Tell Me, Know Me

Mentorship comes in many forms. A parent, a teacher, a coach, an older sibling. The more I reflect on the mentor figures throughout my life the more I realize I've kind of been drawn to those relationships as long as I can remember. There are countless grandparent figures; parent figures; big brother/big sister figures; dear friends; and trusted, wise sources of counsel in my life. In the last four years several people have once again taken me under their wings.

One such person was one of my professors, I'll call him Steve (his name is Steve). He and his wife are an interesting couple with accents from the deep deep south that make it seem like their words are stretched from here to Mississippi. From the get go they were inherently interested in the students who would be a part of their life for the next couple of years. And somewhere over the course of my four years I heard him say this:

"Tell me how much you know of the suffering of another man and I'll tell you how much you love him."

That sentence has a lot of truth packed into it.

As I've been contemplating this chapter of my life closing and a new one beginning, this quote has continued to make its way into my head. The transitions that accompany the completion and beginning of life milestones invariably lead us to reflect on the relationships we have made, we've severed, we've let drift, the ones we anticipate making, and the ones we will have forever. How did these unlikely of unlikely friendships begin? Where did they fade? It's fun to reflect back those things and share with one another the awkward first impressions, change of hearts, and seemingly insignificant stories.

Last night I went to bed at 3:00AM. The latest in a LOOOONG time. I had spent a few hours with a friend talking about everything under the sun only to end up at another friends house and five hours later realize that the deepest and darkest parts of our thoughts and heart had been poured out on the floor for each other to know. Naturally and beautifully. When we really get down to it, don't we long to be known?

So there it was staring back at me. Life takes us all different directions. The world is bigger than where we are at and we are called to new challenges, growth, and change outside of what we've always known. Things will never be the same. That's exciting and frightening. And yet, just like the stars are charged with showing up each night, we are charged with showing up for each other. Whether it's cloudy or clear they are there. Whether you're in Wisconsin, Texas, Georgia, Ukraine, Australia, Timbuktu--the stars are there--a phone call or letter away.

True and meaningful friendships rely on the deep knowing of another's soul. Their joys and their suffering, the deepest corners. And to truly know suffering you have to be there too. So it's also walking through the fire, the fire that's yours by default of love. We all want to know that we have others who will be there. Who will be charged with showing up, even without invitation. Because instead of "hey" or "whatcha been up to" they say "tell me", "I'm here to walk until we get there".


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