Friday, August 7, 2009

Rainy Day People

Not too long ago I read a short piece about a cancer spouse (in case it's not obvious, a cancer spouse is the husband or a wife of a spouse diagnosed with cancer) and how they described what it feels like to be in that position. If you've never been there you don't like to even imagine what it might feel like, and if you have been there this may feel very familiar to you.

In the case of a cancer spouse, there can be a lot of feelings of lonliness, and a sense of isolation in that you may feel like no one understands what you're going through. This feeling is only compounded when well-meaning but frustrated friends and family keep their distance because they either don't know how to help or bring comfort or what to say, so it's easier to just stay away. They often comfort themselves that they're doing this because "they probably just want to be left alone anyway". Quite often for people struggling through a painful time, nothing could be further from reality.

When I read this piece I couldn't help but think about how people act in a more general sense. It doesn't have to be cancer, it can be a job loss or the personal struggles with family relationships, or maybe even some other kind of trial. In general, many people will keep their distance from struggles and trials of other people. Its not that they just don't care, it's that these are difficult things to deal with and most folks aren't too fond of difficult. Folks have their own lives and their own struggles and sometimes that is more than enough for them to deal with, without getting involved in the business of other people. There is some wisdom in this.

While I was reading this article the other day, I couldn't help but think of the song by Gordon Lightfoot called Rainy Day People. Here's the song:

Rainy day people always seem to know when its time to call
Rainy day people dont talk, they just listen till they've heard it all
Rainy day lovers dont lie when they tell ya they've been down like you
Rainy day people dont mind if youre cryin a tear or two
If you get lonely, all you really need is that rainy day love
Rainy day people all know theres no sorrow they cant rise above
Rainy day lovers dont love any others, that would not be kind
Rainy day people all know how it hangs on a piece of mind

Rainy day lovers dont lie when they tell you, they've been down there too
Rainy day people dont mind if youre cryin a tear or two.

Rainy day people always seem to know when youre feeling blue
High stepping strutters who land in the gutters sometimes need one too
Take it or leave it, or try to believe it
If you've been down too long

Rainy day lovers dont hide love inside they just pass it on
Rainy day lovers dont hide love inside they just pass it on

For me, it's pretty hard to hear a message like that (even in a pop song from yesteryear) and not think about what being a Christian is supposed to look like. Being a Christian is supposed to look like Galatians 6:2 which says "Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." Whether intentional or not, Gordon Lightfoot gave a pretty accurate definition of what carrying one another's burdens is supposed to look like. Investing in the lives and the well-being of others means you're tuned in to what's going on with them, and you take the time to listen to them. You've been there too, so you know how much a compassionate ear makes all the difference, and you stand with that person through the hardest of times.

In the Christian community, lonliness and feeling isolated should just never happen, no matter what is going on. Our own lives should never be so busy that we have zero time for those in times of struggle or trials. If you know someone today who needs a compassionate ear, a phone call, a visit or a hug, go and be their rainy day person today, and bless their heart.

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