Sunday, April 19, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close - chapters 12 and 13

Vulnerability and openness act as the soil that fosters security. (pg. 157)

In chapter 12, Don writes about a friend who cheated on his wife when their children were very young.  He chose to tell them what he did, once they grew old enough to understand. He believed openness and honesty would bring intimacy, and that secrets wouldn’t. He gave his children the power to reject him, not forgive him. “There are no shadows in our family,“ his friend says. “We don’t hide anything. But that’s a tough place to get to. It takes work and it’s painful.” (pg. 160)

I’ve seen firsthand what secrets can do to people. To friends. To family. It fosters gossip and rumors. Mistrust. Misunderstanding. And just so many hurt feelings. Because the truth comes out eventually. It may not be the full version of truth, if we insist on continuing to hide. But some or all measure of the truth comes out whether we want it to or not. This kind of half-truth secrecy is a major barrier to intimacy. Secrets create walls. Failure to communicate fosters separation.

“When you are with God, there is no darkness, no hiding, no pretending,” Paul said to Don, when telling him the story of their choice to tell their children what happened in their marriage.  And we must do our part to restore what has become broken in our relationships, he says.

We must do this even when it hurts, because all ourselves are out there, exposed to the light. Like when air hits a cut on our hand. It’s the only thing that can heal it, but man. Does it ever hurt.

"God is watching!” We’d hear the adults around us say when we were children. “So don’t screw up!” But instead, the truth should be that in God, there is no darkness, and you have the courage and freedom to be yourself. The light will heal the wound, not make it worse. Don‘s friend Paul understood this, and it’s why he chose to tell his children of the sin in his past. We will screw up. We are bad people. And yet we are offered forgiveness because our God loves us. He has set us free from the law of sin and death. This kind of forgiveness, this kind of openness, is scary.

I guess that’s why the book is called Scary Close.

“Honesty is the soil intimacy grows in.” (pg 168) and in this intimacy we are to be safe people for each other, offering the grace to screw up. And the love to push each other to be better. We are giving each other such power over our hearts when we allow this. Part of me is still struggling if this kind of openness hurts more or less than the hurt that accompanies a closed heart.

We can find an echo here in living inwardly or outwardly, which is ultimately where this statement:

“Grace over guilt”

takes us next.

“Grace over guilt.” These are the words from chapter 13 that stood out to me, the words of the gospel, the words Don has built his company on.

The words all the perfectionists of the world need to hear.

Grace over guilt.

Say them to yourselves over and over. Every day.

The premise chapter 13 seems to be that if we tend to live outwardly rather than inwardly, we will be more fulfilled. This is perfectly echoed in his company’s manifesto, where it’s stated that they believe in grace over guilt.

Guilt is inwardly focused. You make someone feel guilty because of how they've failed you. But if you offer them grace, it suddenly becomes about them and what they need and not you and what you want. The trick is getting them to accept and understand this outward focus, which is so counter-intuitive to our selfish and evil hearts.

God is dictating all of this for me right now, because every chapter I read is an eerie reflection of something I’m already in the process of learning, or is a forecast of what will likely happening in the next few weeks. I mean, did I not just post about navel-gazing and grace ?!?!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

the beauty and the mess of grace

I’ve been thinking about this word a lot lately.

Do you remember that scene in Evan Almighty when Morgan Freeman is talking to Noah’s wife and he says to her, “If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous?”


Sometimes the law is too easy for me. Because instead of comparing myself to Jesus and seeing my inability to keep the law, I compare myself to others and think how better I am at keeping the law than they are.

There will always be a tension between justice and mercy. I side with justice most of the time, probably because I grew up with the law being preached to me and not grace. I want others to feel accountable for what they've done. I want every moment to be a teachable moment, rather than just being present and offering grace. Yes. This is my greatest vice, and such a sin.

I am a failure. So are you. But in Christ, our failure does not condemn us. (Romans 8:1) This is not a verse for when we are doing a great job. This is a verse that speaks gospel truth to us when we are failing - when we are at our worst and in need of some grace.


What does it look like when grace grips us?

I can tell you what it does to me. When it grips me, my heart stops. My posture changes. My eyes close. My head shakes back and forth. All in an acknowledgement that I just don’t deserve what’s been given to me.

