Friday, May 10
summerberry tea and brokenhearted conversation
I was having a quick cup of tea with a friend tonight. QUICK being the word - as she stopped by for about half an hour - enough time to hug her, hug her son, show her around, pour her a cup of tea and have a very quick visit. But, quick or not - it was good. Very Good. It had been too long. I miss her visits!
But our conversation went toward talking about what is happening within our circles ... especially within marriages.
And after she left, I just could not seem to shake those thoughts. The brokenness happening within our community, our families, our friends, and our church family. It seems that things are in a downward spiral, and very out of control in some ways. Longtime marriages are disintegrating and falling apart left and right. Families are fracturing all over the place and children are caught up in the mix. The things that used to be so black and white have become muddy and murky and greyer than grey. We just heard some statistics about Christians who have walked away from church going. And church attendance is whittling down to about one Sunday out of four. People we held in high regard are walking away from their faith, or are justifying what they are doing, as if to convince us that we are the ones who are now judgmental because how dare we think that what they are doing is wrong? At the time I was being raised, (whether right or wrong) things like movie going and card playing were wrong, let alone smoking, drinking or swearing. Now we just laugh at those things, because they are really the least of our worries, except for families who have loved ones caught up in the addictions of drugs or alcohol. (our extended family deals with this) Now sin has become justified, alluring, exciting and yet they are still saying it is all good, they are more in love with Jesus than ever before .... why do Christians think it is okay? What has happened. Seriously, I don't buy it. It is all just a matter of time I think, until God steps in and puts an end to some of the things I see happening. He has a way of bringing the reality of sin to our surface.
These days, it seems it is all we can do, to become aware of the calamity all around us. We weep for what was and now what is. We stand in numbness when we see someone and hardly recognize their new life, even though they are trying to convince us that they are happier than they ever were before. We stand and watch family units break down, and some limp along for years before a final severing takes place. We suggest names of counsellors, and perhaps spend hours sitting alongside, wiping tears and holding hands. Sometimes we just stand in utter fog - seeing and yet not really believing. Hearing but not comprehending. Weeping inside at what was, and what we hoped would be, and what it now is. And we stand there in our shock, not knowing what to do, or not do. What to say, or not say. How to enter in, or stand back because the walls are too strong and high around a person.
I will be the first to admit that life is very hard. It is hard with Jesus, and I can't imagine how people do the hard part of life without him. I will also say that often I do not know what to do when there is pain, or hardship. When there is breakdown of communication. Muddling through the aftermath, the carnage ... is hard work, and often NOT for the faint of heart, or weak kneed! Nothing is harder than entering a room where it feels like a bomb has just gone off and blown the hearts of the people into pieces. It is hard to know how to bind up the broken hearted. Or to stand alongside of the emotionally injured. It is hard to know how to carry the wounded, especially when you feel wounded yourself.
Sometimes it is hard enough to work through our own junk - let alone trying to walk alongside of someone else who is waist deep in their own quicksand of emotional, mental and spiritual stuff. I know, because Alvin and I walked through stuff that seemed like it was going to suck us under. We wept more tears than I could believe we would have. We separated ourselves from people who we felt were responsible for pain in our lives. We at times were angry. We wept with our counsellor. We allowed people to walk with us and were thankful when they listened, and when they sometimes asked the hard questions, or spoke words to us that perhaps we didn't want to hear at the time. It was hard to work through our stuff - our "hurt" while at the same time trying to live a "normal" life. Normal - ha, ha ... I heard it said that "normal is only a setting on a dryer".
Back in 2005 and 2006 when I had my near-death experience and serious hospital stays I took on the new motto for my life - "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". Yep, it does. Why do you think diamonds shine ... or gold is so brilliant. Because of heat and high pressure .
During those times going through our stuff (our hurt, heartbreak, grief and despair) I learned alot. I learned that I will only tell someone about my stuff, if I feel safe with them, and this usually means that I have some kind of relationship with them. I have also learned that it is sometimes easy to just shove everything inside, or put it out of sight, out of mind ... but sooner or later - it rears its ugly head! I have come to value honesty in relationships, and transparency. That usually give way to vulnerability. Hmmm... authenticity and vulnerability - not very inviting for the most part! (But so necessary)
More than anything however, I have come to see the part that Jesus plays in my life. In the most vulnerable places - he is there. We really could not do life without HIM.
