I keep posted in my office a note from my husband that includes two phrases: “It’s not about you. Accompany them.”
I first discovered this note a few months back taped to my computer screen minutes before I began facilitating a virtual retreat. These six words nestled in a note of love and encouragement reminded me then and remind me now of the posture I am invited to hold, the posture of accompaniment. That is the posture of coming alongside someone. It feels like a shoulder-to-shoulder stance of walking together for a little while. It is the posture Jesus models for us throughout the Gospels, such as when he comes alongside the man who was blind on the road to Jericho, the woman crippled for 18 years, or the woman suffering with hemorrhages. We see in his model how important it is to pause, to notice the other person, and to receive with love that person’s story. In this accompanied space between Jesus and the person, a life-changing encounter happens. Jesus’ accompaniment makes the invisible God visible to those he meets.
We are invited to accompany others as Jesus did. We, too, are invited to come alongside people, whether that is in some sort of formal ministry or in the everyday roles of our lives. We are invited to pause, to notice the person before us, and simply to receive that person’s story. Our hopes in accompanying are that it fosters an encounter with Christ through the space we hold for another and that it is a witness of God at work in the world.
My husband’s note reminds me of the posture of accompaniment before I give a retreat. His words remind me that my call is about inviting retreatants to encounter Christ through me and in the spaces created to be with Christ in prayer, in silence, in community, and in each other. My husband’s words, though, invite me to hold this posture of accompaniment not only when I am in ministry mode, but in the many other roles I have in life: wife, mother, friend, colleague, daughter, granddaughter, and even the role of stranger encountering a stranger.
May we all savor my husband’s words of invitation in those we encounter each day as we pray: Lord, help me remember it is not about me. Help me simply accompany others in the walk closer to you.