After a rough day, a hard test, bad conversation, or annoying fight, what do you need? That’s a question I have asked those I disciple many times before. Sometimes the answer is a quick call; other times, the answer is meeting in person. We ask the question, what do you need, but our availability should never be in question.
It was late one night, and I was hanging around campus. I got a phone call from Natalie asking if I wanted to go for a drive with her and our other friend, Natalie. Minutes later, Natalie picks me up outside of Wanek, and as I open the door, I could hear music blaring! Slightly flustered, I get in and ask what was going on. “We just need to go on a drive,” was the answer I got and the only answer I needed.
Sometimes, after a frustrating day, discipleship looks like getting in the car, driving around, and blasting music. There might be times when they want to sit down and talk. But there also might be times when they want to drive around and sing at the top of their lungs. Both Natalies remember that night as clearly as I do. It wasn’t the deep conversations we had that comes to mind but embracing their emotions. It’s one thing to ride with them, but it’s another to sing with them and laugh with them. My physical presence wasn’t the only thing needed but my emotional presence as well.
Last semester, I was sitting on campus, getting ready to leave for the day, when I received a phone call from Sadie. With a frantic tone in her voice and tears falling from her eyes, she asked where I was and how quickly I could get to her room. It no longer mattered where I was headed after work or how hungry I was, I had an obligation to enter into Sadie’s heartache. I don’t know about you, but there is something sweet about sitting on the floor alongside of someone you’re discipling as you share with them in their hurt.
Emotional availability can be tough, but we must choose to share with those we disciple in their sufferings and in their victories. There is never a time that I regret bearing their burdens and joys. Laughing alongside of them, crying when they cry, or sitting with them in silence is genuine discipleship. Paul tells us in Romans to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Throughout Romans 12, Paul is establishing markers of a true Christian. In the same way the body of Christ cares for one another is the same way we should care for the disciples under our care. Discipleship is both rejoicing and weeping; it is both car rides and good cries. Those we are leading in Christlikeness should be confident in our emotional availability.
The author of Hebrews reminds us of our Great High Priest. We serve a King who not only understands us but also sympathizes with us. Jesus has entered into the depths of our lives before we ever enter into the lives of others. He is present in all of our victories and valleys. The way we come alongside people should reflect how Jesus has done so with us. Those we disciple will know our love for them by how deeply we enter in with them.
-Rilee Blackwell, College Team