“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” ~Galatians 6:2
“I’ve tried to peer into the core, But could not storm the sorrow, My hollow heart has bled me dry, left me to stray, Another time without a trace, Condemn me now, Send me to hell, For I’m already failing.” ~ Epica, “Storm The Sorrow”
Today I sent my friend a song. Usually he listens to metal, which admittedly is not my thing. I actually don’t mind the music itself – I think some of the guitar riffs are pretty cool – but the screaming instead of singing is definitely not me, and the lyrics are usually so dark and depressing. And the sad part is, dark and depressing fits him. He lives in a rehab hospital with a terminal illness, rarely gets visitors, goes out only a few times per year, is in constant pain, and has a lifetime of anger he’s dealing with. His temper is unstable and unpredictable, the nurses and staff where he lives fear him, and when I visit him the darkness around him is so thick and oppressive it’s almost tangible. I can tell his spirit is just crying out in pain and loneliness, but rejects all things light. He frequently posts about how miserable he is. Meanwhile, he relates to heavy death metal, embraces it, and surrounds himself with it. The Epica lyrics posted above are just a sample of what surrounds him unceasingly all day long. So usually, when he talks about metal or posts a song, I send him something uplifting (a quote or poem or whatever) to counter it. But I have to admit, I have known him for 2.5 years now, pray for him often, and only once ever have been able to see the teeniest chink in the armor of darkness. It breaks my heart.
So today, I sent him a song. It was a metal song, but Christian at the same time. The lyrics acknowledged the darkness and desperation in the world….but in the end it also found hope and beauty. I was hoping the song would reach him in a way I couldn’t seem to – that it would meet him in the darkness, and help lift him just a little bit out of it.
As I sent it, and he responded with more metal links (including the less hopeful Epica song I quoted from), I realized something. I had to meet him in the darkness. I couldn’t send him a song to do it, and I couldn’t pray from afar. I had to meet him there, feel the weight of his spirit’s burden, and help him shoulder it. I had to put my preferences and aversion to death metal aside, my aversion to be constantly stereotyped and insulted due to my Christianity, and I had to go to that place of anger and pain and hate. Firmly anchored in Jesus, I went there. I listened to the songs. I will listen again tomorrow. I believe that he sent me songs that resonated with him emotionally, not just arbitrary ones. And so I’ll go where he is emotionally, and I’ll listen. I’ll go where he is, and I’ll talk to him there. I’ll take that darkness, and I won’t try to counter it (I’ll trust Jesus to do that), but I’ll simply help carry it.
Why? Because love is bigger than my own personal preferences. Love is bigger than my sense of judgement. Love means loving someone as they are, not injecting them with the person you think they should be. Love is kind. Kindness doesn’t mean judging someone or changing them. Kindness, true godly kindness, knows no such boundaries or qualifications. Kindness doesn’t merely stand back and point out ‘the right way’. Kindness isn’t afraid to get dirty and physically pull someone out. Think of it this way: you’re stuck in quicksand, and sinking. Possibly to your death (hey, many a movie star has gone before you). The more you struggle, and the more desperate you become, the more you sink. You are stuck and desperate. Two people come along. One stands back and points to where there’s no more quicksand – that’s where you have to go. The other comes along with rope, and goes down to reach you, to help pull you out. Which person was unconditionally kind? Which person was only kind enough as their self-preservation would allow?
Today, while it only came in the form of a few songs, Jesus told me that He is my rope, and that I have to go into the quicksand with my friend in order to help him climb out. I need to see, as do we all, beyond my sense of self-preservation. I need to love with Jesus’ heart. I can trust Him to move and do the rest, and I can find solace in the fact that I serve a God who casts light on the darkness.