I was rocked this week when I heard of an acquaintance that took her life this past weekend. Part of the reason it hit so hard was because I saw her post on Facebook just prior to her death:

“Just wanted to say thanks to all my wonderful family & friends for all your love & kindness. I wont be using Facebook anymore so I just felt I should thank each of you for putting up with me when I didn’t deserve it. And for being a far better friend than I could be. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH. I will miss you. Love forever, ________________”

When I read this, I thought, perhaps they aren’t going to have internet anymore or maybe she has discovered that Facebook eats too much of her time, or a myriad of other things, but not even once did I think it was a final goodbye.

How often is this the case? How many people are hurting around us and we have no clue? Underneath their forced smiles is there a depth of pain that we cannot fathom? Are they just waiting for someone who really cares to ask them what’s going on in their life? And are we so busy and unaware that we continue on with our lives, so caught up in our own struggles, big or small, that we don’t even notice?

I hate to admit it, but sometimes, I think that is true of me. I may notice that someone looks down, but how often do I take a moment to go over and give them a hug or a word of encouragement? Sometimes, yes, I do, but every time? No. And as far as those people with whom I only connect “electronically” on a regular basis, how do I even begin to know what is going on with them if I am only stalking their status and not really ever engaging them in conversation?

And how about the reverse? If I am the one feeling down on a particular day, am I quick to seek out someone to share my pain? Not usually. It makes me too vulnerable. To have to admit I don’t have it all together all the time is more than I can do sometimes. Yet, if we want to be able to carry one another’s burdens as the Bible instructs us to do, at some point we have to get authentic with one another. We have to start sharing our stories. We have to start asking, and wanting to really hear the answer to, the hard questions about what we deal with in our lives. We have to start caring more for one another, and less about how people might view us. We have to start reaching out instead of drawing ourselves in.

We have to look for the hurts that are hiding, both just below the surface, as well as deep down. We have to start asking God to help us see those who are hurting with His eyes. And we have to reach out with His hands to bring comfort and healing.

Who are you reaching out to today?