Maybe I am more sensitive than most. I can't watch the news. I don't watch most tv shows or movies because they are too upsetting to me. Hearing bad news physically overwhelms me. Truthfully, I am easily overwhelmed by how difficult and painful life is. Not necessarily my life, but life in general. This sensitivity allows me to feel what others feel and sometimes that is a beautiful thing. Often, it is too much to bear.
Several years back, I found myself sitting in church at a memorial service for a good friend's baby who was born too soon. Thinking of it now still overwhelms me to the point of not being able to function well for at least a full day until I recover. The pain and the loss was too much. As I sat there, a lovely woman I knew sat next to me. Not knowing what else to do as I fell apart, I simply asked her to hold my hand through this painful experience. I am not one for much physical affection, but I just needed to feel someone else there... someone who could help me feel strong enough to stay in the room and walk with my friend through this.
Today, I find myself needing another hand to hold. You see, the woman whose hand I held last time is very ill. She has been for awhile now, actually... but not like this. I think that is why I wanted to hold her hand before. I knew how strong she was to keep fighting, to keep hoping, and I needed a little of that to rub off on me.
I'm not really sure what to make of all this illness, all this pain, all this deep sadness that seems to go along with living. I often don't feel strong enough to keep feeling. Most of the time, I find myself wanting to retreat... to hide away from the world so I don't have to feel it all anymore. But I don't think that would leave me much life to live. It turns out there's no separating this pain from the bliss and the joy and the hope that goes along with life as well. You get them all or you get nothing.
And so, today, I need a hand to hold to keep on walking through it all. Someone strong who will let me fall apart for others and feel their pain. Someone who will sit with me quietly while I pull myself back together, put on a brave face, and keep walking.
Pray with me for the sweetest hand holder I know. She is a remarkable woman who could also use a hand to hold right now.