Be Authentic About Your Work
One Sunday morning while attending a church in the suburbs of Boston, I had a surprisingly authentic moment with a complete stranger. It was that point early in the service when we turn to the person next to us, introduce ourselves, say hello, and try to be a little friendly.
So on this particular Sunday I turned to the woman sitting next to me, and I immediately recognized her. She was a local rock star in the Boston area. I had heard her on the radio a few times, and I told her that I knew of her music.
She thought that was cool.
"So how are you doing?” I asked kind of casually. We only had two minutes before the pastor would tell us to sit down, and I wasn’t trying to be nosy. But I’ll never forget her response.
Rather than glamorizing her life as a well-known, critically acclaimed musician, she looked me squarely in the eyes. “I’m a single mother trying to make a living as a musician,” she said.
We stood there in silence while the white noise of the congregation’s trite exchanges swirled around us like an audible blur. Then, she said, "Really, I’m just hanging on by the hem of His garment."
That sounded so beautiful and sad at the same time. I pictured this woman with her guitar strapped over her shoulder, one arm reaching up, hanging on for dear life to the hem of Jesus’ robe as he floats randomly through the sky, her other arm pulling along her little girl who is gripping Mom’s wrist with both hands, desperately hoping that she doesn’t slip off. I wanted to help her somehow.
Maybe she was thinking about the story of the woman in the gospel who was suffering from a bleeding condition for all those years. You can read it in Matthew 5. She pushed her way through a huge crowd to touch Jesus’ robe because she knew he could heal her.
Imagine this. Jesus is walking down the street, mobbed by people all around him, like chaotic paparazzi following his every move. This woman keeps pushing, persisting, getting bruised from being kicked and shoved as she presses through the crowd. Finally she gets close enough and desperately grabs out for him.
And then Jesus says, "Who touched me?"
The disciples are trying to be good bodyguards, and they say, "What are you talking about? Everyone touched you! You’re in a huge mosh pit of people trying to get a piece of you!"
But Jesus knew some kind of power went out of him. He stops walking. He turns around. Everyone stops. What is he doing? Something is going to happen. He sees the woman, focuses on her, and tells her she’s healed.
The woman sitting next to me in church that morning just wanted the same attention. She wanted to push through the crowds, the noise, the pressures, and have Jesus pick her out. She desperately wanted him to see her pain, to notice her cries, to stop the bleeding. She’s hanging on by the hem of his garment.
And it’s a beautiful way to describe the chaos, the pressures, the barely-making-ends-meet periods we all go through in life. We question how we got here, how it all ended up like this. We plead with Jesus to save us from these wretched conditions, and sometimes it seems like he is walking past us or floating away, randomly pushed along by the masses of needs in the world other than our own. But we reach out to grab him—and all we catch is the hem of his garment. We clutch on to it for dear life and won’t let go until he takes notice.
This woman’s act of transparency gave me permission to tell her that I was struggling too. We all are. I have grown to appreciate people who are not afraid to be raw and realistic about the challenges and disappointments they are experiencing. Their openness gives others permission to be real and transparent too.
I don’t know how else we can expect to develop true relationships.