Losing a loved one is devastating. Losing a loved one around a holiday can destroy your ability to enjoy the festivities for many years to come. Losing a child around the holidays is devastating and it’ll change you and the holiday forever, casting a shadow of darkness that separates you from everyone else and all the joyous celebrations that take place that time of year. Many people exist in that dark and lonely place but unless you know their story, you might get the wrong impression.
If I knew you and you knew me,
If both of us could clearly see,
And with an inner sight divine,
The meaning of your heart and mine,
I’m sure that we would differ less,
And clasp our hands in friendliness;
Our thoughts would pleasantly agree,
If I knew you and you knew me.
– Nixon Waterman
I knew my friend was carrying some deep hurt. I could see it in her eyes. I could feel the sadness surrounding her when she entered the room. I longed to find a way to help her but didn’t even know what was wrong. So I asked the Lord for wisdom.
I prayed and yet I was caught off guard the very next day when she began to vent. For years she had carried this burden but for some reason, on this day, she needed to talk about it. And there I was. She was angry with God and didn’t understand why she had to go through such a painful loss. She’d had all she could take of well-meaning people using faith and the Bible to explain the why’s or offer their condescending “you-should’s” and “you-need-to’s,” as if they actually knew how to soothe the pain in her soul or satisfy that longing in her heart. My spirit was crushed with her sorrow and all I could do was offer the assurance of God’s love and understanding as her eyes filled with tears and she exited the room.
I was stunned. My heart ached and I fought back tears all day and for the next several days as I replayed those five minutes in my mind. They would not leave me alone. I felt compelled to write and the verses literally fell into place as I recalled our conversation. The chorus was my response and the prayer of my heart that day and for many days to follow.
Months later, once I was sure the song would be included on the next album, I shared the news with my friend. She looked pleased and said, “I’ve never had anyone write a song about me before!” Without giving it a second thought I replied,
“It’s not about you, it’s for you!”
She smiled, eyes shining, and we shared a quiet moment of understanding as God reminded me that my life, my gifts and abilities – and my songs – do not exist for my pleasure and enjoyment, but for the benefit of others.
Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for others.
Others, Lord, yes others,
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others
– Charles D. Meigs (1917)