Sometimes They Say Things That Hurt and M.E.

Today Madelleine L’Engle (M.E.) writes about being new and yet staying the same.  She loves Bach and finds a newness in his music even when she thinks she knows it already.  There is something to be said for this concept in relationships too.  When we think we know someone we can fall into traps of stale murkiness.  In fact, when we think we know our own life the same can happen.  We think we know who we are or what we are called to do and that is that.  But, if there is one thing I have learned in seminary, it is that discernment is a forever kind of thing.

It goes to show then, that we need to keep our minds and hearts open.  Even more, we need to keep people in our lives who keep us on our toes.  A life full of comfy cozy people is not the best for making us get up and get busy living the way we need to be.  We need people who challenge us, call us on our crap and love us enough (or sometimes dislike us enough) to be brutally honest with us and say things that hurt.

The other day I vented some frustration and pain to a collared friend.  Suddenly I said, “So there it is.  I am done now.  What do you think?”  In all his wisdom and truth he said, “I don’t think you are.  What else?”  At which point I burst into tears.  I had, of course, known I was close to crying (which I hate to do) and tried to avoid it by ending my vent and turning it around to him and his thoughts.  He knew enough to call me on it and force me to try.  The funny thing is, we are new friends.  Kind of a big-brother mentoring thing.  We walk and talk through the struggles aligned with military chaplaincy and seminary.  But he already gets it, his role.  The one of brutal and up front honesty.

I have been blessed with a few of those in my life.  One is long gone now.  Lost to suicide.  Her gentle nature was not lost in the force of nature that I tend to be.  Instead, it was an opposites attract kind of thing.  Still, her words of truth and love live on.  If anything, the gentleness is all the more powerful than every because she is gone.  I never thought I would say this, but she is still teaching me, even by her own death… and it hurts.

I have a couple of others still.  They are in my life to varying degrees.  One, if I need her, and occasionally she pops up with a word of wisdom on fb too.  Our shared birthdays gave us a day once to get to know each other far better and yet, I really didn’t need to know her better.  She was already being steel sharpening steel.  What I was seeing on the outside was what I saw more of.  She was just her, being her.  No apologies necessary. What a powerful lesson all on its own, but man did it hurt to look in the mirror some days.

My sun worshiping one is not in my life as much as I like, but she is doing some good things for her soul and that makes it okay with me.  It isn’t about my needing her or her needing me.  Instead we teach each other constantly kind of like a sparring match.  I love it.  It invigorates me and some days makes me cry when I realize how little I really know. Because of that I would not trade her for the world.

Then there is this one who is almost daily in my life and we go through cozy days.  Then suddenly, like a freak summer thunderstorm, her words of wisdom and strength pile in and force my attention.  I love thunderstorms.  They are a little scary when you really think about them. They are all the same yet very individual.  They are full of surprises and energy and power beyond our imagination.  Beyond beautiful, they are awesomely cool.

But each of these lovely people say and do things that hurt.  Not to be mean. Not to vent their own needs.  But because that is what they are supposed to do.  Be real. Be honest. Be loving.  It is in those moments that I thought I knew my own life that they surprise me by being the most fantastic mirror and showing me more of who I am than I could find alone.

I think when we wonder where God is in our lives, we need to stop, be quiet, and listen to the voices already around us.  They may very well be God right in our living room turning fashion magazines and drinking tea, or on skype with coffee talking about new eye makeup, or baking up a storm for the unit bake sale and corralling kiddos.   They may seem to be the most mundane, ordinary, unsurprising part of our lives. Until they aren’t.  But don’t be angry when they say things that hurt.  Instead, love them and honor them enough to hear their words and ponder them… you might be pondering the words of God in your heart.  

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