10/4/17 Morning Musing: Become the Expert You Pretend to Be

“I think it’s all in your head. If you just quit thinking about it, you’ll realize that you are fine.” My body shook with rage as I listened to these words and felt this person slip away from my inner circle. My face was hot and my breathing got faster and I was very aware of my heart beating fast and hard…so hard that I was sure that it must be moving my shirt on my chest. The only thought I could pull together was “You are not a safe person for me anymore. You simply are not safe.” 

This interaction happened in the year following the poisoning when I was going through hell. At the time, I was trying to regain my health through very extreme measures…I was dealing with bitterness and anger toward the man who had stolen my life from me…I was mourning the loss of the life that I had before…I was spiraling in a spiritual crisis…I was facing the isolation that accompanied my decimated health because people simply didn’t know what to do with me and consequently quietly pulled away…I was feeling guilt and shame for not being able to contribute to the family in any way…and I was already battling thoughts of suicide. And then I had this person tell me that all of my health issues were make-believe. What he really wanted was for me to get over it so that he didn’t have to feel any awkwardness. But if I could have just made it disappear with positive thoughts, don’t you think I would have? If I could have taken any shortcut out of this…anything that would make it end…I absolutely, without a doubt would have taken it…but there was no shortcut…there was only through.

Why am I writing about this? Good question. I think that we have an epidemic today. I think that we are so busy being busy that we don’t take care with our words…we are careless and we injure people. I think that we are so stuck looking at things from only our own point of view (and surrounding ourselves only with people who will validate our own point of view) that we think we are qualified to pass judgement on things that we honestly don’t know anything about. I know that my story is extreme…I haven’t ever come across anyone else who has experienced it…but I’m using my story to make the point…nobody could even get a glimpse of what I was experiencing unless they took the time to hear me…and in my brokenness, I found that people didn’t want to hear me…what they wanted was for my experience to be simple and neat and tied with a bow so that they could consume the cliff notes version, file it under some already existing category in their minds, and move on. And I frustrated people because their pre-made categories didn’t work with my story.  

The thing is, I don’t think my experience is unique (the poisoning…yes, that is unique…but being helpless to have people understand before passing judgement…well, I think that happens to people every single day.) I think that this happens when a new mother is dealing with depression and people tell her that she has no reason to be blue. I think this happens when someone makes a political statement and we dismiss them as a crazy/stupid/illogical/heartless person from across the political aisle from us. I think this happens when a person of color simply makes a truthful statement that black lives matter and people scream back that all lives matter. I think this happens when a person struggles with mental illness and people ignore it because they look ok on the outside.
I guess the point that I am trying to make is this: In a courtroom, not just anybody can be brought in to speak about certain matters…people who are qualified to speak on a subject…experts…are brought in (and their credentials are heavily scrutinized)…so why do we think we are qualified to pass judgement about things that we don’t know about? Why do we try to negate the experiences of others when learning from people that are different from us can only broaden our knowledge and deepen our compassion?

This one was hard for me to write. Not only did I struggle with reliving that memory and the feelings that go along with it…but I also struggled with facing my own guilt in this area. How about you? How are you doing with this? Do you spend time with people who are different from you? When you hear a perspective that is different than yours, do you take it in and crunch on it a while or do you begin to mentally rip apart their experience so that you can negate it? What do you have knee-jerk reactions about? Do you actively seek out people who stand counter to you on those subjects so that you can have a deeper understanding or do you surround yourself with people who will agree with your current stance (making it unnecessary to allow your self to become uncomfortable and brave enough to lean in to the discomfort?) Are you still learning something new every day or have you embraced becoming stagnant?
My prayer today is that we would be authentic people who are confident enough to allow others to be authentic also…that we would love people enough to listen and really hear them…that we would step away from our battle stances and step closer to someone who is different from us. Friends, I am praying that we would each draw closer to God and allow him to move us closer to each other. I am praying once again that we would love well.

