To anyone who has commented on the blog, or sent me an email or Facebook message, or text, or called me, or met me for coffee, or colored my hair, please let me start by saying thank you. I’m incredibly humbled by your stories and deeply encouraged by your response. I sometimes think the best thing we can hear from each other is, “Dude, I so know where you are. I’ve been there too.” It’s nice to feel less alone and crazy.
Amy (the same Amy who made me read Harry Potter) has been coloring my hair for the last year. I went over Friday, 2 boxes of dye in hand because my hair is so long it’s kind of ridiculous, and I sat in Amy’s living room as she turned my hair from “Ash Brown” to “Mahogany” and listened as I spilled my heart about this rough season I’ve been in. She was patient, only stopping me to ask a question when something was unclear. She was, I think, the personification of empathy as she moved about my head applying color. It was good and right, and it was the proper “friend thing” to do. But, when she had finished and she settled into the chair across from me, she told me, “I get how you work and I know you need to sort this out alone a little bit, but it’s not okay for you to think that you’re all by yourself in it. Because you’re not. You have Jesus and you have me. And it’s not okay for you to go so inside you’re own head that you start shutting people out. Because I’m not going to let you do that. That’s not how we work.” She was, I think, the personification of accountability. It was good and right, and it was the proper “friend thing” to do.
Somehow, I think this is the kind of thing God envisioned when He set about creating the Church. I think this is the kind of thing He had in mind when He talked about people being quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). Because Amy did that for me. She waited out my ranting and worked to hear the heart of what I was saying, rather than being overrun by the emotion of the moment. Speaking wasn’t the foot she led with; listening was.
She was not, however, willing to enable me to wallow in my bad space. She was not content to let me stay put. She called me out of it. She said the hard thing, but only after she had listened to me. She was, I think, modeling Paul’s charge to the Ephesian church: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as it is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (4:29, NASB). And that’s exactly what Amy gave to me: grace. Grace – given in the need of a moment. Grace – for the purpose of building up. Grace – person to person, reflecting God’s grace to all of humanity.
I texted Amy yesterday afternoon to thank her for knowing me and knowing my tendency to turn inside myself and for thinking that I’m worth being in relationship anyway. I told her that her friendship was like a buoy, helping me to keep afloat when it feels like the world is working to take me under. She texted back and told me a story about how I had been that for her too last year, when she was facing a hard season, and how in part through our friendship her life had changed, because it forced her to look God-ward. And I think the little two-person community that I have with Amy paints a pretty cool picture of how the Church at large should be working – as buoys, where our purpose is to help each other stay afloat, pointing us toward a God who walks on water (Matthew 14:25).
So, again I say to anyone who has commented on the blog, or sent me an email or Facebook message, or text, or called me, or met me for coffee, or colored my hair, thanks for keeping my buoyant.