There’s a story I once heard, a story of a man.
Jacob was a good man, a kind man; all the people in the town would bring their animals to him and he would tend to the sicknesses. One day, Jacob heard a knock on his door, and when he went to answer it, all he saw was a wrapped up large package on his doorway. Jacob looked out to the trees and nodded his head in acknowledgment and gratitude, for it was not an uncommon experience for him. Often people would leave gifts after he had healed their livestock, horses, dogs. He was fairly certain that this gift came from Aaron, whose cow he had spent the last weeks with. Jacob picked up the package –it was quite heavy–and carried it into his home.
Jacob’s whole family gathered round him to see what this gift was. As he unwrapped the brown butcher paper from the gift, they saw that it was a mirror. Now, Jacob and his family lived in a time and a place where mirrors were not common. In fact, nobody in Jacob’s family had seen a mirror before. Jacob stepped forward and looked into the mirror, and as he did, his wife smiled deeply, for she knew that for the first time, he was seeing the man that she loved, the man who provided for their family, who was so kind and generous with all in their community. And she smiled.
Then, Jacob motioned her forward, and as she stepped up to look into a mirror for the first time ever, Jacob smiled. He smiled, for he knew that she would see the beautiful woman he had married all those years ago, the mother of his children, the woman who created a home for them all to live in. Jacob held all this in his eyes, and he smiled.
One by one, the children stepped forward, and each one was as their parents. Until the youngest, Hannah, who was only 5 stepped forward. As Hannah stepped forward the family grew hushed, for earlier that year, Hannah had fallen off a horse and her face had been trampled on by its hooves. Hannah’s injury wasn’t serious, and it had mostly healed, but it had left her face very disfigured. And so the family grew silent, for they knew that as she stepped up to the mirror, Hannah would, for the first time, see her face and its injury.
Hannah stepped forward and looked into the mirror.
She caught her breath, and tears streaming down her face, she looked up at her parents and she said, “Mother, how could you love me, with my face, so…” her words lost in the tears.
Without missing a beat, Jacob’s wife reached out and pulled her daughter close into a hug and said, “How could I not? You are mine.”
I heard this story years ago; at the time, it spoke to a family relationship in my own life. It spoke to pain in a cracked relationship. And then, I experienced my own version of this story, and it became a story of hope and a story of love. I got it, deep down…but that is a story for another day.
Today, I talked with one of my dearest, oldest friends and I said to her, “I need help. I need you to listen to these experiences; it’s a lot and I just need you to witness what I share. I think I need to share it all and just have it heard so that it can be released from my life.”
It felt big. I felt vulnerable. I was scared: I’ve known this woman my whole life, yet I felt like I was asking her to climb Mt Everest with me. There was silence.
I jokingly asked, “Is that a ‘yes’? Or a ‘let me think about it’? Or a ‘you’re out of your mind’? Or none of the above?”
The 10 seconds where I waited for her answer were some of the longest seconds I’ve experienced.
Her response? “Of course!”
“Really?” I asked, unbelievingly.
Her answer: “If you need it to heal, how could I say no?”
And that is what love, vulnerability, courage, listening to stories, and connecting, are all about. In the vulnerability, the courage, and the connecting, transformation is possible.
Go. Listen to someone. Share with someone.