The tears come and my heart breaks with repentance. I see how I’ve broken God’s heart, how I’ve hurt others and


Grace grips my heart and my mind and my soul. I’m overcome because I'm just such a mess.

 “The love of God freely given to us in Jesus alone carries the power to awaken a response of love in our hearts toward one another.” Tullian Tchividjian

Though it has not been easy, and my heart is broken from those who’ve hurt me, God is using this mess to show me the beauty of grace. He is giving me opportunities to show grace to others. Because the law can’t change them. It can show them what is wrong… but it cannot woo their hearts into a place of brokenness and repentance. This is not my job; only grace can do this.

This is the single most difficult thing about being a Christ follower for me. Ignoring justice and giving grace because I have been given grace. This should be freeing. But instead I feel like a doormat and a sense of unfairness in a world that is all about being fair. But I am not called to live in the world’s economy. I am called to live in God’s.

God’s economy only has one currency: the grace of Jesus Christ. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close [the risk of being careful - chapter 11]

I remember being part of a ministry in college where we were trained to be mediators for our fellow students. We had a wonderful pastor and counselor train us during a weekend retreat each year. Showing us how to listen, how to manage conflict, how to do the hard things of life with our fellow students. Every year he gave us a poem. I have a copy in one of my scrapbooks. It’s about risk.

I haven’t thought about it for a while, but I remember it having a profound effect on me, which is why I’ve kept it all these years. There is so much emotional risk in what we are doing in this life with each other. And because there is risk there is fear.

I spent a lot of time in my thesis exploring fear for the learner and how it creates obstacles to learning. And sometimes even greater obstacles occur in fear-based learning in how the learner uses what they’ve learned. There are many contributing factors for transformational learning to take into account as a teacher – and one of the biggest, in my opinion, was climate. If the tone of the room, the attitude of the professor, the mood of fellow students isn’t safe, fear becomes an obstacle.

When Don was in a weird place with his writing, taking longer and longer to finish each book, a friend told him he was being too careful with his writing. (pg. 142)


I find myself repeating this word, letting it roll off my tongue slowly. Letting the sound of those two syllables make its way up to my ears and sink in. Deep.

I’m wondering about being careful.

Finding connection with another human is hard. That’s why we are so careful about it. We are careful who we invite in. This makes sense. Our hearts are precious commodities; they should be handled with care. This hard stuff goes beyond connection, though, and then makes its way to the most painful of all emotions for the perfectionist and overachiever: failure.

This fear… this disequilibrating fear that messes with our head and our heart and hands.

This fear that paralyzes us in the face of expectations and those we love.

This fear that stop us from trying.

This fear of failure makes us be careful.

And being careful hurts.

It might not seem like it as we do all our maneuvering, trying so hard to avoid and side-step the hard stuff that we just can’t deal with because we don’t want others to see our junk and we don’t want to fail others when they are so brave to show us theirs. Being this kind of careful hurts those who want you to stop avoiding and stop being careful and just want you...

to be there. [This is a weird kind of whisper, isn’t it?]

Everyone’s version of being there is different. I have one friend whose idea of being there for me means calling me every morning at 7:50 while I’m putting on my eye makeup and just checks in. (This might be a little much, but I love her for it.) Another friend’s version of being there is to send me stuff in a text that makes me laugh. Another's version of being there is sending me flowers. Another's is to take me to lunch or coffee. None of these are right and none of these are wrong. These are reflections of who they are and how they want to show me how much I mean to them. They are just being the friend they know how to be for someone who needs them.

There is fear that what you have to offer (your version of being there) and this is the fear that it just might not be enough.

The fear of being found lacking is profound. I think this is particularly true for men. The book, The Silence of Adam, has led me to this conclusion. A book that instead of depicting Eve as being deceived and then subsequently deceiving Adam, the book describes that Adam was there the whole time, yet said and did nothing. The author traces the problem with men to the silence with which Adam became complicit in the first fall from God's grace. Adam failed to trust in God's word and example, and modern men do the same when, instead of following God's example in dealing with uncertainties, they retreat into self-righteousness and toughness that mask anger and fear.

We fail each other. We’re human. We love, we hate. We get angry, we retreat.  We say things we regret, we do things we regret.

But if we become too careful about this, we risk something bigger than we can imagine.

