside an hour, our relationship quickly moved from “Hi, how are you?” acquaintances to sisters, with hearts woven into a kinship known only through a shared story of struggle.
“This is the first time I’ve felt a sense of joy and anticipation in a long time. I need community and I want friends, but I’ve been so afraid to put myself out there because sometimes the rejection isn’t worth it. When you followed through on your invitation for coffee, I started to cry.”
I sat stunned. How had I so misjudged her? She seemed to have so much together. But I empathized. I understood. Rejection sometimes doesn’t feel worth the effort. Lately, I have reached out weekly to one of my besties, but no matter how hard I pursue her, she doesn’t make time for our friendship. It feels personal.
Listening now to my new friend’s fragile heart, instantly, the problem solver in me started brainstorming ways to comfort her. What are the perfect words to steward the trust she’s given me? I was at a loss. Yet in those next moments, the Holy Spirit reminded me that He was the only master healer to remedy her aching heart, our aching hearts, but if I was willing, He’d use me.
Galatians 6:2 tell us to, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
The Greek root for ‘bear’ means “to lift, literally or figuratively (endure, declare, sustain, receive, etc.) – bear, carry, take up.” The Greek root for ‘burden” in this verse means “weight.”
So many are carrying heavy loads in their personal lives. But I could help one precious woman sitting in my kitchen to lift some weight, to bear her burden, and by doing so fulfill the law through love. I often overthink what this actually means. I am a word girl and there in my kitchen, I kept pondering a mini devotional I could share; but I knew the best I had to offer her right then was to simply be present.
Often showing up with our focused ministry of presence is enough. Sometimes the people before us just need us to be silent. To pour another cup of coffee and dish out the brownie and sit with them in their time of need.
To think that I almost missed this sacred time. I almost didn’t follow through because it was just a one-sentence invite in passing and no one really means those, do they?
I do. Now.
Won’t you join me in baby steps of follow-through? Send the text. Make the call. Sit with her. Introduce yourself to the neighbors. Apologize. They all matter. And in doing so Scripture declares that we fulfill the law of Christ.