Much love friends,

Beks

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23

Advertisements

9/7/17 Morning Musing: How I Practically Found My True Identity

Since my last musing, I have had people reach out to me and ask some questions. The most common one was: “Ok, I get that I need to find out who I am…learn about my individual identity…but what does that actually look like practically? It’s easy to do it in theory…but how does one go about actually discovering their God-given identity?” So, I’m no expert (when has that ever stopped me from talking?) but I will happily share how this process went for me so maybe it will be easier for you.

I have been on a journey of learning who I really am for over 6 years now and I would say that the most meaningful thing I did was put aside an entire day last year for just spending time with God asking him who HE says I am instead of telling him who I say I am. No distractions. No plans. No screens. An entire day of just listening. And I’ll be honest with you…it was hard and frustrating for at least 2/3 of that day. I don’t know about you, but being completely still and quiet so that I can hear is really hard for me. I have trouble doing this for 15 minutes let alone an entire day. I had to be comfortable enough to not be distracted by my discomfort. I had to be uncomfortable enough to keep from falling asleep. There were a lot of little things I had to eliminate through the course of my day to keep distractions at bay.

I recognize myself to be both an interpersonal learner and a kinesthetic learner meaning I learn best with my hands on something or my body moving and through dialog with other people…but I was trying to have a dialog with someone who doesn’t audibly answer me back and if I’m too active, it becomes a workout as opposed to a conversation. So, what I came up with was that I would art journal with God. I didn’t know what I was creating along the way…I just knew that I would create something with him…and that my hands would be busy so that my mind could be thinking. (For those with ADD/ADHD, like myself, this is a very helpful tool that is not always true for the general population.) So, I just started gathering stuff…anything really…that I could use in the project and I started laying it out on the paper and a characteristic of mine…not necessarily my identity…but a strong characteristic none the less…began to emerge. I had managed to pull two different fabrics together that both apply to me on a daily basis: denim and lace. I love jeans! They are strong and durable and go with everything…when I want to be tough, I wear jeans. I am not a fancy gal and I don’t do formalities (it makes me feel inauthentic)…I like comfort and depth and jeans seem approachable to me. On the flip side, lace is delicate and light and gentle and beautiful…it’s not as durable as denim…it has vulnerability to it and, at times, I like that too. I loved the contrast of the two fabrics when I saw them together and it made me think of how I hate being pigeon-holed. I am a multi-faceted person and I hate being forced into a mold…and when I recognize it happening, I respond rather violently to it…I feel the need to not just break the mold but shatter it…tell me I can’t do something and I will absolutely spend every ounce of energy I have proving you wrong. (I had a male teacher tell me once that girls were not as good at math and science as boys were. When I had completed both my BS in biomedical science and MS in integrative physiology, I went back and told him how wrong he was…a full 10 years later I was still trying to ravage a mold that I didn’t want to be pressed in to!) All that to say that I had my background for my individuality…among all of my likes and dislikes, I had found a thread connecting many of them…freedom! I needed the freedom to be and do what I wanted…not what others wanted for/of me.

And that is where the progress came to a screeching halt (or so it seemed) for several hours. I slowly started arranging and attaching the fabric background to my art journal pages and talking (sometimes out loud) with God. For most of the day, I would throw out some of the characteristics that I saw in myself (fierce, independent, deep, intelligent, etc) and got angrier and angrier at him as each one would not sit quite right. “No…that isn’t your identity” I would hear in my head over and over…and it pissed me off…I even resorted to arguing with him because I was these things. “But that isn’t WHO you are” I would hear. Aaarrrgghhhh! 

