Dinner was over and we were gathered in a make-shift circle in the living room. We had attended this group before, but that time had been right before the holidays and most had been out of town or at work parties, leaving just a few couples available to attend. That time we had attended largely with people we knew through the worship team, people we considered friends. Tonight, however, the room was filled with people, some who I had never met.
The host indicated that it was time to go around the room and share about our week. I snatched my hand away from Rich, pulled out my phone, and typed one word on the screen. A single name that summed up everything that had been on my mind for the week. I showed it to him and gave a look that asked “Yes? No? Can I trust them with this piece of my heart?”
I felt relatively certain that it would be okay. This group had welcomed us even knowing the details of our own story. They had been gracious to us despite our flaws, and I believed that I would see that same grace extended once again.
But behind that voice was another one telling me to keep it to my self. There was a limit to what people could embrace. This time there would be blame. This time there would be shame. This time there would be rejection.
When the woman to my left finished and eyes turned to me, I blurted out what was going on. The words spilled out in an ungainly mess, but they were out.
I held Rich’s hand, half expecting acceptance, half expecting accusation. What I received was the former. Heads nodding, friendly countenances.
They sat with me in that place between rejoicing and mourning – that awkward place that often feels like it needs to be filled with words and encouragement, but usually just needs to be left in silence. They were present in that silence. Present for me, present for Rich, present for the name on my phone.
I often think of trust as a one-sided venture, but they showed me that it is not so. The trust that I had shown them, they showed me as well. Trust that we can share hard things and then wait with the person in the midst of that. Trust that we can give and receive kindness without ulterior motives or hidden fears. Trust that we can engage with one another with honesty and with compassion.
Trust that we can love one another, when we’re friends, and even when we’re strangers.