My dear Reader, I hope your Friday is currently all that a Friday should be. I am very glad you’re here with me; I’ve been having a rough time of it lately and I appreciate more than I can say your allowing me this space to think through some things.
This past Sunday was particularly tough; it was both a blessing and a curse that it was one of my preview-your-future-life-type days as I attended/participated in two services, Sunday school, and a pair of meetings for a total of nine or so hours spent at church. This is nothing, of course, to Intepreter’s 15 hours the same day, but then he may not be completely right in the head after 30 years of ministry. That much to do is a blessing because it pulls me out of myself and forces me to interact, consider, and think ahead. It’s a curse because I have to interact, consider, and think ahead—and doing those while concealing that I’m not fine takes a lot of energy.
Yes, I know, there’s the side understanding that this is my family and they love me and I should be free to let them know when I’m not okay and they’ll understand and yes, that is true and fine and well and good. Sometimes, though, it’s more energy than it’s worth to allow people to care about you like that, not in the sense that I don’t want people to love me (GRR ARG LOVE GRINCHINESS) but in the sense that there are a lot of reasons I may not be okay and I don’t have the space in my life/head right now to explain them to you. I love my church family and very much appreciate their open offer to be there for me if/when I need them, but I also know that if I say “I’m not okay” they’re going to say “Oh, what’s wrong?” and quite frankly I can’t have that conversation while I’m running from thing to thing to thing.
Does that make sense?
It is such a curious conundrum, Reader, that God puts us in relationship with each other and we insist on finding every possible way of making that as hard as we can imagine. We distrust each other, we misspeak to each other, we push on the wrong buttons and ignore the right ones, we assume so much. And it almost gets worse on Sundays for those of us heavily involved in church activity; we look right at each other and hurry to the next thing, and some days that’s exactly what needs to happen and some days we miss the person directly in front of us refusing to admit s/he’s not okay.
I don’t know what to do about that, Reader, I really don’t. I don’t know what to do about being called ever deeper into a relational faith when I have no real idea about how to be in relationship and am beginning to find that no one else fully does, either.
Lest you think this is a pessimistic Friday missive, however, let me tell you how Sunday ended and why I titled this the way I did. Sometimes, someone does know how to be in relationship and has the energy to do that. (I don’t fault anyone at all for knowing what to do but not having the energy to do it; there’s no way you can be effective in sharing someone else’s burdens if you’re totally depleted yourself. As a dear friend told me Wednesday because he’s much more insightful than he gives himself credit for, “Please, please, please, please be good to yourself.”)
So the last meeting that I had on Sunday let out at about seven, which is a totally respectable time. I had been rather quiet the entire meeting—and my fellow meeting people had noticed and been very kind about respecting my wish to get on with the meeting rather than acknowledge that my head was in seven other places—and Mr. Great-heart and I were among the last to leave. I was getting into my car when he rolled down the window of his minivan and said, “You are not okay. Come here, let’s talk.”
I recognized that he would not be dissuaded, so I climbed into his van and insisted he needed to go home to his family, that I was fine. I was not fine, he said, I was not fine at all and if I didn’t want to say why that was totally okay but he wanted to make sure I had that choice. He was there if I needed him.
We didn’t talk very long and I didn’t go very deep because he really did have to get back to his family; it was a long day for him, too. It was such an good thing, Reader, to be reminded that connecting to another doesn’t have to be hearing his/her whole life story. I hold a sort of Mother Confessor role for some of my coworkers and there really are times that they need to work through an entire mess of things that takes twenty minutes to explain. But that’s not always how it needs to work; there are some times when it really is just a friend reaching out to say you are seen, your being “off” is noticed. So much of the power of faith, I think, is following a Person Who says your name when everyone else forgets it—Who calls you to His minivan to make sure you’ll be okay for the night. When we open ourselves to that place, to extending the invitation to relationship as well as seeing and accepting it, we are living more fully into the Spirit that reshapes us.
This can also happen, in case you’re wondering, in a sedan.
A friend loves you all the time, and a brother helps in time of trouble. (Proverbs 17:17, NCV)