Reflecting on 5 years…

In celebrating Someone To Tell It To’s anniversary this month, we are moved to reflection about some of the very memorable and meaningful interactions we’ve had these past five years. From the very beginning, listening to others share their most intimate feelings and intense challenges has enabled us to be witness to aspects of the human condition that few people ever get to see. Every day – every single day – fulfilling Someone To Tell It To’s mission has inspired us, given new life to us and new meaning to this ministry. We are incredibly privileged to bear witness to the desires of the human heart.

Our reflections take remind us of the dying man who asked, “Am I going to hell?”

every time we visited with him. He confessed to us that he felt terribly guilty about certain actions he had taken during his life, actions that hurt others more than he could bear. He wanted forgiveness. He needed forgiveness. Since he was a person of faith, we reminded him that we believed in a God of forgiveness, a God who was generous in love and grace. We hoped that we could give him in his last days on earth a measure of peace and reassurance.

We are reminded of the mother who grieves a lost son whose life was all too short, ravaged by the pain of addiction. She would have done anything to have him back. In our conversations with her and our emails to her we tried our best, often feeling inadequate, to convey a message of comfort and solace. We knew that her broken heart would never fully mend. We knew that her shattered life would always have an emptiness that yearned to be filled but that never could.

We think of the family, broken apart by years of betrayal and violence that reached out for help to have their bonds restored again. Their story, complex and tangled. Their attempts at reconciliation thwarted and initially futile. But time and perseverance proved to be a restorative balm. Their commitment to naming the ugly truths and understanding the reasons for their broken relationships moved them to do the hard, hated work they knew they needed to do. Today they have restored those relationships and they are family connected again. The hard work will continue, as reconciliation always does for each of us.

We are astonished by the father who reached out from halfway around the world. He’s lost two children and a father in his still young life. His words to us, both written and spoken are the words of every father who has lost so much. His different culture, his different faith, his different native tongue don’t matter. Grief is grief. Loss is loss. Love is love. No matter where or by whom, these losses hurt and take our very breath away. We listened to him and read his eloquent words crying out when life tears us apart.

We still hear the literal cries of the man whose character was assassinated, which led to the loss of his job and his reputation. Once esteemed as a leader and highly respected in his community, he had it all taken away by those with agendas he didn’t understand. Believing he had come to terms with his losses and the unwelcome confrontations he endured, he was surprised at how intensely the feelings returned unexpectedly. He asked to keep exploring with us what yet needs be discerned – admitting that there is still much more to do and to know before he can reconcile the past. We continue to walk alongside him so that he is not alone in the search.

We long to finally meet the woman with whom we have corresponded for nearly four years. But still she is not ready. Still, there is more to uncover and more for her to come to terms with before she can talk to us in person, face-to-face. A lifetime of feeling shame causes her to hold back, to keep a protective distance. We remind her over and over again that she is loved because she is a child of God. We remind her that what others have done to her don’t define who she is and that God understands the pain she’s lived through. We remind her that no matter how she’s reacted to that pain God reacts to her with compassion and unrelenting love. In our reminders we tell her that we are doing the same that we, too, want to share in offering God’s love. We continue to write. She continues to respond. We continue to offer to meet. She continues to demur. But we continue to hold out hope. When she’s ready, she will agree.

This is what Someone To Tell It To is about. It’s about sharing the good news of peace and reassurance. It’s about showing comfort and solace to those who are in grief. It’s about helping others to do the hard work of restoring broken relationships. It’s about not running away from the anguished cries and the searing losses, but instead hearing them out. It’s about walking alongside while someone strives to reconcile his past. It’s about reminding her of God’s unrelenting grace and unconditional love. It’s about being present in the everyday mire and muck of human life. It’s about reminding everyone we meet that none of us needs to be in any of it alone.