Monday, June 30, 2014

To listen.

There are a bunch of blogs out there lately that have spoken about the whole singleness thing. Most of them are written quite well. Almost too well. This is NOT going to be another one of those.
In fact, I'm even surprising myself here in what I'm about to say...

I love reading the points that are made. I agree with just about everything said. And I'm the first to admit I too share in some of the bitterness that comes with being single and hearing the cliche lines over and over from well-meaning women in the church who are honestly trying to help and encourage me but don't realize by their words they are telling me it's my fault in various ways. Sure, if one more person tells me this time is for the Lord preparing me for marriage (I'm not mature enough yet), it always comes when you aren't looking (Stop desiring what God wired you for), or I'm fortunate because I can go anywhere and do anything (Yes but I've actually been told I can't move to Africa because it's too dangerous for a single woman. Besides, you have no idea how haunting it is to do life completely by yourself. For YEARS), I just may scream. But I'm seeing a pattern emerging lately that I want to stand up and speak against. 

The reason I said these recent blogs are almost too well written is because in the name of discussing current relevant topics, people have become very crafted at wording things with an angle of cleverness that disguises the thread of bitter judgement that has begun to spin into some ugly cloth. I actually see a pattern evolving of young adults beginning to judge the older generation and the youngly married. We begin to think we are the ones who truly "get it" and are going to go change the world. We're the ones going to African orphanages and working in Indian back-alleys and rescuing the unseen and unheard. They are the ones living their entitled lives in the white picket fences. I can say this because for years, I've been that young embittered 20-something who thinks I have this thing down while everyone else chooses the easy route. But I couldn't be more wrong. And the quicker I admit this the quicker I will learn to see the beauty all around me. I would never be able to go all the places and do all the things that I have if I didn't have friends who are at home with careers. Working "normal" jobs and living "normal" lives. I may have all the drive in the world. I may truly have the ability to go start my own ministry in another country. I could even have the most brilliant plan in the world to end injustice and hunger. But without those who are PAs and nurses and homemakers and teachers and accountants at home fervently praying for me and cheering me on and believing in me with their financial support, I can do absolutely nothing. And if I judge them for staying where they are and doing what they're doing, I'm saying that I don't need or desire their support in my life. I'm claiming that I don't see the beauty in what THEY do and stating that it isn't good. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 both talk about the necessity of each person being a unique part of the body of Christ. If you're an ear, don't try to walk. If you're a hand, don't try to smell. Just be who you are and flourish in that! It's not as if God made a mistake when He created you. He didn't. He can't.

So many of my friends are moms with young ones at home. You know what? That's the hardest job in the world. I have NO EARTHLY IDEA how difficult that is. And some of my friends are nurses in a fast-paced and high-stress environment. I can't imagine what that entails on a daily basis. My "adopted" older sister in Jesus is a missionary in South Africa. There's no way I could grasp what that contains-even after both my trips. One of my closest friends is married and a homemaker. I didn't have any opinion for several years, and then one day I began to see how much my view of marriage and homemaking and ministry to ones community had changed. I had somehow begun to look at marriage differently. I had begun to ask for different things when praying for my husband. And I had started to be okay with asking for specifics. With looking for a certain future. Just by being married and doing life and making her home, my friend and her husband have been teaching me how amazing and beautiful it can be. What to ask for. And that if you wait for the right one, he won't slow you down in your dreams but propel you forward.

All of this to say, we are too quick to judge those around us. Too quick to think we know what they should do different. What they need to hear. Instead of trying to give advice or just shooting for the common ground when hanging out, why not ask genuine questions? It's the places that are tough for each person that they really need conversation, love, an ear, and a shoulder over. I should be asking my friends what the hard and painful parts of their lives are. What is challenging about parenting? About being married? About South Africa? What hurts deep down in that one spot that never gets talked about and makes you feel alienated? And instead of trying to sooth it or flounder around for a word that seems to sound nice, why am I not praying with them and for them. For those things specifically. Why am I not saying, "I have no idea what it's like to be you. Tell me what you wrestle with. Tell me what hurts. I want perspective. And I want to stand tall beside you and pray loudly and with passion over you." The way I understand it, if we're all different parts of the body, we may have some spiritual authority over the part our dear friends are struggling with. An authority to speak new live and breath over and into that area of their lives. That's WHY we're all woven into such unique tapestries. To be strong where our sisters are weak. But instead we avoid those conversations and stick with all the safe topics that don't require the vulnerability to ask someone what's really going on. 

I'm interning for an anti-trafficking ministry. And I haven't spoken about it in detail because the place we're at, the things we do, and the experiences I'm having are intense. And hard to explain. The office was a brothel a year ago. The kind of work done is deep. When you're literally fighting evil and praying down satan's army, you begin to come up against all kinds of crazy. You'd better suit up because you've entered a roar of war going on in the Heavenlies. One that doesn't push a pause button when you leave for the day. In fact, it often acts up more in the non-work areas of your life. You have headaches. nightmares. I've literally had a vision hit me out of nowhere involving a prostitute. Your mind and emotions can be shaky from the demons that are now after you. You begin to learn that this is now daily life for you. You're in. You know too much to walk away. And you don't want to. But you also realize most of the stuff happening most people don't and won't understand unless they're doing this too.

A friend from Modesto recently moved to Houston. Through church she was told about our organization and the things we're doing in the city. She immediately messaged me and said "I was just informed about all you do. Girl, you are in a dark place and I want to know how I can support you." She then proceeded to take me out for a beautiful day in the city in which we enjoyed each other's company and spoke about the heartache we each deal with. She just moved to the 4th largest city in the country. She's a mom of 3. She is trying to establish her family here while missing home and church and family. It was so beautiful to hear her heart and to have her care and listen to me as I talked about the struggles I'm dealing with. She teared up and told me she could never understand what I go through every day. That moment touched me so deeply. And I realized that is how it's supposed to be. That is the attitude we ought to take with each other. Rather than thinking we understand where others are or what they want to hear, let's just listen to their story and their heart. Let's get uncomfortable enough to simply pray with them and over them. Let's be different from everyone else. They have enough everyone else's, they don't need more. 


Macaroo42 said...

Very nice blog.... And then I got to what you propose todo about it. Brilliant!

Betty A Van Horn said...

Excellent and insightful!