Monthly Archives: June 2015

When Friendships in Christ Fail

I have this almost constant battle in my mind of what should happen, and what actually does. One of the most difficult for me is relationships with Christians that fall apart. Everything in me screams that we are supposed to love each other and that Christ at the center can fix it. I hate saying goodbye to anyone. And even years after I lose contact with a friend, I still think of them fondly, regardless of what brought about that change.

He came to set us free from our sins, and really it is our sins that break relationships because if we were all perfect, we would all get along. Even within the broken world I so desperately want my relationships with my fellow followers of Christ to be different. So at the recent loss of yet another close friend (I remember each and every close friend I have ‘lost’ to a relationship breakdown, and I think of them throughout the year) I must ask myself, what am I to do? I cannot make others happy. I cannot control their actions, so when they wish to leave, I must let them leave and live in peace. But how shall I respond.

At this moment, I cry. I cry because I see that is what Christ did. When I read the story of Christ raising Lazarus from the dead, I don’t believe that he was crying because his friend died. Christ new that he would raise Lazarus. Crying over his death doesn’t make sense.

Christ tells them that he is glad that he was not there in order that they may believe, and that his sickness would not end in death, but was for God’s Son to be glorified through it. Christ tells them that he is the resurrection and the life, and not that he is the life that will bring Lazarus back from the grave then, but eternal life for, “they will live even though they die.”

When he saw them weeping, even after he explained this, he began to weep. Not because he was sad for his friend, but because his dear children did not believe. They did not see the truth of life that he had brought. In a sense he is crying because his relationship with them was broken, or at least very childish. Rather than having belief in who he is, which is required of eternal life. So he weeps.

I may be stretching this exact passage a bit, but if we look at a lack of faith as being a broken, or at least immature relationship with Christ, and that is what Christ weeps over, then we to in being like God are to cry over broken relationships.

So, as I continue to wish that Christ would return and make all things right so that I can have wonderful perfect relationships with my friends, I do what I must now, which is cry my temporary loss of relationship with them.


A Moment of Courage, I don’t usually have: Open

I used to think that close friendship with another person meant that I knew everything about them. I asked them questions. I feel their pain. I tell them what I am excited about for the future. That is it. The closeness meter is determined by how much I see them cry.

It finally occurred to me that being close to someone means that they need to see you to. As you are. Hurts, pains, and failings. It can’t be them finding out, it needs to be you telling them. Otherwise, when the dark days come, and they do come, you won’t have anyone that knows how to help you, and you won’t tell anyone.

I am deciding that the, “others need to see you” is going to become, “I am going to show myself to others.” Unfortunately the timing of it goes that when I am ready to share something, something interrupts. Or I mentally just tell them as though I am teaching a lecture. More emotionally draining is the realization that I may not be around my most committed friends, whom I believe deserve to see me, when I am ready to share. This is usually why I refrain from sharing in these moments when I so desire to be known, “This should wait for my best friend.” So I bottle it up and forget.

Today, I decide that I must speak.

I must be found.

And I pray to God that it goes well, because my other fear is that talking about my mental demons will open up for others the same chasm I fall into.


I Did Something Human

I did something interesting today. I did something human. What I did is totally normal and most everyone partakes of it every day and at least every day. But to me is quite peculiar.

I hunted for parking for twenty minutes (normal for San Diego, although it is a work day, so shouldn’t people be working?). I met Allison to go snorkeling (I like snorkeling). I found that I had lost one of our snorkels and one of our masks (about the fifth thing I have lost this week (wait, its Monday…). I complained about the water being cold (cause I am a wimp). We got gelato. We talked about food, social events, friends, and children. Then I left.

I didn’t ask how she was doing. I mean I did. I just didn’t ask two, three or four times. I didn’t pry into events that I knew were going on. I didn’t try to work through some emotional trauma. I didn’t talk theology or philosophy. I just enjoyed my friends company and made a memory.

As I was driving away, I felt almost as if something was amiss. But, at the same time, it felt like a success. I had done something new. I just simply enjoyed time with another human being with very little analyzation of the situation, conversation, or them as a person. I didn’t try to infer habits from child hood or figure out why she liked certain things. It was weird, bizarre, and slightly uncomfortable. But rather nice.

So today, I bid you, go do something fun, make a memory. And just enjoy another human being because that is what we as humans are supposed to do.

(I may make this a new series “I Did Something Human” which would take an odd look at what we think are rather normal behaviors, point to their quirks, and then point to their necessity. Thoughts?)


Listening Part 2

I love hanging out with people who are blunt and simply call things out the way they are. I have several close friends that happily inform me, at the moment of observation regardless of whether it fits the current context or not, that, “your balding,” “you swim slow,” “you laugh really loud,” or, “you talk too much.”

Although some may find this offensive, I find this rather comforting. I always know where I stand with them. There is no guess or wondering if I am doing something right or something horribly wrong. Unfortunately this stems more from a lack of desire to listen closely to those who are not so forward.

