Among the maxims of basic scuba training is “Never dive alone.” Wise divers go with a “buddy” to both share the fun and to be able to help each other in case of emergencies like equipment failure. Every diver typically carries more than one mouthpiece but in a pinch, divers can share a mouthpiece off the same tank while making an emergency ascent. It’s up to each buddy to watch the other and to intervene if needed. If wide eyes and flailing arms aren’t enough notice, a dive knife beating on a metal tank will quickly bring a good buddy near with air and support.
Unlike distressed divers we are not so good at letting others see our need for help. It is worth saying again to those starting to flail and at risk of drowning, “you are not alone.” Please find your trusted buddies and make some noise…ask for help.
On the other hand, bearing each other’s burdens is a burden. Authentic relationships leading to life-giving community take work and sacrifice. It hurts to love hurting people. How can we put our holiday smiles on and ignore this? From Adam’s shame to the final martyr’s last ragged gasp we are a people bound for pain until the King returns. But at the crux of time, God entered and embraced human pain by way of a crying, needy baby, and He left by way of humiliation and agony. With a new definition of love, He left the Church behind to lay down her own life and continue the friendly, sacrificial work of binding, healing, and building up.
So like a good dive buddy, stay close and watch. Cultivate an atmosphere of safety for hurting people. Stay close when there are tears, unpredictable emotions, and raw grief or pain. Listen hard, remain flexible, and withhold judgment, but stand ready with sturdy truth wrapped in a warm blanket of love. Allow the quiet when there’s no need for words. Ask and do not assume. Good buddies don’t wait when they see distress. They are there with life and comfort, a steady and sure supply they receive themselves from the God of all comfort. They are there with arms ready to bear another slowly upward until breath comes easily again in the open, clear air.
Written for Exodus Church By David Kneen