I’ve been mulling this over for quite some time, so I apologize if it doesn’t come out right or make sense. Frankly, I’m not sure if it make sense in my own head and it may only make sense to a few folks. So, if it doesn’t make sense to you, I’m really sorry that I may have wasted your time.
I struggle with relationships with others. I feel like it’s been a struggle for a good portion of my life. Not that I’m socially awkward, but when it comes to deep, meaningful, authentic relationships it’s been a struggle.
Before Tullie and Eli were born, I think that I was content to be where I was. I had friends. We talked. We hung out and brought each other meals for the birth of our babies, but I think I was missing some real authenticity in my relationships. Life is was good. Some financial harship, but nothing really tragic. Typical stuff.
After Tullie was born, something in me started to churn. I felt like we were dealing with something really HUGE, and we were, but I felt like some relationships were beginning to fall apart. I think though, that a lot of it had to do with me. I glossed over a lot of my feelings regarding Tullie. I wasn’t honest that I wasn’t really happy with her diagnosis and I became a lot more factual then usual. Relaying information to friends would be emotionless. Like this: Friend: “How’s Tullie doing?” Me: “Ok. Her oxygen was turned up last week at her last appointment.” Friend: “Oh, I’m sorry. “Why?” Me: “Oh, she was retaining to much carbon dioxide, but the oxygen is helping. She may be off of it next month.” Friend: “Well, I hope that she is. I’ll be praying.” Me: “Thanks.” Really emotional, huh?
I honestly did not know how to respond. Tullie’s diagnosis was such a BIG deal and I didn’t want others to pity us, but I had no idea how to suffer through this. It wasn’t something temporary. This would stick around forever. People wanted to know how I really felt, and frankly, I didn’t want to tell them. Because if I did, my real and ugly heart would be revealed. I knew all the Christian tag lines to keep folks happy.
By the time Eli was born and passed away, I think I had just built a nice brick house around myself. I didn’t feel like I had a lot of people to really talk to and the few people I did, I think that my grief was really burdensome. I started to pull myself away from just about everyone. The only person I talked to was Mike. I figured, that he was the only one who “got it”, so I’d just stick with him. However, by doing that I wrecked some relationships that I did have.
I really struggled with Galatians 6:3, “Bear one another burdens or so fulfill the law of Christ.” Seriously, what in the hell did that really mean? Did we even get that idea as Christians? I was in the middle of grief, barely keeping it together, and everyone around me, seemed to be doing just fine. I felt lonely and isolated. And I realized that I didn’t know how to serve others. I really didn’t. I would serve folks in the past with meals, but really serve folks in the grief and suffering. I had no idea what to do. How to relate to those who were suffering. That was until I was in the midst of my own…
During the last five years, I’ve learned something. I’ve learned that I need authentic relationships. But I’ve also learned that that is really one of the hardest things in the world to maintain. I’ve found that it’s really hard for me to have superficial relationships. I give up early. I have a hard time getting through the, Where-are-you-from’s, I like to jump right in, “So, what has Jesus brought you through?”
In this, though, I struggle. I struggle with my pride. My pride in my pain. Thinking that somehow my pain in inferior to others. When really it’s not. Pain is pain. What our pain is in our life is going to be different. But pain is pain. We’ll all just feel it differently. And, by golly, we will feel it! We will not escape this earth without pain. But in that, how do I have authentic relationships and the patience for those relationships that may be viewed as superficial? It’s hard and I struggle. I struggle with inpatience and with my pride.
A friend convicted me today. A lot has changed, but she convicted me today and showed me that I’m still prideful and locked up in my brick house. Well, that’s not really good is it?