Wednesday, August 10, 2016

for when you need to stay close

Nearly every serious thought that comes out of my mind through my hands onto a paper or screen is in reality just an end to or part of a long trail that has been mixed up and twisting around for weeks, days, months, or sometimes longer.  The writing down of it is as much a release of built up contemplation as it is a processing of what has been formulating over time.  

Madeline L'Engle did say "If I could talk about it I wouldn't have to write it." and there lies my problem many times when need for conversation arises.  For me, verbal debate is usually out of the question as others would grow tired of the hours or days in waiting for the processing of information to go from my mind, to my fingertips with keys or pen, then back out of my mouth, most likely with tears because you know the talking out loud about something pretty much pushes me over the emotional edge.

It's hard to convince someone else to let you write a few paragraphs in response while they stare at you instead of just saying out loud what you want to say.  Believe me I've tried and the result is seldom what I actually "want" to say and results in a corrective email or text later that day.  Lucky for me the current debate in my mind is only taking place with myself and I very much understand the need for both sides of the argument to have their processing time so no one is having to hum the jeopardy theme aloud to move things along.  I should add that there is also no talking back and forth out loud in different voices either just in case you have a weird Smeagol/Gollum picture in your head right now.

For the past little bit I have been flipping and flopping on a topic, playing devil's advocate with myself, until I come today with no real answers but maybe, perhaps, a way to ask the right questions.
I have mentioned before that if there was a soundtrack to my life Sara Groves would indeed be the voice behind it.  With almost all thoughts from the past along with the present ones stirring about, a second guess girl personality emerges from me on a regular basis.  There always seems to be a but or however--which is really just a fancy but--that can be used to turn a solid argument into a conflicting solid argument.  It's quite annoying at times.

The topic at hand is staying close.

A sweet young lady and friend spent the summer being an intern in Romania with a ministry Zach and I support wholeheartedly.  We have had the pleasure of going twice to love on and support both the missionaries there and the Romanian and Roma people and have come back each time with a better sense of how God loves both us and His children around the world.  However, as much as I love the people and work that is done there, it is hard to retain the same fervor for it when the distance between places is so great.  Hence began my debate.

While Romania was the trigger for the initial trail, anything I have been invested in throughout life qualifies as an experience this debate speaks into.  As you may have guessed, the first thought was that for the light not to dim, for the passion not to grow cold, one must stay close, stay engaged, immerse yourself into the relationship.  

Whether the relationship at hand is with a ministry, people group, activity, child's school, spouse, friend, or family member, it is relatively impossible to continue passionately supporting and loving it without not only keeping in touch but letting yourself feel compassion as well.  Picture what it is like to be in their shoes, try to understand how the day to day must work, must feel like, the pressures that are put upon, the more knowledge and understanding you have the more you are able to effectively help and support and the more those actions don't come from a sense of duty but a sense of the desire to love another and love them well.  

My mind was made up and I was ready to go forward when a pesky voice in the back was wondering but what if you are so busy engaging deeply in the people and things you want to engage in that you forget there are others around.  And so started the other side, can staying close harm more than it helps.

Zach and I are in the middle of binge watching The West Wing.  Neither of us have ever seen it and though it has been recommended by more than one friend for over a decade it hasn't been until the summer that we hit play on episode one.  Since then there have been few nights where we haven't watched at least one-or three-before falling asleep.  Before an extensive rabbit trail is taken let's just say we absolutely love it and much prefer watching Jedediah Bartlett's campaign to any of the others we are forced to notice.

However, another thing that can be noticed, is the danger of immersing yourself so much into one thing.  Yes, you can not base an argument over fiction, but fiction is taken from real life experience and this is not a graded debate so let's move on.  There are a reason why cliques form in a variety of places from childhood to adulthood.  We like when people agree with us.  We like when people think the same way,  We love when our thoughts and opinions are affirmed by those milling around so our innate desire is to stay close to what we know and who we agree with so that our personal world looks orderly.  In the meantime we, purposely or as a side effect, build a fence to block out everything else. And we are none too fond of another coming in to try and shake it all up.

So here I am straddling the fence of pros and cons of staying close and stepping back and realizing that for once the answer doesn't really lie somewhere in the middle in lies within it all.  The answer to the question do you stay close or step back is yes you do.  

You stay close when you fill God calling you to relationship with a certain place, a certain person at a certain time and you give them your all just as you except theirs in return.

You step back when the idea your fighting for overpowers your ability to think of others' needs above your own no matter which side they are on, when the only voice you hear is your own instead of your Creator's.  You step back when the good thing you were doing has now become a ruling thing in your life.

So yes, you do both.  Is it easy?  Well obviously not, nothing is, but asking the right questions is always worth it because eventually the whys will lead you down to the source of the One who gives you Hope.

There will always be another who does not share the same opinion, same values, same beliefs.  To ignore them is to ignore a huge part of the world God created.  More often than not, when I have the ability to engage in conversation with or visit a place that is much different than myself, it does not necessarily change my core beliefs unless they are needing to do so, but it always opens my heart up to another's and allows grace to build up and flow out all the more.

When all the voices around you are similar, the views around you are similar, the arguments are all one sided, it is forgotten that not only are their other opinions, but some of them may be valid.

Thought it may seem me like fighting a raging fire with a squirt gun, it also seems as if so many of our human struggles would come to naught if we just do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit [but] rather, in humility value others above ourselves (Phil.2:3), but that might be a topic for another day.

Myself and many others I know are starting a new season and will have to make tough decisions on how to stay close to past while opening up to future, giving up the cliques we know to see the others who might have been blocked before, but the best thing about all of this is staying close to your Father who loves you, Jesus who saved you, and the Holy Spirit who guides you is always the best option and will always lead you to the way everlasting.

Pray for me as I stay close to Him, I'm praying for you.

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