Wednesday, January 20, 2016

When you'd rather run and hide

It's always a bit awkward when you overhear or accidentally see something unkind about you that was never said to you. That you somehow know was not going to be mentioned to you either.

It hurts even though you know that it shouldn't.  You work hard and you love hard and you serve hard and a callous statement can send all that spinning into a vortex of insecurity and strife.

I had that happen.

I saw something that I didn't mean to see, that wasn't meant for me to see, that probably wasn't meant to hurt, though it did that job all the same. And when I saw it, we both played it off like I didn't.

I left and I could feel my heart beat straight out of my chest and my hands shook like an aspen leaf in a hurricane and I knew I couldn't just leave it because I would send myself into a place I didn't really want to go. You know that place. That place filled with self-condemnation and fear and insecurity and low self-esteem and a host of other unsavory untruths. That place where all of our previously won battles over insecurity and what people think about us are pulled straight up from the depths of whatever sea they were previously buried in and then held up for the whole world, or just you, to see and smirk at.

I had to be an adult and put on my big girl pants and face my fear and have a critical conversation.

For the record, critical conversations are not my favorite thing. I'm not sure I've ever met anyone who loves critical conversations because they happen when life gets critical. And who really wants to converse about what's critical when we're just trying to deep-breathe our way to the next moment without internally combusting?   Critical is by its very nature a very perilous path to traverse, but I'm learning it doesn't have to always be traumatic.

A word about critical conversations: They are hard and uncomfortable and they fill my heart with trepidation and fear. Until I have them. And then I find they can bring a great measure of what I call the beginning of peace. There's always that moment when we can run and lick our wounds and perpetuate the wounding by inflicting more wounds because instead of dealing with the mess by wading into it, we often leave the mess and later add to it.

We hinder healing by expecting others to come to us. The sad fact is that we are a part of a dysfunctional world and seeking confrontation in order to solve problems is not where most people go first. Most people talk to others about an issue and all the people involved in the issue--I call this gossip--and then never actually resolve the issue because they refuse to talk to the ones who are the issue--I call this avoidance. And all of it is unhealthy.

The Apostle Paul avoided talking about the issues in one church to another church. He wrote that church a letter and directly dealt with the issues. He didn't spread rumors or slander or judge. He spoke truth in love, didn't avoid the really hard stuff, and encouraged followers of Jesus to solve their problems in like manner.

I'm pretty sure Paul was a master of critical conversations.

Words can hurt. They have the power to create or to annihilate, to build up or to tear down, to offer grace or judgement, to speak truths or to promote lies. Words are no small thing. And the careless words we might speak or write or text or tweet or post can bring low, can blind side, a soul who had no idea that was coming. Who. had. no. idea. Who doesn't deserve the harshness those words convey. Period.

I've been here before.
I'll probably be here again.

It's not fun. But it is a good reminder. Of so many truths. Of so many graces.

What flows out of our mouths is often a refection of our hearts. So when we find ourselves in this predicament, the measure of our character is what we do with that predicament. The measure of our integrity is how we choose to behave and what we choose to say in that predicament. If we claim to be a Christ follower, then our actions, our words, our choices should resemble those of Christ...even when we've been wronged. Even when we've been hurt. Even when our flesh wants a pound of someone else's. Especially then.

I won't say my critical conversation was easy because it wasn't. My palms were sweaty, my stomach was roiling with nervousness, my heart hurt and I just kept telling myself that there's more to the story. There's more that I don't know. And I knew, I just knew, that if I faced my fears and had the conversation I would be able to sleep that night. I would be able to take a deep, gasping, purifying breath and exhale all this unease

And so that's what I did.
And sure I had to own my part.
And sure there was more to the story that I didn't know, that she didn't know.
But in the end, it was a conversation that ended far better than it began.
And I slept like a baby.

Grace always Rises,

P.S. Sweet sister-friends, I'm linked up today with Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory and Holley Gerth Coffee for your Heart. Join me over there for some encouragement!