I’m not one for conflict. Yes, I’m outspoken and like to be heard yet I dislike when a debate cannot happen in a civilized matter. I can debate any issue handed to me. I can debate both sides of a given situation. It’s a gift to be able to understand both sides of an argument and calmly discuss it when people disagree with my position.
Lately there has been some controversial rumblings at the church I attend. As disheartening as it is to hear people speak in anger, I don’t have the energy right now…wow, typing that out sounds like a very lame excuse. Anyway, I just don’t have it in me to try to convince people that what the church leadership is doing is only in their best interests.
I’ve had a few very long conversations and all I can do is pray that the people involved open more than their ears to what is being said. I would love for them to open their hearts, their minds, their entire being to what is actually being said.
What they seem to be hearing is, “I’m telling you how to live your life because I’m better than you.”
What they aren’t hearing is, “Because I love you, I want what is best for you. You deserve all the great things you long for and I want those things for you as well. If something is worth having, it’s worth working for. Love often includes sacrifice. That sacrifice does not and should not include your values and beliefs.”
I’ve dated a few times since my divorce and each time things always ended the same. I felt unloved, unappreciated, and more lonely than when I was single. The common denominator in each situation was myself. In each situation I had sacrificed my core values in an effort to make the other person happy.
What I have known all along, yet struggle to remember and live by, is that the right man for me will accept me just as I am. He will be willing and able to have the tough conversations. He would never want me to think I had to do something against my beliefs in order to keep him.
The right man will have some of the same struggles I have and we will hold each other to a standard higher than our own. We will use the resources at our disposal to remain strong in our choices.
Does this make me better than anybody? No, it is just a choice I make for myself. Does it make me happy? Honestly, not always. It is not easy to hold myself to a standard I am not used to.
I don’t have to hold myself to the standard on my own though. That’s why I have friends, and a leadership team at my church who continually hold me to a standard higher than my own. My standards can depend on my mood; my friends and loved ones however have a much brighter view for me. They want to see me happy forever, not just a few weeks or a month or how ever long.
When your friends or family or church leadership have a tough conversation with you, open your heart. Listen to their motive. If you don’t understand their motive, ask.
My pastors know exactly how to get into my heart. We are lucky that way. I never see the hard talks as a beat down or lecture; always as love and a lesson. I never go in to their office or open an email from them thinking they are just trying to run (or ruin) my life. I can’t imagine that sending me a message reminding me that the f-bomb is unnecessary when I’m obviously upset about something is at the top of their Fun Things I Want to do Today list.
HAHA, I can actually picture Matty sitting at his computer the first time he sent me a reminder something to the effect of I didn’t live there any more and nobody had the right or the power to drag me back there.
Can you imagine? Here I was, newly divorced, diagnosed with cancer, and obviously upset spewing online with hate and venom. I wonder now if he and Ben and Jeff sat down and said, “Well somebody has to say something…”
Apparently Matty pulled the short straw that day and he sent me a message. I could have responded in anger yet I knew what he was saying was in love and with a respect for me that I didn’t have for myself at the time.
I’m sure he was waiting for an f-bomb infused response. I could have decided that the church was against me just being myself. I could have walked away.
Instead I cried, I apologized for letting myself down and thanked him. I know tough love is hard. How do you know if you are truly loved if you are never questioned? How do you grow if you aren’t challenged. How do you answer a call when you aren’t listening.