I am driving my husband’s Jeep today. One of my favorite things about driving the Jeep is the wave…each Jeep heading my way causes me to prepare. Hands on the wheel. Fingers ready. Glancing to see if the driver is looking…and Jeep wave!
Woohoo! Most of the time, the other drive waves, or at least does that hip-cool one-or-two-finger raised kind of wave.
I am in the club.
Actually, a friend who has a coffee shop is having a Jeep rally today and I wish I could be there. Literally hundreds of folks showing up just because they all have Jeeps. To wave and acknowledge they are all in the club.
It got me thinking, though. What if we could recognize something in the folks we see through the day, what if we could see we are in a club of a different sort?
That weary looking woman you just passed on the interstate…she is coming back from visiting a parent in the nursing home. She is heartbroken because she can no longer care for them at home. The other person dealing with a diagnosis of cancer or some other illness. The parent who is dealing with a seriously sick child…what if you could see at a glance they had something in common with you. And you could give them a quick wave, a quick raise of your fingers to acknowledge you are in it too, that you understand.
Or maybe not even so dramatic. Maybe just that mom in the grocery line with the not-so-healthy food who is just worn out and could not come up with a meal plan for the night and is doing her best, but feeling overwhelmed. Yep, I think all of us moms could wave to her at some point.
Or maybe the young man who is about to enter college and wondering how he will measure up and if he is ready. Anyone waving to him? Or the young girl who is hoping she is pretty enough and smart enough. Yep, we can go on and on and on in the list, and there are countless ways we can relate.
Here’s the thing. We are all broken. We are all insecure. We are all overwhelmed and a bit fearful at times, just as we are all confident and joyful and filled with wonder at other times. We are all in this club of being human. How great would it be, though, if in that moment when things look a little fearsome if someone caught your eye and waved.
I see you. I relate. I’m overwhelmed too…but hang in there. There’s hope.
Maybe it is a little bit of this….not just acting as though all is well.
Allowing a little of our struggle to leak through sometimes. I’m reading Hannah Coulter from Wendell Berry right now and this caught me today, as she talked about people answering “fine” when they are asked how they are in a community walking through grief during the war…
“There is always some shame and fear in this, I think, shame for the terrible selfishness and loneliness of grief, and fear of the difference between your grief and anybody else’s. But this is a kind of courtesy too and a kind of honesty, an unwillingness to act as if loss and grief and suffering are extraordinary. And there is something else: an honoring of the solitude in which the grief you have to bear will have to be borne. Should you fall on your neighbor’s shoulder and weep in the midst of work? Should you go to the store with tears on your face? No. You are fine.
(Here’s the key part…pay attention…)
“And yet the comfort somehow gets passed around: a few words that are never forgotten, a note in the mail, a look, a touch, a pat, a hug, a kind of waiting with, a kind of standing by, to the end. Once in a while we hear it sung out in a hymn, when every throat seems suddenly widened with love and a common longing:
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.”
Loss and grief and suffering are not extraordinary, but that does not mean they are an easy burden. We do often bear them in solitude, but how deep is the consolation when a hand of understanding is placed on your shoulder? I have had moments when the floodgates are open and tears come flowing just because someone asked a question.
There is so much burden around us these days. There is joy, and I like to focus more on the joy. I post lots of pictures of my kids smiling and laughing and enjoying life on Instagram…and it is not fake. We enjoy life. But there is burden and there is grief. And there are days that someone simply waving from a Jeep can make me feel more human and less alone.
Tomorrow most of us will fellowship somewhere with other believers. Look around. Catch someone’s eye. Wave. Remind them that they are not alone, that we are in this club of life together and that we all bear griefs and sufferings and burdens in solitude, but that comfort can get passed around. We don’t even have to know the details. Maybe when we are a little more honest that the burdens are there, we can sing with a little more longing for the day all the burdens will be lifted.