Love and Warrior Siblings

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 

Galatians 6:2 (NRSV)

I thank God for warrior siblings.

Nine years ago, when my mother was working through the aftermath of her divorce from my dad, she was blessed to find a fellowship group of other divorcees to meet with for mutual support. Some of the men and women in the group had experienced their own divorces many years prior to my mother’s, but they still congregated, not only to continue their own healing, but also to encourage those who were just beginning their journey.

Since I was already an adult when the divorce happened, I didn’t experience the type of turmoil that children of broken homes often do, but I was deeply shaken by the situation. Like my mother, though, I too found friends who could relate to my heartache and who drew from memories of their own pain to walk and pray with me through mine.

When I reflect on all of those friendships now, I can’t help but marvel at the special kind of resilience these men and women displayed. With God’s help, they had endured some difficult seasons, seasons that turned their worlds upside down and altered the courses of their lives. God had seen them through the insomnia, worry, guilt, and seemingly endless crying that so often accompanies a family breakdown, and had made them stronger in the end.

But it was not their endurance that made me think of these friends as warrior siblings. Instead, it was their willingness to revisit their pain to help someone else. They rolled up their pants legs and waded back into the grief-filled mire they had already passed through, just to make the crossing a little easier and a little less lonely for others.

Life makes warriors of us when it thrusts us into battles, plunges us into heartbreak, and shoves us to the very brink of personal destruction, but we still manage to endure. We become tough and assume emotional armor to counter the next blows that may come our way. But God makes warrior siblings even stronger. They face all the same things, but maintain the vulnerability to open their hearts and share their darkest memories in solidarity with those who are hurting.

I pray God makes warrior siblings out of all of us who seek to serve Him. For heartache that is behind us, I pray we can move forward while still retaining the memories we need to stay empathetic. For the heartache we face right now, I pray we can trust God to pull us through, while being mindful of the fact that these are the seasons He will one day use to help us help others. If we have ever uttered the prayer, “use me, Lord,” we cannot rightfully spurn the suffering that will one day be our most effective tool for serving others.

Today, on this day when many people celebrate love, but also when many people grieve over love lost or changed through death, separation, or broken relationships, I pray we can learn compassion. After all, this is also the day many of us begin our observance of Lent: a season when we reflect on the ultimate display of empathy and solidarity. This is the season we contemplate the sacrifice of a Lord who took on our very nature, in all its sin and brokenness, and who suffered as we suffer—all out of deepest love.

May His example and presence inspire us to open our hearts to one another.