Since the hardest part of my life happened - that being the death of my grandson in 2008 - I learned alot about what I value in my life, in my walk with the Lord and in my relationships with my family and my friends. I sometimes have laughed about not having a filter any more. I have tried to temper the things that I sometimes say - perhaps sometimes I come across a little too off the cuff. I know that I hate pretending.
Our lives are packed full these days - certainly it can be all good stuff - but the thing is - I want to invest in relationships that are life giving and growing. We can not be all things to all people - and honestly, no one has the time to be that way. I once said to on of the guy pastors that I was working with - that he was a "smoozer" because I watched him flit through the event saying a word here, a word there and moving from one to the other but only spending a minute or two if that, in conversation with people. He acknowledged that yes, he was a smoozer and seemed to be fine with that. However, I knew from my personality type, that I did better in the small group, spending time with one person at a time - making some quality time. I have also come to value looking into the eyes of someone as I talk. The eyes are the window to the soul they say. I am always a little concerned when someone talks and tell me how they are, yet doesn't look me in the eyes. Something seems amiss.
I value the fact that people will take the time to talk but also take the time to listen. We need to give and take in conversations. I value honesty. Don't try to pull the wool over my eyes ... I am older and more experienced in life, and I am onto you! If you don't want to answer - tell me. I will respect that. If I am pushing you on something - tell me - all I ask is that you are honest with me. If I am asking you, I really hope you know that I just want to care for you, but I need to know really where you are at. I used to love that about my friend Maxine. When I was going through my hardest times of my depression, she would usually say, "how are you?" and well, depending on that day - I would sometimes say, "fine" to which she would stop me and say, "how are you REALLY" to which I knew it was time for some heart to heart - eye to eye - pull up a chair conversation. I learned alot from her during those times!
I think that when I was in pastoral ministry and since, my eyes have been opened to the need for us to turn our chairs towards one another and engage in caring for each other. Just like in a family - and I thank God for the husband and kids we have. I am not trying to brag, forgive me if it comes across like that, but I am glad that we can read one another pretty well - and are brave enough to call each other out on things, or to just hug when it seems just a hug is needed, or to ask the hard question at times. I am thankful we can be open and honest. And there is no pretense. Life is far too short for pretending! I have heard Dr. Larry Crabb say that the church is the most underused resource for caring for one another - for doing the SoulCare as he calls it. Why is that? Because perhaps we are too scared to ask or to hold one another accountable? Or are we too scared to care for someone because then we may have to say the hard thing? Or are we too worried that we are inadequate in knowing how to care. Or perhaps we are just too busy TO care.
So then ... we sit over a cup of tea, and share with one another the heartache we are feeling about the pain within our circles of family, of friends, and our church community. Why do we feel like there is more brokenness in the world? Is there actually just that much more? Or is it because people are just not hiding it any more? Someone actually said to me today ... is it a sign of the end times?
I am not sure - all I know is that it is all around us. Pain. Deception. Hurt. Anxiety. Divorce. Brokenness. Sickness. Death. And sometimes the illusion of peace when peace is no where to be found. All of these things - has invaded all our circles. But people are acting like it is all okay. But somehow God gives us eyes to see through that facade, and we weep over the brokenness. And even as we sit and drink tea with friends that we love - we become brutally aware of the fact that our hearts hurt.
O Lord, hear our prayers on behalf of those who are disillusioned, who are walking away from following you, who are in pain and brokenness. Lord, bind up the brokenhearted. Be with those who mourn. Restore the joy. O Lord, repair relationships. Open the eyes of those blinded by sin. And Lord, in your mercy, bring us to our knees over the sin in our life - sin that separates, that breaks relationship with you, and with one another. And Lord, please give me a heart that cares. Please give me ears that listen. Please give me a heart that breaks with them - but a heart that is also willing to reach out, and to help to bind up the brokenhearted with your love, your mercy and your grace. Show us Lord, please show us - how to be an extension of you - in all ways. O Lord, please, hear my prayers.
at 12:06 AM