By early evening, I finally heard the first word: Created. “Are you serious God? Really? Everyone is created! That freaking rock on the ground is created. That is so boring! Even cockroaches are created! Ugh! This sucks!” As I wrestled with this word, an adverb was added: purposefully. Ok, so purposefully created…what do I do with that? I started thinking about how I like to create things (I was literally doing it right then!) and realized that I was purposefully created so that I could create with a purpose. Hmmm…ok, so that’s better than the cockroach thing. That is something to ponder for a while. What else have you got for me God? Loved. Ugh again! Everyone is loved by God, aren’t they? But…I have really experienced God’s love in some of my most broken places…deep inside where I have protected my damage from others and even from myself. And then I realized, maybe for the first time, that I love my people with a huge love…it’s not like other people I know…there is definitely something distinctive about it. Ok, more to ponder. Then, came the third and final word that day: Forgiven. That one immediately put me in tears as I relived how I have injured others during my life and I grieved deeply having hurt them. I started to think of some of the injuries I had received from others as well and realized that I am a forgiver. I am forgiven and it allows me to be a forgiver.

That was it that day. I spent about 15 hours and literally got 3 words from God: Created, Loved, and Forgiven. Those were not the words I had wanted…I wanted something with badass as a description…but apparently that isn’t WHO I am (It’s just what I am! Haha!!! Couldn’t resist.) I saw a pattern emerge: God gives from who he is…so who I really am will reflect him. This helped me see a couple of more words later as I reflected on my favorite name of God: El Roi (God who sees me.) I love that name because I often struggle with feeling invisible…and out of that struggle, I have come to a place where I see people…really see them where they are…and can love them and value them right there. That is where I got two more words: Known and Wanted. 

Since then, I have become more comfortable with my true identity. I have been able to see how I had previously come to different conclusions about my identity…I discovered that a lot of my characteristics were really a response to situations that I have experienced as opposed to characteristics given to me by God. (For example, I was tough because I had been injured in the past and never wanted to feel like a victim again…so I became a 2nd degree black belt. I wanted intelligent as my identity because I felt dumb for most of my life because I learn differently than is valued by our educational system. I wanted to be defined as independent because I know I can count on myself…it’s others that have let me down in the past.) I may or may not be those things…but they aren’t my identity…they aren’t WHO I am…because if they were, I would actually be defined by the hurts that caused me to respond in those ways. No, I am not defined by my damage…I am defined by the meaningful ways that God has poured into me…and that is why I am able to pour out those characteristics…and I feel whole and amazing when I get to do them.

That is how I arrived in this new place of freedom…and if you have read this far, then you not only have a lot of endurance in this long musing, but you may also want to ask yourself some questions: Do you know who God says you are? Are you able to differentiate between who he says you are and who you tell yourself you are? What might you do in order to position yourself to hear from God instead of all the noise around you? What characteristics do you have that are a response to pain in your life? Are you letting those characteristics (and pain) define you? What is the thing you give to the world and despite continuing to pour out, you end up filled up?  

My prayer today is that we would be able to still ourselves enough to hear from God. I’m praying that we would achieve our purpose in life by fully coming to terms with our true identity. I’m praying that we would become positioned so that we can continuously receive from God and consequently keep pouring out from him as well.

Much love friends,
Beks

9/5/17 Morning Musing: As Is

Last week, I went out and got a new tattoo. The artist was hesitant to ask the importance of the tattoo because it said “freedom.” He was afraid that I would answer his question with sadness and tears about a divorce or leaving an abusive relationship. During our conversation, I told him that my husband didn’t have any tattoos and that was when he felt able to ask about the one that I was getting…if it wasn’t about getting out of a sad relationship (apparently something that he hears a lot about) then what was the meaning? I tried to condense the huge meaning for me to a couple of sentences so that I wouldn’t talk the poor kid to death…because…well…me…y’all know me…there are just SO many words!!!!  

Anyway, I told him that I have spent my entire life as a people-pleaser…that I have always tried to make myself into the person that others needed or wanted…and that finally, at 40 years old, I was learning that I am enough and that there is rest in that. He nodded his head and said “I see…so you are starting to live just for yourself.” Nope…he isn’t getting it…that is ok…I can still explain it better. “Actually, I believe very strongly that I am meant to live a life full of loving others and putting them first…in serving people and doing what I can to help them also achieve freedom from whatever holds them back…basically I believe in following God…but the freedom I feel that I have finally achieved is in understanding that I don’t have to be what someone else wants me to be in order to do those things really well…I don’t have to “try” so hard…I can just be me and offer what I have and know that it is enough without striving to be something or someone better…this tattoo is important to me because it is a reminder that I already am exactly who I am supposed to be…and God loves me and can love others through me right now…as is.”  

