From the basket, another sock. I smooth it a little with my fingers, examining the fabric for those holes in the heel, in the places that bear the brunt of our steps. I have my own gaping holes, I’m thinking, right in carefully hidden spaces, in brutally crushed places, smashed against the road. This sock–bleach white, warm, soft, stretched and now misshapen about the ankle—has seen many, many steps. Some days my legs feel sore from taking them. I don’t see a hole, but I recognize the thinness that precedes unraveling, the spare spots where the threads have begun to separate. Tenderly, my thumb rests against what’s worn. It’ll be okay, for now.
My phone chimes, and I scoop it up, smiling at the recognition of a friend’s name. No doubt she has a thumb on her own spare threads, trying to keep them together.
How can I pray for you this week?
Just that question, weightier than all its words, floats beside her smile. She knows me. She knows that carrying my burdens means shouldering them to the cross, that this sacrifice of time is the one I consider most precious. The idea that she would lay my thinness right over her own hand and draw God’s attention just there, to mend, well, that’s grace. That’s a gift fiercely wrapped in love and power. That’s friendship that would tear the roof off a place.
I put the phone down and reach for another sock, thinking. There are so many things that paralyze me. At the call for prayer requests, I always feel like I’m reaching for some situational list item, some temporary issue significant enough to mention, when the truth is that I have far more chronic afflictions, weak places where the threads have begun to separate–where I won’t hold together unless Christ does the holding; tender, broken spaces that will either become something new in God’s hands or spread into vast holes. I can’t even walk apart from His hands on my shoulders, without Him bent right over me, not simply telling me be well, but making it so Himself as He speaks.
But a friend like this, she knows. She’s already reaching for the edge of the mat to carry me, and without the silly hope that I’ll depend on her for the cure. She knows—I know—that He is the healer and that friendship is placing me right in front of Him.
Finding a match, I fold the socks together, wrapping one over the other like a shield, a chrysalis. I imagine Jesus teaching, His voice carrying over the thick-crowded room, his eyes searching out the faces just barely visible at the door, the ones unable even to set foot inside. He preaches the word to them it says (Mark 2:2)–the logos, the source, the intelligence, and since He is the logos–the Word from the beginning, the Word with God, the Word that is God (John 1:1); since He is the truth (John 14:6), that must mean He teaches them of Himself–His own saving voice entoning the saving words, why maybe it’s worth stuffing into that cramped place, straining to hear. And then the clay above His head breaks apart. First dust, then whole, dirty clumps of the roof hit the floor at His feet. The light from the now partially visible sky glints as He looks up to see, as four sweaty friends dig into the roof, ripping apart the beams, blistering and splintering their supplicating hands just to get their friend to Jesus. That’s friendship, the best of it that ever will be. I feel exceedingly grateful to have such friends.
I toss the socks into the growing pile and scoop up my phone to answer my friend’s grace-ful question, laying my thumbs over the the thinnest parts of me, exposing what Ann Voskamp calls soul amnesia, that is to say, my always forgetting the things I struggle to remember about the living that’s Christ. I tell my friend I’ve gone blind–that I feel led by His fingers against my elbow but I don’t know where I’m going. Please pray I’ll trust Him to be my sight. I don’t just tell her the “list-worthy” things; I tell her the fraying things, the tender truths that take the brunt of the weight when I try to walk. And I am able to confess because I know her—she’s a roof-ripping friend—and because she knows me, and because I have no doubt at all about what she’ll do when she sees I’m starting to unravel.