Tonight at a weekly mom’s gathering, one of my Ishinomaki friends broke down and cried for he first time with us. I love O. san – she is always cheerful, smiling, and incredibly helpful. She has a son in Annie’s class and a daughter in Olivia’s kindergarten, and she has learned to call me whenever there is some announcement that I have may have missed or something special that our kids are supposed to take that day. She has become an amazing friend!
O san’s dad died in the tsunami while saving the lives of his family. We have talked about it a few different times, but tonight was different. Something broke inside her, and she ended up telling us how she has to be strong for her children, strong for her husband, for her mom, for her mother-in-law, who has been living with them. So there is no space in there to cry or be weak. She always smiles. But tonight was different. The tears didn’t stop. We cried together, and prayed, and talked abut how God comes and enters our weakness. I read 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 – I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means for “God’s power to be perfected in my weakness.” Strength is such an important thing in this culture.
And in this discussion, my friend Y. shared how she has been learning to be weak. She was taught growing up that to cry is a sin. And then she began to experience daily life with Be One…. and if crying is a sin then we are a really bad lot! Y. shared how she has been learning that there is a beauty that comes from being weak. Tonight, she cried in front of her son, who was lost coming home from school. We were all worried, and when he showed up several of us cried. She said up until recently she would have never shown him her tears. But she knows it’s ok now.
And what’s funny- we talked again about whales. My friend Michiko talked about the analogy I had used a few months ago about how Christians need to be like whales, who carry the sick and the weak on their back until they are able to swim again on their own. Michiko saw a nature special on whales, which confirmed that this is true. And she said that when killer whales try and attack the other species of smaller whales, in particular trying to catch the baby whales, all of the species will come together to help fight off the killer whales. They don’t care who’s baby it is – they work together.
And Yuko said, “That’s like the Christians in Ishinomaki. My family has been watching all the volunteers come and go this past year. But the Christians are the whales. They don’t care who is benefiting from their goodness. There are no strings attached. The other religions who came to help out — they would only help those who believed like them, and then would keep the best for themselves. But we watched, and the Christians have done it differently. They work together, just like the whales.”
How thankful I am that even in the midst of weakness and imperfection, that Jesus is shining forth here! Sometimes we only see the darkness. But He is at work – people are noticing and changing. Tonight was a really sweet Christmas blessing.