You never quite know who your people are until things get hard.
When I’ve heard that spoken before, it was by someone who was disappointed and hurt when so-and-so didn’t show up when they were needed most.
In my case, I say that with a heart of gratitude.
Recently I read the book of Philippians and was blown away by Paul’s focus on community. Right from the get-go in his letter he’s proclaiming his love for this community in Philippi: “I thank my God every time I remember you” (1:3).
I have some people in my life like that. Just their name popping up on my phone screen or their face in my thoughts makes me smile. I love my people, the memories we’ve shared, the struggles we’ve been through together.
Speaking of struggles…This week was rough, the roughest I’ve had in a long while. I felt attacked, less then, and stressed out to the nth degree. I didn’t realize just how overwhelmed and hurt I was until the tears poured forth unwarranted. I couldn’t keep them back no matter what I tried, and they came in the most public of places.
They came along with screaming anger as I answered honestly the question I hate most on days like that: “So how are you?”
I laid it all out there with messy tears and an even messier attitude. There’s a part of me that’s ashamed for how I responded to it all. But the reality of my stress and hurt had been building for a while and I finally just exploded.
Yet, in the midst of my mess, my people showed up. They took over for me while I found a private place to cry and smack a wall. They listened and affirmed. They asked me again if I was really okay when I answered with an “I’m fine” and tried to move on. They encouraged me and offered prayer. They empathized. They spoke softly and patiently to calm me down. They were willing to drive two hours in the middle of the work week to physically be there for me. They allowed me to cuddle and just be near them. They helped me do battle with my real enemy. And they reminded me of Jesus–the One who sees me and knows me and fights for me and calls me worth it.
My people were there for me when I needed them, and I “thank God every time I remember them.”
We never know who our people are until hard things happen. Sometimes we’re disappointed by the ones who don’t show up for us. But we’re also blown away by those who care enough to stick around and stick by us through the mess.
Paul had people like that in Barnabas and Timothy and John Mark, and the people of Philippi. Paul cared for Philippi and they cared for him, enough to send financial support and be concerned over his welfare while he was away.
Paul cared enough to write these words:
“[I pray] that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God” (1:9-11).
Words I echo with a grateful heart to my people.
Who are your people? Who are the ones that stick around and ask the hard questions and sit quietly when you just need the gift of someone’s presence? Thank them. Pass on Paul’s words. Let them know how grateful you are for them. Learn to celebrate those people in your life.
Live in His love!
Related: The Importance of Community