This article was originally printed in the Journal Gazette on October 6, 2007.
I was running at the Y when I saw her sitting on a bench, her face in a towel. At first I thought maybe she was just catching her breath, but as I got closer I saw her shoulders and knew she was sobbing. I looked around to see whether anyone she knew would come upon her, but she appeared to be alone.
As I got closer, I felt I should do something. Not being assured of what that was, I simply sat down next to her. She continued to sob, catching her breath, then sobbing some more, her face held in the towel.
Now what? I thought.
Awkward. Was my next thought.
Then Job’s friends came to my mind. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him because his suffering was so great. Job 2:13
Knowing I had no words, I put my head down and began to pray silently for her. We sat like that for quite awhile, then finally she lifted her tear-streaked face and looked at me. I said, I’ll pray for you as I run, unless there is something else I can do for you now. She looked at me, extreme pain evident in her eyes and asked me searchingly, “Do you know me?”
Do you know me? I said No. But I was thinking, in a way the answer could have been yes. I have known sorrow so deep that I could not lift my face. I have sat alone.
She didn’t know that I was listening to the Newsboys song, Go and that as she came into view the lyrics being pushed through my earbuds were Everybody needs somebody’s shoulder to cry on, are you gonna lend a hand and assist? Someones needing a friend, I’m gonna send you.
I listened as she began to talk; she had recently moved here and was wondering where she fit, or more importantly…even if she fit. She wondered where she belonged.
Her question, Do you know me, has made its way deep into my soul today and I am wondering why. I believe we all long to be known. Do you recognize me? Am I needed? Accepted? If I didn’t show up would anyone even notice…or care? Do I matter? Do I make a difference?
How do we let each other know the answers to these questions? They are significant questions and quite frankly we’re all a little busy getting our stuff done. And if I’m being honest, when behind on projects and To Do lists, I’m not sure I feel like I can make the time investment it could take to let you know that: Yes, you matter. Yes, you are needed. Yes, you make a difference.
But if I keep my head down (like I sometimes do) in order to stay on track and avoid uncomfortable encounters, than I have missed it as a Christian. When I said Yes to Jesus then I also said Send me, and I am learning sometimes He really does say Go.
Its not always comfortable. Sometimes I say no. Sometimes I say later. But it is when I follow the promptings of my heart that I am reminded of Proverbs 3:27 Do not withhold good from those whom it is due when it is within your power to act. Do not say…come back tomorrow…when you already have it with you.
Think of the difference we would make if we all made even small efforts to let those around us (those we know, and those we do not) that we notice, that we care, that they belong. Are we going to lend a hand and assist?
Today, if you have it within you to act…then do.
Click here to read Fast Forward Three Years, an update to this article.