MAYBE THE MOST INTIMATE, radical thing we can do for our friends is to show up. To show up like Jesus did—in person, willing to experience life with the community around Him. Giving our friends the same gift Jesus did—the gift of our presence. To show up and do one of two things—“Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). Cry the ugly cry or celebrate with whooping and hollering and confetti.
The radical thing about prayer is that it can accompany both—both grief and celebration. Jesus models what it looks like to invite God into both. To watch God participate fully, wholly, without holding any part of Himself back from both of these deep and primal emotions. Emotions modeled on the Godhead Himself. Jesus wasn’t imitating us when He wept or rejoiced; instead, we imitate the God in us every time we experience the deep swell of emotions He created to run through our veins and beat in our hearts on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus lived the whole arc of the human emotional spectrum—from weddings to funerals. He announced His public ministry at a wedding (John 2:1–11). Dancing, love, laughter, and passion. And in Jewish culture seven days of unmitigated joy, of food, of family, of telling stories, and of catching up on life and celebrating.
But He also stood outside the tomb of a friend as close as a brother and wept His broken tears alongside friends and strangers, believers and doubters (John 11). Wept with them for the brother who had died. Who had been dead days before He even arrived on the scene. Wept even while knowing He had the power to raise Lazarus. That He would raise Lazarus just moments later. Wept because friendship shares an emotional DNA, and His was tied up with Mary and Martha, and He entered fully into their grief. Their joy was His joy; their sorrow was His sorrow. He carried all of it. He opened His human heart and let it all pour in. He walked into their lives and didn’t hold back feeling the full range of all that they lived and loved and hoped and despaired.
When we’ve run out of words, when we’re beside ourselves with the pain that we’re watching our friends go through, we can follow His example and give them the gift of our presence, our tears, our sorrow.
When we don’t know what to write in that card or note, when we can’t figure out the perfect gift for that promotion or new baby or art show or book release, we can give the thing that’s even better—we can give ourselves. We can give our grinning, applauding delight. We can give till their joy is our joy, and we’re so full of it that it fills up the spaces between us with the Holy Spirit who builds new bridges to the hearts of the people with whom Jesus has trusted us.
This excerpt is taken from Lisa-Jo Baker‘s new book Never Unfriended. Lisa-Jo has been the community manager for www.incourage.me, an online home for women all over the world, for nearly a decade. She is the author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood, and her writings have been syndicated from New Zealand to New York. She lives just outside Washington, DC, with her husband and their three very loud kids, where she connects, encourages, and champions women in person and through her website, lisajobaker.com. She is convinced that the shortest distance between strangers is a shared awkward story, and she’d love to connect with you on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram @lisajobaker.