And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
One of the lessons I'm learning, and I'm still learning it despite working on it daily, is that my relation to others cannot be about fixing problems, and instead must be based on a willingness to be with them as they face these problems. I am not called to take away, only to take part.
Mike and James have both been thinking about this recently, and their posts connected for me in a call to patient, long-suffering love. I'd encourage you to read both posts in full, but here are two sections that struck me:
[Mike] I hear it from parents and nonparents alike, and it seems very strange to me that anyone could look at one these flailing little wads of helpless protohuman charged to our care and say that they don’t understand why they’re so upset. I mean, you don’t have to like it, sure, it’s inconvenient and frustrating and liable to leave you half-deaf in one ear and more than a little heart-rending. But it seems to me that saying you don’t know why your child is upset is mostly about signaling to other adults that you’ve really truly fulfilled your role as a parent as best you can and that the rest of it is the kid’s fault and there’s nothing you can do.
[James] Tragically, however, so many of our friendships and social support are dictated by predetermined expectations: we’ll support you if you make the decisions we think are best for you.
More than anything, these two reflections remind me how inadequate I still am to the task of being with.
Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.