[I] wonder if the time we spend trying to become somebody people will love isn't wasted because the most powerful, more attractive person we can be is who we already are, an ever-changing being that is becoming and will never arrive.” (pgs. 148-149)

We’re all still learning to love. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close - chapters 9 and 10

Deception in any form kills intimacy. (pg 103)

If you’ve been lurking around here at all in the last 18 months or so, you’ve probably realized that I’m working on living an authentic life. A lot. I don’t think that’s meant that I was living in deception before, but that I am working to tear down walls that have built up over the years as a result of being hurt, being deceived by the world’s wisdom that we must protect ourselves so we don’t get hurt. While I suppose a measure of my last comment is true, that we must protect ourselves, I also believe protecting ourselves can turn into a form of manipulation and deception. This is what I’m working on. And I’ll be honest, I feel like I’m screwing it up. Because it shouldn’t hurt this much, should it? People shouldn’t have this much power to hurt each other, should they?

But they do. And one of the many ways we do this to each other is identified in chapter nine as five categories of manipulators:

The Scorekeeper
The Judge
The False Hero
The Fearmonger
The Flopper

I’m wont get into the details of describing each of them. Some are self-explanatory, yes. But as I’ve mentioned before, I want you to read the book. J

I’ve read through this chapter several times, searching for myself, even trying to label people in my life as one of the five. I don’t know how wise this is… I worry how it might cause me to fear and mistrust people, looking for things that aren’t there. The one that seems most likely to be me is the Scorekeeper, but if you remember this post, I am great and keeping score. But I never keep score in order to call in those favors when I want to control a person.

That said, it’s pretty easy to find yourself in bits and pieces of all five manipulators. Perhaps they are like hidden parts of our personalities that surface during certain situations. (Or certain people bring it out in us.)

Here is why all this stuff about manipulators is so important, and he says it in the next chapter. “The deeper you fuse your soul to somebody, the more damage you do when you become a bomb.” (pg. 125)

When people hurt us and make us feel like we are less than, a bother, not worthy of them, it’s easy to fall into a terrible trap. A belief that we are not good for people. Several years ago, during the birth of the internet, I was totally hooked on one of those quiz websites and I remember taking a quiz called, “What’s your biggest fear?”

Turns out mine was not being good enough.

Still true.

As Don has grown with his wife and learned how to love because of her, she helped him believe that he wasn't just good, but great for people. “I realized that one of the reasons I’d been so isolated was because I’d subconsciously believe I wasn’t all that good for people… I wonder how many people are withholding the love they could provide because they secretly believe they have fatal flaws.”

Page 129 has a few ripples on it. These ripples were from my tears. Big stuff here.

I’ve been trying very hard to figure out how to be okay with not being good enough for people. I've been trying to learn how to be ok with failing them and screwing things up. I try to make it up to them… make amends with them… and, as I’ve written about before, I try to “hustle.”

I want to be done with all the trying and hustling but unfortunately it’s not in my nature because of my biggest fear. There is such a lack of gospel truth in this, it’s shocking. I get it all now, because Don has shown me that I am withholding love because I have fatal flaws.

Lots and lots of big ripples.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

this isn't about me

I’ve never been a great multi-tasker. When I am deep in a project, like today when my head is completely immersed in James 5:7-9, the phone rings and it’s some salesman from a publishing company wanting my business, I get a little irritated.

I’d prefer to just hole up, ignore the world, and finish my single task, thank you very much.

My, my. How very selfish of me.

The funny thing is, of all the behaviors that makes me most sick to my stomach, it’s selfishness. But of course, the nausea only comes when I see it in others. When I’m being selfish, it’s justified. I’m right and they are just plain wrong. Do it my way, I demand. I’m the one who’s hurting, I martyr. (Is that a verb? Nope? Too bad. I’m making it one.)  I’m the one who needs, I whine. I’m the one struggling and try to figure things out, I lament.

I’m the one who needs you to be this, do this, handle this, right now.

I was thinking about all my selfishness tonight (after pretty much thinking about it all day. Ahem.) I noticed that I have this friend who is always apologizing to me. Sometimes for the weirdest things. But they apologize frequently. Sometimes it’s because they didn’t do something they said they would do, or there was some kind of unmet expectation. Whatever the reason, I started thinking about why they apologized so much. Was it because I had such unfair expectations of them that they feel like they are always failing me? (Ouch.)

