Some pretty interesting things have happened over the past couple of days. I wasn’t sure what name to give this post initially, as I had a couple of working titles; but I shall try and work them into this post as best I can.
I think I’m a really cool person. At least I think so most of the time. I pretty much thank God for making me Me on a regular basis. I wouldn’t wish to be anyone else (anymore). I quite enjoy being myself.. that is, most of the time. Those days I don’t, I wish I was different.
What does that mean anyway..?
I used to consider myself just a tad different, then weird. Now I just smile when people look at me and say there’s something rather unusual about me. A breath of fresh air? Perhaps. I smile.
But then, those days I smile less, I’m really just wondering.
For you see, sometimes I really don’t want to be different, stand out. I just want to blend, disappear.
I’m seeing this especially in light of (close) friendships these days. I guess that’s why I find it so extremely needful to regularly come back home. Home being more than just the four walls within which I grew up in; more than just being with my family, my church, my friends, walking through my beautiful city. I’ve come to realize home to be wherever I can truly be me.
Sometimes you really do feel like you’ve found a home, just to be shown otherwise. There is something about old wine. The familiar. As much as I enjoy finding new associations and settling into new accommodations, I enjoy being me, feeling free.
Just a couple of days ago I had the rare privilege of meeting up with an old group of friends. Looking around the hall within which we had gathered, I could not help but experience an overflow of mixed emotions. With all the new(crazi)ness of everyone’s life and stories, there was safety within those four walls. An air of acceptance. Many of their personal choices I could simply not agree with, many of their decisions I could not help but frown upon; and yet, there was an air of safety. Acceptance. Love. We could all feel free. Here it was okay to be me. Even in the midst of immodesty, there was profound security.
But there was no Christ.
And so I was forced to once again look around, through detached eyes. Taking a step back. Why was it that safety and acceptance was more available outside, than it was inside the church?
I really doubt it has anything to do with God’s high standards (as His highest really is love) and all with man’s inability to show it. Especially within the household of believers.
An important, often overlooked/over-read part of a very popular scripture came to mind here..
21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.
24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.
26 Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”
29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”
30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
“No,” he said.
How many of us are like Balaam? We’ve walked with a friend over years, know him, love him, respect him, and yet- the first thing we do when we believe that friend to be in the wrong or guilty of having wronged us, we strike. We strike physically, verbally, emotionally. Feeling abused, we abuse, or often simply walk away without a second thought. Offence.
We do not stop and ask “What could possibly have happened to him/her? What is really going on?” but are quick to say, “Who does s/he think s/he is? I don’t need him/her anyway. I will not have him/her treat me like this!”
Many of us do not really love at all. Not in the sense of God’s love anyway. And worse than this, we have never truly learnt what it means to forgive.
This perhaps holds even more truth within the body of Christ than it does outside; for another thing I have had to come to terms with, is the fact that although we have found it easy (second nature) to repent of our sins and call upon the Lord for forgiveness, we find it exceedingly difficult to ask it of man. We find it difficult to admit to faults and apologize.
We experience disappointments and keep scores. We weigh right versus wrong, and once the scales do not weigh even any more, we decide it to no longer be worth our while.
And of course, we do have expectations and aspire to live up to certain standards; however, should we fall or fail, we cover up. We try hard not to be seen. To hide behind the mantle of God’s love, mercy and grace; and we expect man to do the same. To simply overlook and move on. You see, we all too often forget that man has been given the mandate, as His highest call, to love another just as we love God.
Some of us have taken the love for others not seriously enough.
A friend of mine had as his status, “Thank you God for wisdom, blessings, and humility” and I could not but chuckle; I want to believe I did so for very obvious reasons.
I know this friend of mine, and I like him. But truth is, I’ve seen very little of these three aforementioned qualities in him. Don’t get me wrong: not in comparison. I couldn’t care less to compare my virtues to/with his, but in very loose and general terms: man most often thinks of himself a bit too highly.
We generally think of ourselves as just a tiny bit more virtuous, better mannered and of better intentions than others. Although we wish to either not be judged at all, or -if must be- be judges based on our goodly intentions, we are ever so harsh in condemning others for their actions and their resulting consequences. We are alright to make allowances for our very own short-comings but not that of others.
Of recent, the Lord has been showing me things. He hasn’t uttered a word, hasn’t given me clear instructions, but has opened my eyes. In this season, He is speaking to me by showing me. Teaching by examples. I am learning.
Over the past couple of days I have reconnected on so many levels, with a handful of old friends. Friends I thought I might not see or speak with again; friends I believed had only been meant to be present for a season. And although that might have been the case, He has chosen to connect us again- even if only for another reason or season.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that at times you need to hold on. Sometimes it is needful to end a friendship, while at other times the virtue lies in holding on to one. To not allow someone else’s weakness get in the way of love; to not allow your own shame, pain or pride get in the way of holding on. Sometimes, there is very little virtue in moving on really; no strength of character, no ability to remain steadfast. Friendship, just as most things good, comes at a price. And sometimes, the virtue lies in you paying the price on someone else’s behalf. In allowing a score be settled in the other person’s favour, without keeping records.
But never grudgingly, and never coerced.