It’s remarkable how we are transformed by the crucibles which God uses to refine us.
I know. Redundancy abounds.
I needed to learn to be gentle. Compassionate. Thoughtful. Careful with the relationships around me.
Soooo…. God allowed me to be surrounded by people who where unkind, dishonest, cruel even. People who thought only of their own gain at the expense of anyone around them. Men and women without conscience.
And I allowed myself to be swallowed up in their agendas, to further their goals at the expense of my own morality.
After several years that doesn’t sting quite as badly as it used to. I now feel compassion for them. They are so lost. So fooled into believing that their ends justify their means.
No matter what. No matter who gets lost and trampled.
The only tragedy in my life, in regards to these people, is if I refuse to relinquish my right to be offended. If I white-knuckle my grip on the unjustness and unfairness of the time spent being offered up like so much Spam on a plate.
I gave up so much to be ok during those years. I gave up time with my sons when they were younger. You don’t get 5 and 7 back. No matter how hard that you try. And that matters. No matter how hard you try to convince yourself it doesn’t.
I squandered the abilities, gifts, talents, hopes and dreams that God had given me at the altar of their own making.
And we were bitterly repaid. By them.
And, strangely enough, after all this time?
I’m completely ok with it. They are God’s problem and my only prayer for them is that they would submit to His process now before they are crushed beneath the consequences of their own behavior later.
How can I be so weirdly ok?
Well, I have learned a measure of compassion for those who wander away from Truth and speak emphatically about their new “toy”. I have learned to be gentle with those who are seeking. As a result of being battered by people who saw nothing wrong in abusing the privilege of friendship and relationship I have learned to be much more deliberate and gracious with those who are in my life.
I have still so much to learn. I have been much of a recluse in many ways over the last several years. It is deeply ingrained within my nature, human nature that is, to isolate myself. When I am alone I can control what happens. I can steer my own course with little or no regard or reaction from anyone. I can gauge the impact, the pain, and the risk of interaction with others. It is part of my coping mechanism and part of what helps me feel “safe”.
Only God knows the seasons, right? It is as though He flipped a switch in me near the beginning of September. I went from brown-out to “On”. I have engaged in far more in the last month than in the past years.
Not that it is going to be easy.
I am aware that without a concerted and focused effort to be warm and engaging, I appear cold and calculating to those around me. I will, quite easily, fall into some of the same relational pitfalls I’ve endured in the past.
I’m trying. Folks usually like me at first but, in my opinion, find me exhausting after a short while when they realize that my brain never shuts off. Or shuts up… Whatever.
This last Spring, on a walk with the dog, I had a conversation with God. It was a conversation where I finally let go of some fear and insecurity that had been hanging on my like a Centuarian Slug. (Bonus points for vague Star Trek reference.)
The conclusion of the conversation was that I finally agreed to simply speak up. Stupid, right?
I said, to the Lord, that whatever opportunities He put in front of me, I would step forward. To speak about Him to anyone who would listen. Being a nice Creator, He gave me a few months before He tested that commitment and I actually remembered and remained faithful.
And then there were more opportunities, and more challenges and more… And you get my drift.
So, I’m walking in some uncharted territories here. I am making myself publicly a target in some places where the folks mentioned above tend to frequent and I may very well experience some latent fall out from our previous interaction mixed with their extreme paranoia. Not unwarranted paranoia, but very real concerns that their behavior to my family and me as well as many others in our community might come back around and create challenges for them.
And, yes, it does scare me a bit. These are freaky people who lack the compulsion to speak the truth. People who will justify the smallest lie and the largest accusation if they believe they are in any kind of peril. Real or imagined.
Will they find things to say about me? Of course. They wouldn’t even have to make things up. I’ve got a whole list of things they could use if they want to ask me.
I am not at the top of my game. I feel weak and incapable. I feel horribly insecure and it is a constant battle to stay one step ahead of the crushing depression which engulfed me for months after we left That Place.
Yet, somehow, in the middle of the mess that is me, God is picking up pieces and refusing to let me stay stagnant in the place I am most comfortable.
All alone. At 2:19 AM.
As the puppy and the progeny snuggle in their beds and my Mr. sleeps diagonal on a king size bed while the warm, deep voice of George Noori tells of alien abduction and the conspiracies to subvert the human genome.