That’s really only a question they can answer. But it still got me thinking. Yes, there are times when they need to apologize. But even so, why am I focusing on what they are doing wrong so much? What about what I am doing wrong?

I’m being a lousy friend.

I’m so wrapped up in myself and what I am going through, that I just sit and wait for everyone else to check in on me. Instead of checking in on them.  And when they don’t, I feel sorry for myself. I vow to write them off and never speak to them again. (Okay... I might be exaggerating a little. But you get the idea.)

I’m pretty ashamed of myself right now.

Tonight while I was reading, I had NEEDTOBREATHE’s newest record on repeat, and these lyrics from the song Wasteland hit me particularly hard.

There was a greatness I thought for awhile
But somehow it changed
Some kind of blindness I used to protect me
From all of my stains
Yeah I wish this was vertigo
But it just feels like I'm falling slow

I was blind to my sin and the scales were starting to fall away from my eyes. Needless to say, the grieving began. I will spare you the details. They aren’t pretty. (I really need to invest in some good waterproof mascara.)

Ok. I get it. The 2x4 has officially smacked me and the welt on my head is pretty swollen. Pardon me while I stop thinking about myself for a while. It will be a nice change of pace.

Monday, March 16, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close - chapters 7 and 8

Do you ever get tired of trying?

I do. I get tired of trying to be more than I actually am. Tired of being the one who presses. Tired of being the one who is desperate. Tired of being the one who is always drowning, asking for help (But no one can hear her.)

Tired of the hustle. Tired of caring about those who don’t care back.


Chapters 7 and 8 really made me understand this.

The people we chose to love can destroy us, because true intimacy can only happen when we give up control and allow someone to destroy us, forgive them when they do, and hope they forgive you when you need to be forgiven.

I seem to be good at choosing and loving those who make me try. A lot.

And how much do I make people try for me? (I really don’t want to pull at that thread.)

As Christ-followers, we can mistake enablement for grace, and Don tells us that our hearts are worth protecting. How do we balance this with grace? These are truths I’ve known for a while, far before I read chapter 7. But I still don’t fully understand how to balance grace with protecting my heart. This is something I’ve been desperate to figure out most of my life.

This is perhaps because of my ridiculously high sense of justice. I prefer to be right rather than to be in the relationship. Yet I will feel every hurt of that broken relationship until it very nearly kills me.

The heart of the problem and the essence of the solution, says my fellow writer, Kansas Bob, is that I am still learning to love. One of the many things love is about is that expresses what we are about. And we make time for what matters to us. If you don’t make time for me, you don’t love me enough to matter. This is how I feel. I’m not proud of it. But it is how I feel.

The process of learning to love and be loved by someone, Don writes, is a “slow and natural process.”

So I guess I’m trying too hard.

But what about the truth that love is a decision? Does this not imply there is trying in the midst of it somewhere?  And when do you stop trying, set down all the baggage that person has given you and just walk away?

I never really thought I was that controlling of a person. But perhaps I am. The next chapter is about manipulators. I pray I don’t find myself there.

I’m still tired, guys.

Monday, March 09, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close - chapters 5 and 6

I’m just gonna be straightforward: I hate chapter 5. I hate it because it’s about change. And fear.

I’m going through a lot of change in my life right now. Most of the relationships in my life have changed recently. My job is changing significantly. My job has always been a bit chaotic, and so I relied on my relationships to get me through. To be the steady part of my life…  the ease that I needed in the midst of a lot of unrest. And most of these relationships have shifted significantly or are simply gone. So the change in my life has been magnified by being alone with it all.

Never have I felt so lonely. And never have I felt so scared.

“What else keeps us from living a better story than fear?” Don asks. (pg. 41)

Not all of chapter 5 is about fear. There is more stuff in the chapter that is painful, like his realization that our flaws are the way in which we receive grace. And that perfectionists think the world will only love them when they are perfect.

But then he circles back around to fear, connecting risk and love to fear and the unknown.

I hate chapter 5.

I hate it because it’s all things I’ve heard before. Some a LONG time ago. I hate that it doesn’t seem as though much has changed for me in this area. I still struggle with conditional love, believing people don’t love me for who I really am. I still am afraid to take risks because I am far more afraid of rejection than I am of pretty much anything else.