I have many friends that are rather quite. They will inform you of everything you need to know, they just are not forward, firm, or loud about it. If I am tired, distracted, or not really paying that close of attention I usually always miss what they are communicating. This usually leads to friction, mis understandings and the need for scheduled conversations.

When it comes to listening, I feel that it is my job to listen in the language that the other communications, just as much as it is their job to realize the times when I may need them to spell it out in a bright neon sign instead of quite whispers.

The only issue, is that for those that are more quite or imply, I can also have the opposite tendency to pick up on things that they never intended. The whole picture needs to be in view. How do we learn? Only through experience.

Do you have any insights or stories of listening well to those who are more reserved?


Listening part 2 (this one is boring)

Listening can be very difficult. Not that there is any difficulty in actually hearing things, but in actually understanding. I am sorry to say that today I am rather un imaginative, so I hope that this is not to boring. But I see listening as taking on several parts, and all of these are realizations that I have had in the last few days.

I need to practice listening with my ears, as well as my eyes and body. Not only do I need to engage them with my whole person, posture and eye contact, but I also need to watch what they are communicating non verbally. I might miss something important.

I need to be comfortable with the relationship. If I am worried about losing a friend, or already concerned that the other person doesn’t like me, I start to think up many things that are not even a part of the conversation. Do they really mean what they say? Are they holding something back? Am I good enough?

Along with that, I need to be comfortable enough with myself that if they are wrong about something, that I am willing to let that go as I am listening. When I start to argue with them, in my own head, and defend myself, I stopped listening and starting fighting for what is mine.

I want to be the person who is a servant to others, who is willing to let what he wants go in order to be there for someone else.

It is only just recently that I realized, that in any good relationship there needs to be the security that even if something is wrong, (since we are human there always will be) we are confident in the character of the other person and the relationship itself. Trust truly is the foundation of any good relationship.


Listening

I was reading in a book recently about a peasant mercilessly beating his donkey that was laden with wood. The animal was tired and slowed, so the peasant whipped it. Eventually up a hill the animal gave up and just laid down. The peasant began to past whipping and just beat the poor animal. He was treating it as though it was a machine, not a donkey.

In the context of the story, he talked about how whenever we are dealing with a thing such as an animal or an idea, that we must know what we are dealing with. We need to know its limits, how it communicates, what it is supposed to do. We need to know what it can do, and what it can’t.

I immediately thought of relationships. I realized that recently in one of my friendships, that I wasn’t treating my friend as my friend. I shall call him Sue. I was treating Sue like Sandy, not like Sue. I was treating Sue how I wanted him to be able to behave, not how he was.

Of course, I expect those around me to want to grow and improve, especially if I am going to be close to them. But if I begin to treat say, a house bunny the same as a speedy wild jack rabbit, then I am going to cause nothing but problems.

In short I need to treat people as they are, as an individual who is unique with family background, genetics, a certain body, differing capabilities. To do that, I need to listen very carefully. With my ears, and my eyes. I am committing, and want to, be able to let myself go so I can really step into others. I will talk about listening in my next post.

If I want to be an effective lover, I need to know if I am loving a cat person, or a dog person, or a rabbit, or whale, or duck, or hippo or platypus. I especially need to know about the platypus because they have poisonous claws that can kill you.


Thankfulness

In my last post, I talked about my lack of faith, and calling upon God to help me, not in some transcendental psychic communication sort of way, but by whatever means he chooses.

Long ago I shared a post with the video that is at the bottom of this one. The basic summary of the video is that we can choose our attitude. If we write down at the end of each day three things we are thankful for and describe two positive experiences we had that day, we can change the way we see the world.

I tried this for a little while. But then gave up. I wanted so badly for so long to get back to the person that I used to be. I used to be so happy all of the time. Thankful to just be alive. Constantly asking myself how I can love the next person. Then life happened, I didn’t respond well, and a few sad events later and my internal monologue now has a really bad attitude.

Furthermore is the issue of who to be thankful to. As a Christian, I should be thankful to God. But what if I can’t see God’s hand in what I am thankful for? Yes, everything that exists is because of God, but does that mean we should ascribe thanks for the fact that the toaster didn’t catch on fire this morning? Is that an act of God? It seems trite to thank him for things that he may really not have that much care in (in future posts I will talk about the little things and God’s hand).

But, as I mentioned in my last post. If God is communicating with us in any way he chooses, then should we not be thankful for each good event that happens to us? In some way shape or form, Gods hand was in that. If someone smiled, I believe that the other person is in the image of God and I can be to God for their image. Give him worship. At the very least, I can be thankful that God is helping me to be thankful for things! Or allowing me to notice.

In short, I don’t have a complicated treaties of how I know that God is in everything, and I still don’t believe he is involved in everything. But as a child can be thankful to a parent for creating the environment that he can play in, even if he bought the toys with his own money, so I can thank God for my life that I am living. Especially when that life includes answers to my prayers.