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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

From Rob Bell's new book: Jesus Wants to Save Christians

Writer Anne Lamott says that the most powerful sermon in the world is two words: “Me too”.
Me too.
When you’re struggling,
when you are hurting,
wounded, limping, doubting,
questioning, barely hanging on,
moments away from relapse,
and somebody can identify with you –
someone knows the temptations that are at your door,
somebody has felt the pain that you are feeling,
when someone can look in you in the eyes and say,
“Me too,”
and they actually mean it –
it can save you.
When you aren’t judged,
or lectured,
or looked down upon,
but somebody demonstrates that they get it,
that they know what it’s like,
that you aren’t alone,
that’s “me too.”
Paul does not say, “To the strong I become strong.”
He only says, “To the weak I am weak.”

The way of Jesus is the path of descent. It’s about our death. It’s our willingness to join the world in its suffering, it’s our participation in the new humanity, it’s our weakness calling out to others in their weakness

I'm not actually reading Rob Bell's book. (but I think I want to, because "Velvet Elvis" is awesome). But this quote was in my inbox this afternoon. It struck me for several reasons. The first is obvious- it provocative, it resonates, its compassionate.

But for me.... it had personal meaning. It was timely, and it put words to my very own "me too" experience. Just a few days ago, I opened up one of the ooziest, dark and murky interior spaces and invited humans in. And received a resounding "ME TOO!" in reply.

But not in that useless, let's feel sorry for ourselves because nothing is ever going to change and it sucks type of way. More like the.... Ouch. I know. Here's what I can see that would contribute to the current murk of your state. Here's how I know that you are ten minutes away from relapse, and how that doesn't shock me. How it "makes sense" even when it totally doesn't. How much I love you and how the struggle doesn't actually define you.

Me too.

*just a word of caution though. I am not standing behind the idea of people trying to understand, and trying to identify when they simply have not ever been there. The only thing to do in any case is to be honest. If you can't relate to something painful that someone is walking through, there is nothing wrong with saying; "I can't say I've ever experienced that.... but it sounds like it sucks". That will always beat the ever living snot out of the individual who pretends to have gone through everything, and has a depth of understanding and relatability (yeah, I know that's not a word) about every single calamity known to man and womankind. Its just not wise to say "I know what you mean" when you totally don't. And I'm sure that's not what Ann or Rob are suggesting either. Its totally true though, that when you have someone to turn to who has worn out the exact same pair of shoes that you have... it is a sweet drink of cool water to be totally heard. Especially when there is wisdom to be had in the transaction.

'kay. So, yeah. My point being that "me too" had better be sincere, or I'll have to hunt you down and beat you for your insincerity. 'cuz Paul would be all over that. So would Anne. And Rob.


Heather said...

It never ceases to amaze me when God will allow someone to go through something if only so that later He can bring another who is dealing with that very thing to them and they can totally get it, and encourage them through it. God is awesome.

gloria said...

i think that we have a responsibility one to another in God's family of love and compassion and grace to come beside and encourage those that are in the same depths that we have experienced, even if they don't know we have suffered the same thing. Not so much to tell them what to do or how to act or react as it were (unless you have some sort of fancy letters in front of your name)but just to BE with them, BE human, BE hurting, BE compassionate.

svea said...

words to live by Joyce..... your "me too"s been encouragement to my heart... big hugs to you today

Judy said...

Well, if you came to beat ME up, you would be in the town where Rob Bell preaches.

Here, he seems to be a prophet without honor in his hometown.

My struggle? I can't leave my house. Today, I lept for joy when I had to cancel a doctor's appointment for my dad due to the weather. It's hard to find someone to whom I can say 'me too', when I've spent most of the day talking to an old cat.

Yet, I rejoice for you, my dear friend!