I relished the silence.
On this particular day, business in Braverly was slow. A few customers trickled in and left with drinks to go which meant my only distraction was the smell of freshly baked bread coming from the kitchen. Outside, thunder rumbled in the distance and dark clouds blanketed the sky. Rainy season was upon us, so we were always prepared for a downpour. While the weather swirled and tried to make up its mind about releasing buckets of rain, I took advantage of the silence, the peace.
But on this day, my plans were interrupted when one of our Braverly women pulled up a chair next to mine, and I was reminded that some distractions aren’t what they seem. Some are actually friendships and conversations and moments together.
This day wasn’t one to relish the silence. It was a day to relish relationship.
My friend and I talked about home–about Burma, about America. We talked about our siblings and told stories of our families–about the dumb things we did together, about memories we shared with them. She told me about her family spread across on three continents—Asia, North America, and Australia. Her eyes filled with a kind of longing I’ve come to recognize. I see it when I talk with my team about our family and friends in the States. I see it when I talk to our women about their family across the world. It’s a longing for home, for family, for the familiar.
On this day, I simply sat and listened and asked questions. I learned about her mother who died when she was a baby, about her grandma who helped raise her. Tears swam in her eyes when she told me how much she wanted to see her mom—even just a picture of her. As it was, no one had a single snapshot, and I thought about what it must feel like to ache so deeply. I thought about what it must feel like to lose my mom as a two month old baby. I thought about what it must feel like to wonder what my mom was like, what she looked like, if we had the same eyes or the same smile. And I ached with my friend.
Then she said such a simple, heart-aching sentence, “It’s so hard to be away from family.”
On that day, my friend wasn’t looking for someone who had all the answers or who would tell her that everything was going to be ok. She was looking for someone who would empathize with her. She needed someone who would look into her tear-filled eyes, unafraid of the raw emotion and say something along the lines of, “I get it. I feel that too. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to wonder the way you do about your mom, but I feel an ache in my heart when I think about my mom too. I miss her. I’m there with you.”
More and more, I’m convinced that these are some of the most valuable, most meaningful moments we can share with one another. They come when we are least expecting it—like when we’re grateful for a distraction-free environment to get work done.
Around us, people are dying to feel seen, valued, loved, and known. They are dying to know that others care about them enough to pause the important work they’re doing to simply sit and be with them.
I didn’t offer my friend some kind of life-altering truth that day. This wasn’t the conversation for that. It was the conversation to remind her that I see her. I know her. I love her. I value her. It was the conversation to honor her story and her history. It was the conversation to remind myself that this—these moments, these conversations, these opportunities—are ways we get to build the Kingdom of God.
So here’s what I want you to do. I want you to call a friend. I want you to go out for coffee. I want you to sit down, to listen, to ask good questions. I want you to remind the people in your life that you see them, you know them, you value them, and you love them. I want you to honor them—their story, their family, their joys, and their pains. And I want you to say those beautiful, kind words. “I get it. I’ve been there too, and I’m with you now.”
Because sometimes these are the best ways we can love those around us.