Years ago, there was someone that I enjoyed teasing. I knew that I was playing on the edge of her comfort zone. She was ticklish in the same way that I am – we hate it! For years, she endured my torments with a smile and laugh. Then one day, she turned and made a simple request.
“Can you not tickle me? I do not like it. I need to know you are on my side. If you are, you will not do this.”
The request was simple. It was called for a yes/no. What struck me was the candid admission that another needed to know I was on her/his side. The words, especially when combined with the look in the eyes, went straight to my heart. Was I willing to support and defend?
The question has remained with me since. It is an important one to me, so I try to renew my answer each day.
I have come to see that as I answer I am also asking. While there are those around me receiving the question, my question is usually directed towards God. “When I call, give me answers. God, take my side! Once, in a tight place, you gave me room; now I’m in trouble again: grace me! Hear me!” (Psalm 4.1)
Asking the question is critical. If I had been asked, it is likely that I would have missed the opportunity. Even with the question and response, experience reminds me that knowing is a two-way street. Asking and acting is not the end of the story. Experiencing the actions and acknowledging the outcome is closes the loop. In my story, this is especially important when it comes to God. My acknowledgement opens doors to More. It is a cycle the feeds on itself, teaching me the depths of God’s compassion and engagement in my life.
At times, I still wonder. Doubt, fear, and uncertainty are a big part of our stories. Knowing is more than just action; it finds wholeness in our reflection as we see, hear, and understand compassion that lives.