I could tell he was thinking about what I had said as he finished up my tattoo. I wish I could tell you that I then was able to tell him all about Jesus…but in truth, time was up and it was time to pay and leave. Since then, I have run through that interaction with the artist many times in my head and I feel certain that he was struggling with his own sense of being “enough.” So, I’m wondering…how are you doing with this? Do you get to be the real you? Do you even know who that is? Do you get caught up being who you think others want you to be or striving to be or to do more? What would freedom look like for you? Does it involve shattering a mold that you feel you keep getting pressed into? Could freedom be something that you offer yourself by allowing yourself to just be? After all, we are human beings…not human doings.

My prayer today is that we would all ask God who he says we are. As our designer and creator, he knows what characteristics and purposes are in place for us. I am praying that we would stop fighting who we are and embrace it instead. I am praying that we would reach a point of freedom and rest when we stop striving and competing so much…because the real me or you is exactly the person that is needed wherever our purpose is.

Much love friends,

Beks

7/28/17 Morning Musing: Little Drops of Life

Yesterday morning I was filling out yet another set of medical forms before going under anesthesia…for the 21st time…in only two and half years. It was my fifth doctor’s appointment of the week…yet I grinned at the question in front of me: “What do you want to achieve with your treatment?” I chuckled to myself as I began to write my answer that seemed to stump every doctor who has taken the time to read it: “I want to squeeze every little drop of living out of this life that I possibly can.” Apparently they don’t get that answer very often because it has made several of my doctors look at me a little differently…maybe, just maybe, I’m not just trying to get a script for pain meds out of them? Maybe there is more to this girl than meets the eye? And is it possible that this woman’s pain has allowed her to see something that I have missed?

I was diagnosed about a year and a half ago with occipital neuralgia. What this means is that the occipital nerve that comes out between vertebrae at the top of the neck and branches out and over the whole head is somehow impinged and angry. The result is daily headaches that mimic migraines but do not respond at all to migraine medications. If I let the headaches progress, the pain moves into my eye area and if I don’t catch it with medication early enough, the day is blown…I end up in fetal position in a dark room rocking back and forth and fighting against the oh-so-lovely ice-pick-through-my-eyes sensation that results and persists.  

Through the nearly 22 months of headaches, I have become extremely light-sensitive…not just to the brightness of lighting but to the quality of lighting as well (for example, fluorescent lights are the devil!) and since I am a person who thinks in terms of analogies, I can’t help but think that this is an analogy for a spiritual application here too. I didn’t think much about the light that was present around me until I became very sensitive to it. I didn’t think much about the source of light around me until not being aware started causing me physical pain. Becoming acutely aware of lighting has caused me to also look at sources of light in my heart-space…where do I find joy?…what are the life-breathing things?…and how does this connect to “squeezing every drop of living out of this life that I possibly can?”

The answers to these questions have surprised me as I have found light or blessings in some of the most unexpected places (along with the places that I would have expected): a morning without pain, watching my kids get along, a hug and kiss from my husband when he gets home from work, being able to have patience with my kids despite being in pain, my son’s God-given compassion, watching our dogs wrestle and play, my daughter’s passion for creating and exploring, a chance to have a really good belly-laugh, a thoughtful and kind word from a friend, good medical insurance, the sound of birds chirping, playing games with my family, a good medical test result for someone I love, my husband’s seemingly endless supply of patience with my ongoing medical issues, moments of pain-free clarity where I can think and create, and even the pain itself…because if I approach it well, I can sometimes derive strength from it.  

