A visitor came to my door-a stranger, his face and purpose unknown and he asked of me to come in and stay for a while.
Reluctant, I tried to refuse him, for his unannounced visit seemed dangerous to invite inside. But as I pushed the door closed, he slipped his hand between our life and his and he begged me not to shut him out. There he said to me, “I may seem a stranger now because we’ve never met face to face, but I’ve been here all along, from your earliest days of joy, you just didn’t know it. But now I’m asking you to allow me in, allow me the place designated for me. I had permission to come from One who knows better than you or I.”
So I opened the door and showed him in, seeing him more closely and clearly now as I eyed him up. I studied his gait and his way…he wasn’t what he appeared to be when I saw him from the inside looking out. From here he was somehow heartbreaking and intriguing all at once, filling up my space in the most unexpected manner. He shared his name, which I had never heard and offered his hand. As he reached for mine in his awkward confidence, all I could do was stare at his invitation, ready and waiting for mine. He seemed unaffected by my hesitation, determined to receive my open hand in return, but I said I wasn’t ready yet. I needed to understand why he was here. “Have a seat”, I said. And he took a place that seemed to be waiting for him, though I never missed his absence before and even now, I wished him on his way, leaving me to go back to my normal. But I left him there to do what he must.
It became too much to stare him in the face, so I went about my business wondering if he would go if I simply ignored that he was there. I tried stepping over him as I walked through my routine, but his presence was overwhelming and begged me to confront it. Each way I turned, he seemed to be waiting, changing the direction I was headed. Frustration began to rise to the top and spill over and eventually I couldn’t help but cry out to him, “I never planned on you coming! Why are you here?!” He humbly looked down, as if to wait for me to realize he couldn’t and wouldn’t be leaving…
Exhausted I relented and stopped trying to remove him or pray him away.Though it was never my idea to invite him here, I began to respect him and give him his position. A new question became my effort and I began asking “What will you teach me if I consent to letting you have your place here?”
His answer has been long and curious, but it involves a joy I couldn’t have heard elsewhere, the kind that comes after seeing the flip side called pain…the kind that showed up unannounced on the doorstep of my plans, asking me to make room. He offered me wisdom that couldn’t be conjured up or manufactured because it was refined in the hands of hardship. He showed me gifts set aside for me from the One who allowed him to come and delivered grace I wouldn’t have known if I’d feared him or ignored that he was there.
A visitor came to my door and he lives with us still. He is what he is, but also a little more. His time with us needed our acceptance or life would be very uncomfortable and not nearly as full. Why he came I only know in part, but one day I’ll know in full. In the meantime, he’s here, and I’ve opened my home, shaking hands with an unforeseen visitor whose now part of the shaping of me, of us, of this surprising story that’s ever unfolding.
(I’ve been thinking about pain and how sometimes it deserves a place. Deserves respect.
This is about our unexpected visitor who came in the form of a diagnosis, which may have been difficult at first, but I’ve learned that I can let it “be”. Let it teach, let it abide with us. It’s helped me heal.)
(Photo credit, Lindsay McIntire)