Oh, and I hated chapter 6, too.

Because in chapter 6 Don tells about his inner and outer self. His outer self being him at age 9, and 9 year-old Don was expected to perform for the world.

I don’t really have a clearly defined inner and outer self, though I know I need to spend more time really thinking about it. But I do know there are certain people who don’t get the outer me – the façade. I’ve chosen to trust them with the real me.

Do you have any idea how much it hurts to put yourself – your real self – out there with someone only to not get what you need in return?

You probably do. We all have. I feel like I am living that just about every day, because the people I’ve shown my real self to are the ones who are leaving and changing and not with me anymore. So I have to start all over with some new people, I guess. That hurts my heart. A lot. It was hard enough the first time.

“God is going to reveal me as a flawed human being as fast as he can and he’s going to enjoy it because it will force me to grapple with real intimacy.” (pg. 56)

Yep. And all the hurt and risk that goes with being rejected for your flawed self.

This risk and rejection is real, and it also requires wisdom. “The ones we tend to stay in love with are, in the long run, the ones who do a decent job living us back.”

I once told a friend, who said he wanted to be enough for me, that life and friendship wasn’t about being enough. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe it is. Maybe it’s about being yourself and showing up. Maybe it’s about showing that you care by doing a decent job of loving each other back.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close - chapters 3 and 4

We all have a façade.

Maybe because everyone does, it makes having this façade seem more acceptable in our minds. But the more I think about it, the angrier I get.  I don’t want the façade a person puts in front of me, and I really don’t want the façade of someone I’m close to and love dearly. I want them.

I think this should profoundly shape how we understand love.

About 10 years ago, I was emailing back and forth with someone who’d given me some really good advice on a message board (anyone remember those? It seemed that’s all the internet was back then.) We continued conversing over the course of several months, sharing struggles and life with each other. And he told me a story that I’ve never forgotten.

One day he was sitting on the kitchen table with his mom and he asked her why she loved his dad. She went on to list all of his wonderful qualities, the things he did that made her happy, made her smile. “He’s a great dad…. He cares for others so much… he makes me laugh… he’s there for me… he keeps his promises.”

All these are great things, and certainly revealing of one’s character. But after more digging he said, “Those are just the things he does. Why do you love him?” and after some thought, she seemed to understand what her son was really asking. She looked him right in the eye, shrugged, and said “I don’t know, honey. I just do.”

What does this have to do with the façade we all have and understanding love? Because the façade is just the things we do that we think will make us more palatable to the world. But this isn’t truly who we are.


Because, come on. This is something to pause about.

While I believe that love results in a series of decisions you make, I also know love is about connection… connection that often doesn’t make sense and can’t be explained.

“Why do you love them?”

“I just do.”

In chapter 3 of Scary Close is Don sharing about his time at Onsite, a Nashville retreat center providing workshops to help a person heal and grow. In his time there he learned we create a false self to cover our shame. This is the performer, the character we play in the theater of life. There is usually some skill or characteristic that we believe we make us likable to the rest of the world, and that is the characteristic we put on our outer self. This is the façade.

It’s at this point that I realize where Don will be taking us during this book. He is taking us on a journey to more fully accept our story. (Accept seems to be the key word here.) Our story is integral not just to understanding where we’ve been in our lives, but in understanding who we are. Who we actually are.

“Sometimes the story we’re telling the world isn’t half as enduring as the one that lives inside of us.” (pg.  22)

Chapter 4 is more of Don’s Onsite story, where he discovered that at a young age a “pleasure chemical” seeped into him when he was told his writing was smart. They weren’t allowed to tell each other what they did for a living while there, and he realized that our jobs are like wearing costumes. We use the things we do to sound impressive to the world.

But that isn’t who we are. We aren’t what we do, yet this is what we use to show ourselves to the world. We are afraid that who we are minus what we do isn’t enough.

There seems to be an honest acknowledgement of this truth at this point in the book, but it’s more understood than actually named. (This is a true characteristic of Don’s writing, now that I think about it.)

But how do we really love another? It is because of what they do? Or who they are? Don doesn’t answer these questions, but they are implied. It’s all part of the journey he is taking us on.

