I have learned a great many things from my pastor over the last five years. The most important thing I’ve learned from him is the great empathy Jesus has for us. I always thought of Jesus as a great teacher, a perfect man, a person I should strive to be every day, knowing I could never attain his perfection. Pastor Curtis shifted this image of a Jesus who was near but never close for me.

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Jesus wept.

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He moved towards Mary.

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He sat with sinners.

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I learned to pray for Jesus to be near. I needed Him near me. I needed someone near me who loved me, cared for me, saw me. I knew Jesus saw me, all of me, the terrible and the good. I knew he saw my inner longings, the things I kept buried deep within, how I longed to be known and seen.

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I would pray for Jesus to come and help when I sat in the EEG department with a sad Gavyn. When I sat on a bathroom floor with a kid needing a urine sample. When we were in the ER waiting for a seizure to stop. I would pray for Jesus to come near, to hold me, to reassure me things would be alright. I clung to Him, knowing no matter the outcome, if I held on to Him it would be OK.

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Then my neighbor’s son lost his battle with a rare neurological disorder. I went to the memorial service alone. Alone. I didn’t think I could do it anymore. Alone. Praying for Jesus to comfort me. He knew. He knew I could hold on to that for so long, for so many years, and eventually, the alone would break me.

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The last time I prayed for Jesus to come near, to sit with us, be with us, not leave us alone, he sent flesh and blood to me. He sent me the gift, the miracle I needed, a tangible person to hold us and pray over us. In the most unexpected way, the most unexpected person, and yet, the person who made the most sense. He sent me the person who had been sitting with me and seeing me for years. He just brought them close that time. Closer than they had ever been.

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