Monday, April 21, 2008

Lost Nerve

A friend of mine literally spoke the words to me today, "Maybe you should do a blog." Little does she know. Little does anyone know. I am not even fully able to be fully free in what I say even now, when I know that NO ONE will ever read the thing except my husband. I can't imagine if I knew there were people--especially people who actually know me--reading it.

My friend was saying to me--rather out of nowhere--that she and her husband were discussing the fact that they think I'm "a bit of a prophetic type personality." Further, she was suggesting that I should be willing to share those "prophetic insights" because the church needs those who are willing to challenge and confront and stir up and make people think.

I'm reminded of Jo's question to her husband Bill in the movie Twister. "Have you lost your nerve?!"

Yes, Jo, I have. I've been burned by one too many "offended" friends who weren't up for the "let's dialogue and wrestle and banter and vent regarding all the dimensions of life and the questions that arise as we seek to live it in Christ" kind of relationship.

In fact, I am currently having a bit of a questioning time in my life regarding friendship, relationship in the Body, the contemporary Evangelical church in America, and “redemptive relationship” in general. Basically, I think that the kind of relationships that are truly beneficial and redemptive and sanctifying don’t happen much because people aren’t much interested in having that kind of relationship.

In general, it seems that people don’t want you to “cross them” in any way, and that means not dialoging together about life in Christ and what it all looks like. (Forget challenging each other... doing the difficult work of prayerfully agonizing over sharing with one another regarding possible “sin” areas observed in each others’ lives!)

I’m not even talking about bemoaning the loss of that kind of relationship, because it is still my sweet and precious experience with a very few faithful treasured friends. I just mean that now, in general, in the contemporary Evangelical church at large, one can’t even try to talk together about normal life things without stepping into someone’s zone of offense. The general mantra is “grace = don’t cross me in any way whatsoever.” Further, almost anything one says might be construed as judgmental, offensive, implying something, or whatever.

In practice, I can't even discuss my own life experience with others. (I'm choosing to _____, after all, so that must mean that I think anyone doing anything differently from me is wrong.) Fill in that first blank with whatever you like... used to be breastfeed; spank; be a stay-at-home-mom; avoid too much sugar, packaged food, television, computer games, vaccines, even fever-reducers... now it is stuff like homeschool; not do the sleepover thing, or - get this - not have naked ("Christian" porn) pictures of myself made to give to my husband. No, I'm not making that up. I actually did recently deal with that last one. I have not, however, chosen to express my opinion that perhaps the practice isn't wise, or that perhaps it doesn't reflect what sex is supposed to be about. I know there's a good chance that I'd be accused of being "judgmental" if I were to do so, so I have said nothing.

I could go on and on about my confusion and frustration in this arena. Suffice it to say that relationships that faithfully exhort one another... women with whom to wrestle and wrangle and grapple and support and challenge and love and help and share... these treasured friends are few and far between and... as a dear friend called me the other day... "rare." ("You are so rare," she told me. "Beautiful and rare and a treasure." I have never felt more special in my life than in that moment. But I digress.)

I have wonderful friendship with my husband, and we talk about everything. And I am developing a really neat friendship with each of my children, which is especially sweet as they get older. But the kind of friends who will listen faithfully and then share faithfully are hard to come by... those who will "think out loud" with me, using all the wisdom, discernment, and biblical support they can muster... who will help me think through the issues... who will wrestle and wrangle and give and take and help me see things from all kinds of angles that I might often miss in my fleshly, self-consumed blindness... who are faithful to listen, and really hear, and then really share...

I call for friends in the Body who will step out of themselves, and take the risk, to share both truth and opinion with me. Who will trust me - and our relationship with each other - enough to risk that. And then who will trust my relationship with the Lord enough to leave me with it, whatever "it" is, and pray for me in it. I want friends who want any and all "think out loud together" feedback I can come up with, and who are willing to give it to me right back. I want to open the Scriptures together and talk about whatever applications I might think I see in whatever the issue is... and I want to hear whatever applications you might think you see, too. I want to walk together, share together, find agreement, find disagreement... all with the respect and freedom and security of biblical love, which "always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres... never fails" (I Cor. 13).

"Better is open rebuke than hidden love. The kisses of an enemy may be profuse, but faithful are the wounds of a friend," (Proverbs 27:5-6).

Maybe I should blog, huh?! I don't know if folks are ready for the musings inside my head to move outside of it...

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