“I began to wonder what like would be like if I dropped the act and began to trust that being myself would be enough to get the love I needed.” (pg. 35)

How can this not profoundly affect how we understand love?

I know I keep saying this, but seriously… guys. Whoa.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

safe people

After taking some time to process unsafe people in this post:

...I’ve had to time to read more in the Cloud and Townsend book about what safe people look like, and more importantly, how to become a safe person.

A safe relationship is one that draws us closer to God, draws us closer to others, and helps us become the real person God created us to be. This is a mere echo of discipleship, Cloud and Townsend say, knowing that our greatest call in life is to love God, love others, and grow into the person God created us to be.     
From pages 144-146 of “Safe People” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend:
A safe person is:
  • Someone who gives me the opportunity to grow
  • Someone who increases love within me
  • Someone who allows me to become the me that God intended
  • Someone whose life touches mine and leaves me better for it
  • Someone who offers us grace and is honest with us
As I finish up this book, I'm also reading Scary Close by Donald Miller and I'm finding there are many echoes, as Miller references Safe People a few times. (I find it interesting and probably quite providential on God’s part that I started to read Safe People a few weeks ago since I’ve owned it for two years… then Miller’s book was released and because I was so excited to read it, I am reading both at the same time.)

Here has been the biggest take away for me in being a safe person, especially in light of what I’ve read so far in Scary Close:

Safe people are simply people that have the ability to connect with us.  Unsafe people don’t.

I resonate with this so much, as someone who just doesn’t connect with people easily. There are a lot of reasons for this, some of which are part of my personality type and some are simply parts of my story. So I feel like the pool of people I have to draw from is really small, because in the midst of the people I do connect with, some are unsafe. And they are unsafe in that they don't connect with me.

And I think where I struggle with living this out is what to do when you feel more connected to someone than they do to you. This is where all the unsafe person stuff starts to come out… because look at this list, from chapter 12, on how to become a safe person:
  • Learned what you’ve gained (what the other person has given you)
  • Learn your friends’ “need signal” (Learn to cue in on their emotional presence)
  • Ask to help
  • Be there
  • Tell the truth
  • Go into the world (get out of your safety zone and help the lonely, the oppressed, the less fortunate.)
I think we all have people in our lives that we feel a connection with but that still aren't there when you need them, and that haven’t learned our need signals. I certainly don’t expect my friends to read my mind, but I will never forget when, in the summer of 2012, my friends picked up on the needs signals that I did not even know I was giving off and made sure I didn’t permanently crawl inside of myself. You can read about it HERE

It was the first time some friends actually put aside something and cared just for me. Without me asking, for no reason other that to help me. I honestly could not remember a time when anyone had never done that. Which is really sad, when I think about it, but I am still thankful for that day and that puzzle and that coffee. Perhaps it set a standard; an understanding in me that THIS is what love looks like. It draws close to you when you are drawing far away.

They told the truth – that they were worried about me and that they felt left out because I wasn’t telling them what was going on in my heart. There were there for me and they helped. They saw my need signal and did something about it.

As my regular readers know, a lot of work has happened in my heart since then, and I’m doing better to be vulnerable and ask for help when I need it. I’ve told the truth, even when it hurts, and I’ve reached out even though it felt desperate and embarrassing. I’ve done the hard work of connecting with those I care about.

Some have responded well and some have not. I only reached out to those I connected with, believing them to be safe. As I figure out this tangled web of intimacy and connection with people who are under NO obligation to be intimate and connect with me, I can’t help but wonder if there is any way to not be hurt in all this. Because this is pretty much the whole reason why it’s been so hard for me this last year: I had grown weary of being hurt and closed myself off from others in order to avoid this hurt. And here I am am, still hoping to avoid the hurt. Because I’ve experienced it yet again. 

It kinda feels like I’m darned if I do and darned if I don’t. 

And the darned if I do hurts a lot more.

when i've realized what i've lost

“What’s the latest?” texted my Nashvile friend, one of my nearest and dearest. She did two workshops at a conference that weekend, but she remembered that I texted her the Wednesday  before, with  a picture of a wine glass, telling her it was a bad day. (She really likes wine.)

Every Monday night I drive to Tucson to attend a class through BSF, and the nights get long. The trip is about an hour and the class is two, so I’m gone from 8am to 10pm on that day.

