It was a rather public and maybe even scandalous divorce. I remember being so a miffed and hurting for her, for him, and for their little guy. I remember her sharing that while she wasn’t sure getting married again was something she wanted; there was something about having a partner in life to bear witness to her life and her doing the same for them that mattered deeply to her. She got married again 🙂
Her words about bearing witness have stuck with me, years later, moves across country and back later, jobs later, moments after speaking to a friend interviewing for a job and remaindering her that I am cheering her on, that she will be the recipient of prayers, good thoughts, and well wishes today during her journey. Moments after reading a text from another friend who was starting her own professional and scholarly journey, remixing her resume and starting a PhD program application. Moments after skyping with one of my favorite friends back home, sipping our morning beverages, laughing, sighing, breathing, smiling. Moments after reading text from another favorite friend navigating the hurt and bouts helplessness that comes with her living here in the US and so many friends and family members in a country that is being overcome with government greed and corruption. Moments after watching people I care deeply about wade through the loss of a miscarriage. Moments of bearing witness and an immense sense of gratitude to bear witness to their lives and them bearing witness to my own.
Witnesses are present. Observant. Sometimes silent partners in the business of our lives, but their presence, contributions, investment in us matter deeply. They are part of our stories, key characters, but not the authors or even the editors really, although they may serve from time to time as narrators. They are the people in our lives who we can trust to cheer us on, because they show up and witness us in all of our human glory- the glorious failures and the glorious successes.
It’s been very recent, like oh, I don’t know maybe a little over a week now, that I have found myself acutely aware of and grateful for the folks who are witnesses to my life. Hard times will do that for you. Challenges in life will usher the folks who can stand and give an account of us, of our strength, our heartiness, our power, our creativity, capacity, and hope to the forefront of the crime scene tape, the danger zone signage, the chalked outlines of the things that have died- the child, relationship, job, goal, dream, etc.
Witnesses will nod at the well meaning protectors of us, and say “I know her” and “You are forgetting something that can help.” They bend under, step over, mind the shattered pieces, and reach out to us. They aren’t put off by the moments we tremble, our tears, the dirtiness of the situation, the sweat, or the wounds. They draw closer because in moments that we can’t see particularly clearly, they see for us and promise to see with us as we move onward, upward, forward, lingering in case we stumble backwards.
Witnesses believe. They believe us, in us, for us, with us.
As I’ve recently been advocating and wading through a breach of civil rights and discrimination, the witnesses in my life had made all the difference. They have been the ones who’ve believed, who wouldn’t let me give into being gas lighted, sent and served as resources, didn’t sugar coat the uphill battle nor did they let me just roll down the mountain into a valley of despair. They’ve reminded me of who I am and what I’m capable of. They’ve reminded me of whose I am and what He is capable of. They’ve breached the crime scene tape, swept together the broken pieces, assisted in crowd control, photographed the things that died and kept track of the things that are in critical condition but able to make a full recovery. They’ve not shied away from my trembling, swollen, heavy, complicated, wounded self.
My hope this week is that you are reminded of the people who draw close to you and bear witness to your life. Despite the current challenge you face- the loss, the separation, the lay off, the break up, the diagnosis, that you can see through the blurriness of your tears and surpass the shock of your wounds, and see the person or persons in your life who are breaching the black and yellow boundaries yelling “I know her” or “I have something to add to help” and moving towards you. May you welcome the witnesses and may you serve as a witness. May you breach someone else’s roped off situation. May you yell “I know her”, may you add to their lives as they muddle through addressing the situation. May you remind them that you believe them, believe in them, will believe for them, and with them. May you be aware of the people who will show up and be present in your life and may you be and do the same for others (and yourself, you can show up for you too boo). xxoo