This is more than just a “Find the blessings from God” pep talk for myself…more than a “Things could certainly be worse” cliche. What I am getting at is that each moment requires some analysis and effort to be present. What does squeezing every bit of living out of life look like right now? What could I be doing right now that would be life-breathing for myself or those I love? Where am I not living a full life and how can that change? And every time I ask myself those questions, I find more opportunities…opportunities to love well, to learn something new, to pour into someone else, or just observe the sources of light around me right now. 

So how are you doing with this? While you probably don’t suffer from O.N., you likely have pain in your life. What could your pain be helping you to see? Where are you going through the motions instead of being intentional with your time here? Could you be squeezing more living out of your life?  

My prayer today is that we would all glean as much as we can from our time here…that we would be intentional with, not only our time, but all of our resources (including our pain)…and that we would see where God has placed light in our lives. I am praying that we would live fully and love well.

Much love friends,
Beks

7/26/17 Morning Musing: Whack-A-Doodle

So, some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been writing and sharing my “Morning Musings” in quite some time…and some of you have no idea what I’m talking about…either way, I have some stuff to confess: I stopped a while back when I realized that I was getting discouraged by lack of response from people.
 
The truth is, I became unsure as to whether or not it made a difference…it was like thinking I was speaking to a room full of people and then realizing that the room was actually empty. The problem with that statement is that you all are not the audience that I was supposed to be writing for…the musings were always meant to simply be a conversation between me and God…I just happened to be having the conversations in public…which might classify me as a whack-a-doodle…I don’t know.
 
Anyway, I have felt him prodding me lately and I can think of specific instances where I waved him off and said “Why? It doesn’t matter to anyone.” And I felt God saying “But it matters to you and me…to our relationship.” So, despite my hesitation and fear, I plan to begin working on this again and making it a priority. I don’t know if it will be the same as before or not…I don’t know if any of you will read it or not…I don’t even know at what frequency it will occur…but I do know this: God wouldn’t impress on me to do it unless it mattered…and that’s enough for me. So, here we go again!

Much love,
Beks

10/18/16 Morning Musing: Knowing What To Own

**I started writing this morning thinking that I was writing about a completely different topic but this was where God took it so I hope somebody finds it helpful.**

What. The. Hell?!?! Are you serious right now? This was the questioning in my head as my friend relayed the scathing conversation that took place about me behind my back between some “friends” a few years back. My skin flushed and prickled as I clawed at the neckline of my sweater, scratching my red, itchy skin as I did so. “Why is the heat turned up so high in here? I’m sweating!” was all I could say in response to this heart-breaking news. I felt betrayed and I was angry…and my response to anger is usually tears and I didn’t want that so I was going to distract myself in any way that I could for the time being. I would unpack this and deal with it later. For now, pizza…lots of pizza…and chocolate…because I could always count on eating my emotion…my delicious emotions.

I did work through it all later. God and I did some difficult work together on this one and came to a conclusion that I really didn’t like: While I am responsible for how I make people feel, I am not responsible to own their opinions and feelings…even their opinions or feelings toward me. Ugh! The people-pleaser side of me really, REALLY did not like that. I recall talking with God and trying to negotiate with him: “Now, come on…if the opinion is about me, I should have some say in it shouldn’t I? I mean, when people have me pegged completely wrong, there’s got to be a smooth, non-messy kind of way to make them see that I really mean well but that I am just a bumbler who screws up a lot…right?” The answer I got from God was “How often do I force the truth of who I am on those I love?” *Unhh!* (In case you don’t know that sound, it’s what it sounds like when air leaves your mouth really fast because you got hit in the gut unexpectedly.) 

