Today my sister called me up, obviously on the verge of tears. She has a final tomorrow and she’s worried she’ll fail the class if she doesn’t do well. None of her friends were willing to help her study and now she’s left having to fend for herself before this big exam. It’s a rough situation
As an older sister, I’ve grown accustomed to these types of phone calls. It’s not as though my sister is always on the verge of failing (she’s a really good student), it’s just that when she needs help, I’m generally the first person she calls. It’s been a pretty efficient system so far.
Still, the thing that I’ve realized through these calls is that I can never really help. It’s true. I may say an encouraging word or two but I can never give a solution. I’m hundreds of miles away from my sister; there’s only so much I can do. And yet she keeps calling. Because, what I’ve realized is that she doesn’t want my help, at least not like that. She doesn’t want my cliched advice or my 3 easy steps. She’ll take them when I give them to her, but they aren’t really new or useful. No, what my sister really wants in those instances is shelter from the storm of her life.
She knows I can’t stop the storm, she just wants me to give her cover for a little while. And I do, gladly. But I can’t help but realize how foreign a concept that really is to me. I can’t recall many moments in my life where I’ve had a rough time and so turned to a friend seeking comfort. Of course, I can always turn to God and I always do (eventually). But there’s something else, something different about seeking comfort from another person. God eventually calms the storm – no one else can do that – but that doesn’t mean no one can help us through it.
I guess this post is just me marveling at the vulnerability of my little sister. She’s always willing to ask. She gets her heartbroken a lot, but that rarely stops her from putting herself out there again. I don’t ask though (I also don’t get my heart broken often*). I just try to weather the storm myself and I’m usually successful. I just wonder how much more successful I would be if I allowed myself some shelter in the meantime.
*But it has been wrung a few times. There’s a great C.S. Lewis quote on heartbreak and love:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”