So I called her after getting her text, and we spoke the whole hour as I drove. And I cried the whole hour. I seriously don’t know how I have any tears left in me.

So I told her how I resolved to take on joy for Lent and that the first day of Lent was one of the saddest days I’ve ever had. That juxtaposition just seemed unfair.

She and I are going through some very similar things in our lives. So she gets it. And she was able to, in only the way that she could, name so many things for me as I kept my hands on my steering wheel and drove down I-10 and let the tears fall and fall.

She spoke of what I’d lost. She spoke of the people she knew I used to have in my life and how those relationships were changing. And how most of them were now completely absent. She spoke of the warfare I was up against and then she said it.

“You are just facing so much loss right now. And you are alone.”

I knew what she meant and she knew I knew what she meant.

Those that meant the most to me, who are right here in Arizona, are gone. They are gone for a variety of reasons, but this beautiful safe group of people that I used to see all the time, that I used to have around me, that I used to hear from regularly… that made me feel as though I was in their life for good… they are just gone.

On top of everything else I am dealing with, this is pretty damn awful.

And not only am I grieving so very much for this, but I cannot let them go. I know that I need to, because they are clearly done with me. But I just can’t. I don’t want to. I don’t want to do to them what they’ve done to me.

I don’t know if they are gone because of a deliberate choice, or if they are just busy, or they just aren’t thinking about what their absence has done to me… I don’t know. But it honestly doesn’t matter because I feel alone. I am alone. You make time for what you see as important and I guess all I really want is for one of them to see me as important enough to make time for.

I don’t believe I’ve ever felt this way in my life and it is the single most devastating and powerful emotion I’ve ever felt. Parts of it crept up on me last fall and I wrote about it a few times. But the full force of it has now hit me. I know who my real friends through all of this… and I’ve only got one left who lives here. I feel like a shell of my former self.  I miss me. I'm grieving. It hurts.

But most importantly, I miss them. I wish I could have the chance to make it all right again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close - chapters 1 and 2

“I’d have to know myself and be known.” – Donald Miller, Chapter 1, Scary Close.

Sound familiar?

I’m, of course, not accusing Don of plagiarizing me. That’s ridiculous. But when I read this, my heart stopped. Because it’s what in learned in 2013 after a very long and intense bible study. (Click HERE to read that story) and then became the subject of the workshop I did at the 2014 Women2Women conference.

And, subsequently, became the reason 2014 was one of the worst years of my life.

Not because I let myself be known, exactly. But because those people, to which I loved the most and I let myself be known, left. There were only a couple of people that it really mattered to for me, which is why I chose them.

And then it got too hard. I screwed it up. They screwed it up. We tried to move on, but it hasn’t really worked. Because when someone knows who you really are and they decide you aren’t worth it, that open heart you laid at their feet is no longer protected. And that’s why it hasn’t worked to move forward. Trust was gone. Pain rose to the surface. And like Don shares about his wife, she is wired to withhold trust until it is earned. The problem was that I thought those I chose had earned my trust.

I’m apparently a pretty bad judge of character in this arena.

[Or, you know, maybe I need to just learn how to offer more grace to people and accept that relationships ebb and flow.]

[But, like Don’s wife, I lay a foundation with trusted friends and family. And to those people I am ferociously loyal. I don’t like to give up. When I love someone, I need to fight for them. But then when I fight too hard without getting signs from them that they still love me, I start to feel desperate. Then I withdraw.]

Do you see how confusing this is for me?

Don opens up in his first chapter about how he was afraid that people wouldn’t love who he was while he was in process, so the real him hid backstage, and he pushed another part of himself forward to perform for the world.

In chapter two, Don took me down with his authenticity about his own brokenness. He shared about a painful broken engagement, and the realization of unhealthy patterns he had. Patterns so careless, “it could level a heart.” (pg 11)

But he encounters someone who defines friendship at its very core. He finds someone who could speak truth to his heart so much so that his patterns are revealed. He begins to break even further so that he can be put back together. And that friend showed up and was willing to wade through the mess of Don’s soul with him.

[We all need friends like this. Don’t we?]

I won’t tell you the story, because, well, I think you should read the book. But also, because tears.

Seriously… guys. We’re just done with chapter two. I’m exhausted.