So, despite my desire to “fix” things (and maybe also the desire to call people out on their shi-…uh…on being intentionally unkind to me) and after talking it through with some friends, I decided to release it. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt me and it doesn’t mean that it didn’t matter, but it does mean that I was willing to let God be in control of it…and by doing that, my anger and resentment over it didn’t control me anymore. **Post note: one of the two ladies involved in the conversation very humbly approached me on her own a couple of years later and cleared things up (at least her side of things) and we have become quite good friends now…she has actually become a consistent source of Godly counsel, wisdom, and encouragement…I’m pretty glad I didn’t just go in guns blazing like I felt justified in doing.**

What is my point? Glad you asked! I guess there are several: First, I think that how we make people feel matters (I know, I’ve said that before…I’m a broken record here…I can’t tell you a single thing I learned in middle school but I can tell you in excruciating detail how I felt…feelings last…how we make people feel does matter.) Also, while how we make them feel is important, we can not own their opinions and feelings for them…even if the opinions are about us. Finally, I would say that if the weight of all of this gets too heavy for you like it does for me at times, just remember that all God is asking you to do right now is to be obedient right now. He’s not asking you to change the whole world and everything in it at this moment. What does obedience look like right now? For me, sometimes it means speaking up…sometimes it means holding my tongue.

So how are you doing with this? Do you think at all about how your words or actions affect other people? If you do think about this, are you able to keep it in balance or do you take it to far and try to own their feelings and opinions? How can you create healthy boundaries for yourself so that you are invested in those you love but not so deeply invested that you find yourself wresting ownership away from them. Finally, what does obedience look like for you right here right now? Not your five year plan…not your huge long-term ministry goals…today! What would obedience to God look like for you today?

My prayer today is that we would be so consumed with serving God and serving others that our reputations would take care of themselves. I’m praying that we invest deeply and love well. Much love friends,

Beks

9/23/16 Feelings

Emotional chameleon that I am, I am feeling so many things: My boy was elected to student council so I’m thrilled (and honestly, impressed…he is so much braver than I am!) Meanwhile, my friend’s daughter did not get elected and my heart broke as I drove her home while she cried. My husband is sick and feeling like crap and there is nothing I can do for him but make him comfortable (so I have a yummy, hearty chicken soup goin’.) I’ve been watching Michaela handle the transition to middle school with the absolute grace and poise of a child who feels utterly secure in who she is. I have gotten great news health-wise about a loved one and I am feeling thankful and relief and just so joyful. I have been dealing with daily migraines for a year now and have felt the emotional blows (once again) that accompany the physical blows of chronic pain…but I’ve been healed of greater things than this in the past and feel really hopeful each day that I wake up that this may be the day that God chooses to end the headaches or, if not, another day to learn something from the pain. On top of that, I feel like I have finally found my people…the crazy ones that are cut from the same cloth as me despite being completely different from me…and that leaves me feeling full. So many feels…glad I got the chance to feel them all.

9/8/16 Morning Musing: “And Playing the Role of Jesus…You!”

During my life, I have had many difficult interactions with people who resolutely identify with the hero in nearly all interactions. As an example, the person might be trying to convey something to me using Biblical examples and in the example, they are Jesus and I am the sinner…be it the Pharisees, Judas, or Peter during one of his overly-enthusiastic rants (that last one might have some credibility to it .😉) And while I think it is great to use analogies and stories (and especially scripture) to get a point across (that is part of why I write musings!) I think we should be careful about the perspective…the role we assume that we play in these interactions. Now, I get that the majority of people identify with or see some deep value in the hero/heroine…if they didn’t, the villain would naturally become the hero/heroine to that person…but I think we should use caution when we assume that we are the hero in the majority of our interactions…especially to the other person. My reasoning for this is that when we pick a hero to identify with (and especially when the person is Jesus who is sinless) we frequently can lose our humility…and shut down any further communication. For example, if in your mind, you play the role of Jesus, then you obviously have no sin to own in the interaction…everything you did is good and justified…and to disagree with you is to disagree with God and all things that are good. It leaves the other person no room to disagree or question without becoming the designated villain…and that trap makes interactions with you unsafe for the other person…which can cause that person to shut down a bit because, regardless of what they say, the assumption is that they have already been designated as the villain.  

