13 days ago Florida got cold. On the first chilly night, my daughter brought her 2 bunnies from the outside hutch into our home for protection from the weather. She created a makeshift cage in her bathroom.
When we checked on them the next morning, Peyton Manning was sprawled in a corner totally relaxed, while the other bunny was frantic. She was hopping circles around the bathroom completely out of control.
As I put this crazy bunny back into her outdoor hutch, I immediately understood her unsettledness. Just before we had brought her inside, she had given birth to a litter of bunnies. These babies had been cold and alone all night hidden underneath a nest of mama’s freshly plucked white fur. Her erratic behavior was simply her determination to get back to her kits.
She had no desire to be held or removed from the hutch. In fact, mama bunny just wanted to be left alone.
We rigged a landscaping spotlight to add warmth to the bottom of the hutch…which worked great until last night when the hutch caught on fire.
The section where the babies had nested was a pile of ashes. The wooden floor was gone. A portion of the hutch with a chicken-wired floor remained intact, and on it were 4 displaced babies and a freaked out mama.
I spent this morning in the warmth of my kitchen checking each of the babies. Their fur smelled of smoke, an odor certain to linger for days to come. When I picked up the usually frigid mama to check her sizzled fur for deeper burns, she hid in the nook of my arm. For the first time since we got her, she fell asleep against my chest. She was exhausted from her night and embraced the security of my arms. Mama bunny finally wanted my comfort.
I spent an hour with her like this grateful I had tried one more time to comfort her. In this moment, I understood it is the same with us.
There are people in our life who are hard to love. They emotionally shut us out or push us away with harsh words because it feels easier to tackle the fires of their life alone. We think it is about us and so we retreat, but it is so often not.
They put up a hardened exterior to protect themselves. It might come across as abrasive or feel like personal rejection.
This is NOT an easy relationship… so we focus our gaze elsewhere.
I am not getting what I need from this person… and so we leave.
Have we conditioned ourselves to be drawn only to the easily lovable people in our life? The ones that are both fun to be around and authentic with where they are at? We need those relationships to refresh our souls but it can’t stop there.
I have been in that place of despair where friendships have struggled because I had nothing to give. What sustained me were those few people that continued to show up. They were loyal in my brokenness. They loved me despite my ugliness. They wanted nothing from me.
I didn’t share my struggles…or my sadness…or my pain because, at that time, I didn’t know how. I was just trying to get through lunch.
As the fires of that season in my life went out, my perspective on people changed. I understood brokenness needs to be met with compassion, and ugliness with love.
I knew I wanted to embrace others exactly where they were at…requiring nothing in return because that is the gift I had been given…God’s relentless love extended to me through people.
People who are hurting feel your love even if they don’t accept it right away. If they snap, seem insensitive, or miss your birthday, show a little grace. Keep showing up. Keep loving them. Be drawn to their hidden vulnerability because we absolutely need each other. The fires of life were not meant to be fought alone.
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