It Helps to Know We’re Not Alone

2 corinthians 1

“I get it.”

That’s what I said to my girl.  She was feeling ashamed, a memory from a mistake held her a little hostage.

It was a simple thing that had overwhelmed her: a new situation, someone giving her instructions she didn’t understand, pressure to make a decision and she did the wrong thing.

It wasn’t that she sinned.  She just messed up.  It was a misunderstanding, an accident.

And it deflated her, embarrassment and shame threatening to suck the joy right out of the whole experience.

Weeks later, any time she thought about that day, she still remembered it:  The MISTAKE.

And she felt all that pressure and all that shame and all that self-criticism beat on her all over again.

So, one day I dipped my head down to hers and slipped my arm around her shoulder and I said, “I get this.”

And I do.  If I’m pressured to make a decision, I will almost always do the wrong thing.  My split-second reactions are foolish, and all that imperfection is embarrassing, crushing even, to a perfection-striving girl like me.

Then I told her what I’ve learned and what I’m learning about how to overcome my decision-making deficiency and the way I can mess up and the way I can get buried in shame.

I felt the tension in her shoulders ease at the sound of my confession.  It never occurred to her that she wasn’t alone.  That maybe others, maybe even her mom, does foolish things sometimes. Or that others have a hard time letting go and getting over past mistakes.

There’s power in knowing someone understands.

And, I take comfort in this also, even though Jesus doesn’t understand what it’s like to sin, He does understand what it’s like to be tempted.  He knows what the accusations of Satan sound like.

When he asks me to endure, be patient, withstand trials or suffering, love my enemies, speak truth, or show love, He gets it.  He has been there.

Eugene Peterson wrote:

“Lord Jesus Christ, how grateful I am that You have entered the arena of suffering and hurt and evil.  If all I had were words spoken from a quiet hillside, I would not have what I needed most — Your victory over the worst, Your presence in time of need.”

Jesus could have preached “Blessed are the merciful and the meek and the pure in heart,” and those messages would have been challenging, beautiful even.

But ultimately, they’d be meaningless pep-talks about morality and character.

He didn’t just make speeches, though.

He showed mercy.

He lived with meekness.

He interceded for those crucifying Him as He labored to breathe on the cross.

He remained pure even as Satan tempted Him in the desert.

Jesus didn’t just say it; He lived it.

That’s why the writer of Hebrews reminds us that:

For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:17-18).

This mercy is our comfort and our joy.

Jesus doesn’t stand aloof and full of judgment, looking down at us for messing up or falling short.

Our merciful High Priest bends down low and helps us overcome.

In the same way, Jesus asks us to do more than just make speeches at people and proclaim truth.  He asks us to live it and then share it.

Paul wrote:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (1 Corinthians 1:3-4).

So, we who have received mercy, offer others the relief of mercy.

“I get it…I don’t always have it together either.”  That’s what we confess.

We don’t pretend everything is perfect; we share the vulnerability of life.

When we’ve walked through cancer, we love others through cancer.  We who have experienced loss, love others through loss.

We comfort the friend, we share in her struggle, in the bad news, in the mistakes, and we pour out generous helpings of grace because God heaped grace on us.

We give others the gift we’ve received ourselves:  Knowing we’re not alone.

What comfort has God given you so that you may comfort others?

5 thoughts on “It Helps to Know We’re Not Alone

  1. dawnlizjones says:

    Mercy is not something our culture is well-versed in. True mercy that builds up instead of props up, mercy that sometimes seems hard at first, but is the best in the long run, the mercy of discipline, as well as the courage of vulnerability to allow someone to see that they are not alone in their struggle, but doesn’t leave them to wallow in it. Thanks for this.

  2. Kim Dean says:

    Love reading your blog! Its always so encouraging! One thing I have learned too over the years is not to keep things from my kids. I have friends who think they should hide everything they ever did from their kids and make them think they lived these perfect lives. Having a married daughter now and a teenage son I believe it helps so much to be honest with them. Let them see and hear straight from us that we too make mistakes and made them in our past. Maybe not every detail and certainly not so they can use it against us but to allow them the privilege to see we have been there and done that and they are not alone! 🙂

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