Just a shoulder. What if that’s the one thing you’re looking for?
A safe and kind and sturdy shoulder. A shoulder that says, “I’m here for you,” without saying a word at all.
It’s when you find yourself on the floor, your back against the wall, your head slumped forward and holding the weight of that pain, that sorrow, that betrayal, that unanswered prayer . . . and your battered, war-weary heart wishes for a shoulder, on your right or your left, on which to slowly transfer your weight, in a sort of helpless surrender, a silent act of trust.
A shoulder that doesn’t mind when your tears drop down your cheeks and onto it.
A shoulder that doesn’t offer solutions or demand explanations or brush you off with thoughtless cliches.
A shoulder that listens as you spew your faithless doubts when you rip the bandage off your wounds.
A shoulder that’s content to sit in silence when you’re out of words.
A shoulder strong enough to support a firestorm of anger.
A shoulder gentle enough to ease your numb-from-shock body back into feeling.
Maybe that shoulder would smell like a boy who’s kind to your heart or a dad who’s not going to leave or a friend who’s not scared away by your raw honesty.
It’s so simple, just a shoulder to lean on, to cry on, to fall asleep on. But something that safe, that tender, that sacred might be the thing our souls long for most deeply.
And what if there’s no shoulder—on your right or your left? What do you do then? When loneliness adds more weight to your already heavy load? The hard stuff gets harder when you’re alone . . .
But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. (Ps. 3:3)
It takes a lot of faith to believe that God’s presence is better than a flesh-and-blood shoulder. We want something physical and concrete, something to grab onto and hold tighter. We long to lay our eyes on someone who’s there for us; we ache for a warm shoulder with muscles and veins pumping with blood and warm skin that feels our own.
It takes a lot of faith to believe that Jesus is better than any comfort in this entire world.
But what if He really is? What if His wrap-around presence is real and rescuing and ready for you and me?
Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken. My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock. My refuge is in God. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before him. God is our refuge. (Ps. 62:5–8 CSB)
And what if you asked Him to be your shoulder?
What if we trusted His forever-dependable presence in our most lonely places?
What if we heard His invitation to rest in the truth that He is with us, that He is sufficient, that He sees the load that’s got us breaking down?
What if we actually let Him carry the load?
We’d discover peace in a never-going-anywhere Father, even when we have no shoulder to cry on.
Then one day, when a trustworthy shoulder does come along, we’d recognize that shoulder as not a replacement for our Father, but as one of His good gifts, an extension of His wrap-around presence.
Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Ps. 84:9–11)