So, how are you doing with this? Do you regularly identify with the hero character in the film (starring you, of course) that plays in your mind? What room, if any, do you leave the other person to disagree with you? How often do you enter into these interactions looking to own some portion of the fault? How often do you attempt to find value in the other person’s perspective?  

My prayer today is that we would all understand that there is so much to be learned from others. I’m praying that we would make efforts in our relationships to understand and learn from other people’s viewpoints. (After all, if I know what I know and also learn what you know, I have doubled what I can know…there is value in that!) Finally, I am praying that we would own our own parts…the things that break down communication…so that we might grow to love each other better.

Much love friends,
Beks  

9/1/16 Morning Musing: Choosing to Enter In

I could feel the heat spreading to my face and neck as perspiration began to prick at my skin. I exhaled slowly and shakily through my mouth…I hadn’t even realized that I was holding my breath until now…it’s funny how I catch myself holding my breath as a way to brace against possible impact…possible pain. And, as I felt the wet sting in my eyes, I waited…I waited to see what they were going to do with what I had just shared with them. See, as I am prone to do, I was questioning something that had been accepted as a truth…a rule…and I had unwittingly invited them into the uncomfortable wrestling with God that I do regularly. I was showing, through my own experience, that while we love to see things as black or white…there are gray tones that we have to deal with…there are shades that are neither black nor white…shades that exist and challenge the tidy equations that we try apply to life. And to my great relief, most of them entered into the wrestling match with me. Once invited, they chose to step away from the comfortable conclusions…outside of the neatly-drawn lines…and into a place where things are a bit messy…and require more work…more effort to understand. They willingly stepped out into an uncomfortable and unknown place with me…and while they can not see from my perspective…they wanted to understand…and that meant EVERYTHING…meant the whole world to me.

Why am I telling you about this and why the heck am I being so vague about the content of this conversation? Glad you asked! This experience…these feelings…can be applied to other people and situations and I don’t want to bog you down with my specific situation and experiences. What I do want to point out is what was done well and why it matters:  

First, my friends did not know about a specific aspect of my background in this conversation…and they could not ever know about it unless I shared it with them. So, as difficult as it was to verbalize…as bumbling and lacking in eloquence as I am…as painful as it was to reveal my brokenness…in order to be the kind of friends that go deep, I had to let them in on my experience and perspective. So, speaking up (gently) when you need someone to understand you or your experience is important.

The other big thing that was done well was that my friends were willing to be inconvenienced for me. They were willing to enter into the messiness that accompanies investing in someone else. Because they care about me, they allowed themselves to trust that I wasn’t just throwing monkey wrenches into the conversation for sport…but that I needed to be understood in a way that they couldn’t access from the place where the straight, clean lines exist or where unemotional formulas can be applied. Once trusting my motives, they allowed themselves to wrestle through different aspects of the topic and they allowed themselves to feel compassion for me. What better picture of living out a life that reflects Jesus is there than that? None! They didn’t just throw out some head-knowledge and leave me to my wrestling match…they entered in with me. They didn’t just blindly approve whatever I was saying in order to avoid making waves, they entered into the mess with both their minds and their hearts.

This stuff really matters! Not just in my situation but in most (I think.) Think about the areas of life where there is the most strife…think about racial tensions…think about political tensions…think about areas where a majority are ignorant to the plight of others…all these areas are exacerbated by applying a formula and only perpetuate the ignorance and the number of injuries incurred.

So, how are you doing with this? Do you feel understood? If you don’t, are you speaking up to the people that you crave understanding from? Is there someone that you love but that you just simply don’t get? How much are you investing in, not just mentally comprehending their situation, but also empathizing and feeling compassion. Are you communicating together with love and kindness and a willingness to hear? Really hear (not letting them speak long enough to get your chance to talk.)  

My prayer today is that we would be led by truth that our heads know but also compassion that our hearts experience. I am praying that we would be drawn to those who are less like ourselves so that we may learn and increase our understanding of people instead of just understanding ideals.

Much love friends,

Beks