I have come off of a week in which I was struggling, feeling subdued and down – all of course because of me, because of what I hope for in the response of others to me. Let me say at the outset that I am all about relationship. Some of you will likely have heard me say before that this probably stems from my growing up situation in which I had (of necessity) a strong bond or relationship with my mother, and in which I learned to reach out and build other relationships given the limited number available in my family setting. I am also admittedly an introvert, which at least for me, suggests a need to build some strong relationships on which I can depend. I do not need 100 “best friends” but I do need a handful of good friends with whom I can cultivate meaningful and regular conversation and heart connection – be that in person or in phone calls, email, or even I must add, Facebook.
So back to last week. It was my experience that people I care about or with whom I engage collegially were not being responsive to me. Being ignored is painful for me; it always has been. As I discussed my week with my mentor he observed that my response of hurt – moving to anger – seems to come about out of my sense of being abandoned…yet again, much as I was abandoned by my father. (It is so very curious – and if you have had to try to deal with some serious issue of forgiveness you will know – that moving through the associated emotions, the peaks and valleys, is an arduous journey indeed. It is both a journey and a process, neither of which have a clear end in sight…just further learning in store.)
I shared one of my experiences of the past week with a friend on the telephone yesterday, shared how I was feeling and why, and was lovingly supported. What’s funny is that today as I “listen back in” on some of what I said, I am hearing and understanding in a different way, and in that, in a more caring and respectful way. It dawns on me that I want the people I care about to have the same need for and sense of relationship that I have. And I am so very aware today that this is totally unrealistic, not to mention unwelcoming. God help us if everyone was like me; we would be in trouble in a hurry. In this understanding – that I need to accept the people I care about for who they are (especially when they have said who they are and how they behave), and stop with the cookie cutter expectation I too often impose. The latter is childish; I am reminded of the lovely poetry in 1st Corinthians about love which “…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…[and] never ends. … When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
This morning I was able to be at my home church for Palm Sunday worship which was a special treat because the handbell choir played, and after church I got to listen in as the church orchestra (yes, we have one!) rehearsed its musical offering for next Sunday when I will be at my work church. Our “guest” preacher was a much loved member of our congregation, wife of our Minister of Music, both of whom are ordained clergy. She spoke in her sermon about Buck Brannaman, the “horse whisperer” who was portrayed by Robert Redford in the 1998 movie, and who was the subject of a documentary released in 2011. She spoke of his work with horses and how he did not believe in the concept of “breaking” a horse. Instead he talks about getting to know the personality of the horse, and focusing on that, works to bring the horse around to understand commands and to develop (what I understood to be) “horse/man”-ship.
I hope I might soon be able to shed my childish thinking, my childish expectations of how other people should be, and instead give them the freedom to be who they are. Together we would have a good chance to make the world a richer place. The issue of sometimes feeling abandoned may be the harder nut to crack. Surely I am not the only person on the face of the earth to have experienced this. I am equally certain that I have a number of friends who have not – and I dare say will not – abandon me. Guess I need to shift my focus to what I can count on rather than rue that which I could not. Excuse me … I’m gonna climb up from the bottom of this barrel now.