I think I’ve started six blog posts in the last month, and all of them with great seed ideas, but as I’ve tried to work through them, tapping ideas out onto the screen, the ideas have just wilted and died. I don’t know if this is writer’s block, or more broadly, just an alive-r’s block, as I seem to be having a hard time squeezing the highlights out of my memories each day and attaching them with meaning. My thoughts tend to run in the same stream each day, and much like my dancing buddy Sally knows, they feel to me like my dancing does to me quite often. Because I know my limited sets of thoughts like I know my limited sets of dance leads, I get bored with them. Sally tells me she doesn’t get bored with my dancing leads- that’s just my deal. I guess the suggestion there related to writing is the encouragement that although I know my thoughts and I find myself bored by dumping them into this blog, others don’t know them, and they may very well enjoy them or find meaning in them. I suppose this is a good reason to keep writing what you can or will, even if it is monotonous. There are still gold nuggets hidden here and there along the way under the silt and stones in the stream bed.
I think the biggest item I have been chewing on the last few months is my predilection for loving women who can’t (or won’t) love me back. I have a poor track record for selecting the women I give my heart to (although I don’t even do that that often). For some reason I throw myself in with women who either lack the ability or interest to reciprocate with me. I am seeing more clearly that the hunger that I have is pretty large, but at core, it is a desire to be valued for my warmth and presence and kindness- for my heart. I have been “losing heart” that such a possibility lies out there ahead for me. But we have to keep hoping. After G, I have learned to be very shy to chase anyone who doesn’t display a mutual interest in seeking me out as well. It’s just too hard to try and keep chasing someone when they give you back nothing that you need, which in my case is really some affirmation, some connection, some shared time together. I can’t say I always know what I need. But I do know what it looks like to be loved- at least, for me.
I have also been struggling quite a bit in relations to church life. While our leadership is sound and our overall vision pretty solid and clear, many of those who came over to help plant the Highland campus have been leaving the last few months. Some have gone back to the main campus. Others have gone off to other churches. Some, I am not sure where they have gone. I have enjoyed coming over to Sagebrush Highland, and I love the area and the people this campus reaches out to. It is a campus that is right where it needs to be. But it has been hard seeing strong members leaving. For those of us who are left, more work is thrown on us. Vision becomes clouded. The volunteers get tired and burnt out. And the glean of newness that made the campus exciting for new visitors has kind of worn off. The church feels heavy now to me. Less warm. Less communal. Our small group has been a good image of what has been going on in the larger congregation. What was once a circle of strong and involved relationships bent on growing together in Christ has been devolving to a group of transient participants for whom the meeting has become optional and periodical. Some of our core people have decided to move on to other ministries. Others have decided to show up when they can. Commitment has fallen off. And as a result, I’ve lost a lot of enthusiasm for group time.
I love Christ very much, but I go through cycles of deep frustration with the church, or more broadly, with His people. Much of my hang-ups are undoubtedly due to my expectations and my own personal insufficiencies, and my own relational issues. I go through seasons when I just want to retreat like the fourth-century monks who went out into the desert to gut it out alone with God. But I am a great enough adherent to the Scriptures that I know that is not His call for our lives. Being in His body means we are to be in His community. We are to learn to live out the Word by living and working and sharing in life together. Still, the introvert and the disappointed depressive in me often yearns to just shuck all the religion and the religious off and go do my own thing for a year or two. I’ve done that too, though, and am not sure that yields much in one’s life. Still, rest is necessary in all ventures.
It was refreshing to me to see a post on Facebook about a week ago by an acquaintance who basically pointed out that, according to an expert on Oprah, the best mates in marriage turn out to be those who marry their best friends in life. My Facebook friend affirmed this, highlighting the great years she has had in her marriage with her husband- because he is her best friend. Her words really grabbed my attention.
I appreciated this post because it reminded me that in my endless midlife meanderings wondering about a perfect partner, I need to find the fierce friend first. Romantic sentiment can rise and fall like the sun, but to go through that with someone who loves being with you and loves you just because you are you- this is the gift of love that helps two lives grow together through time. There are a lot of columns thrown into men’s and women’s magazines with the secrets to a great married life. My guess is they probably all boil down to what the Teacher teaches succinctly: “A friend loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17).”
Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. ‘Pooh!’ he whispered.
‘Nothing,’ said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. ‘I just wanted to be sure of you.’
~ A.A. Milne