we actually need each other

I don’t know what to title anything but what I do know is that the time I spend thinking about it could likely be put to better use. For example, I need to make a grocery list and put on real clothes. I’m certain that the phrase ‘real clothes’ never crossed my lips in 2019. Like, not one single time.

The good and the hard also came to mind. However, I have just enough immaturity and friends of the same variety to shove that aside. The thing is, though, that’s what’s on my mind.

There have been weeks in the last two years that every.single.day. was hard. Thankfully, those weeks are fewer but the reality is, there will still be hard days. And that’s pandemic aside. And I can’t talk about that right now. At all. Fine. Truth be told, I may allude to it.

Thankfully, there were only a couple days this past week that I would have preferred to crawl into one of the caverns that’s been created by all the freaking rain that we’ve had in the past three months to avoid what was feeling a bit too heavy. It was mostly in my professional world and as I may have mentioned in the past, that’s where my previous self believed if there was any place I could feel valued, it was in how hard I hustled on the job.

So I had to have the difficult conversations and feel the feelings that would come in advance as well as in follow-up. Here’s what I realized though; or rather, what I’ve been realizing more as I’ve been willing to put myself out there being both more vulnerable in sharing as well as receptive to what I sense is happening around me.

First, I listened. I’m sure you’re familiar with the passage in James about being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. I’m usually a bit better at transposing the verbiage and being quicker on that whole speaking thing. But as I’m listening, it’s been enlightening. Maybe even freeing? That space between the spoken word and the hearing and the processing is time. And quite often, I do believe, we just aren’t giving the words the time to be heard with appropriate intent. Which is usually … good. Do you hear me? Start listening.

Second, I just felt it. Remember how I said in my post where I just spilled the dang tea shared my story, that I forced myself to stop feeling things. Well, let’s just say that I’m not there any longer and I grew up being and am still am just not.good. at hiding my emotions. However, as a grown woman who needs to behave like a grown-up, I’ve become much better at how I navigate that. It might just be the part about being slow to become angry. Throw some slow to speak in there, too. I mean … I won’t lie; in certain instances, I can snap like a flippin’ rubber band. And probably say dumb things. But most of the time, you’ll see me tear up. And it’s FINE. It’s a reaction to hard things. And I believe wholeheartedly in emotions being not only felt but seen because it allows both the receiver and sender of information to determine how to move forward in a way that’s healthy for both.

Finally, I reached out. I texted my mom because that’s what you do (if you can. find a person who loves you unconditionally if your mom isn’t there. and i’m so sorry if she isn’t). I messaged my sister. I reached out to a colleague who always knows exactly what to say. I texted a couple friends. But then, I also decided to see real people and offer kind words. Here’s how that worked.

I went to the grocery store. Yes, I go often because I need one thing. Because my list is never complete and I have dementia. Leave me alone. Anyway. I was checking out and I wish that cashiers knew what they were up against when they ask the far too common, ‘how’s your day going?’ I feel bad for them. When M asked me at Harding’s, I said, ‘oof. it’s actually just been a hard day. and i’m kind of afraid of all that i’m hearing. i’m sorry! how are you?’ Her reply? ‘i feel you on that. i feel like i could cry right now.’ I reached my hand out and related, ‘you too?! it’s just so heavy isn’t it? m, i will pray for you. i’m just so sorry.’

M may not have cared one hill of beans about that interaction but I did. It changed the trajectory of my day. The next day, when I had forgotten the mustard, I was at a different grocery story and saw the back of a human as he walked in that I haven’t seen in YEARS. I debated for a second. I didn’t want to bother him but it had just been too long and I grew up knowing him as another dad. So, after I checked out, I chased him down and said hi.

That five-minute conversation felt life-changing. I’m serious. He’s going through a serious battle and yet? Had so much peace. He shared that God has a plan and he’s sure of that. And of course he wishes that He would be a bit more open about that. He also said that he understands when I shared some of what I’ve been challenged by. And we reminded each other that we’re actually only promised today so let’s just live into exactly where we are. And what we have. And find the gratitude and joy in that.

This might not feel relevant for you but I think the reason I started with needing each other is that I feel like we’re at that point again where I see divisiveness and anger and hate being thrown around like confetti. And I’m telling you right now … the enemy is having a field day with that. I don’t know what Jesus would have cared about in 2021 but I feel like it’s not the same things we are getting so worked up about. I think He would be devastated by friendships and families being ripped apart over disagreements. I think He would continue to ask that we pursue love and relationship. Did Jesus agree with everyone? OMG, no. Did He love everyone? I have zero doubt. And just like He loves us (still, I don’t even know how), He wants us to do the same with everyone else. Because on the hard days, and when Jesus seems all too quiet, there are humans in this world that He can and will still use to be His hands and feet. I met up with at least five of them this week.

letters to the editor

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