Recently, a friend let me know they were upset. As I listened, I learned how upset they were and that it was partly because of something I didn’t do.
I was grateful that they told me. It was hard for them to speak up; afterward, they felt better. But I was at a loss when I heard they felt hurt because I didn’t fulfill an unnamed expectation. That’s not on me. Their deep hurt was part of their own story of disappointments and attachments. But, of course, after someone has shared so vulnerably, it’s not the time to tell them this. Yet, I wasn’t about to pick up the blame for what wasn’t my fault, and I didn’t.
My friend wanted me to be something I wasn’t. I wanted them to release me from their unreasonable expectations and take responsibility for their own feelings.
I felt stuck and frustrated.
Eventually, I realized that I needed to take responsibility for my feelings. I was disappointed that I’d been blamed. I was frustrated that I couldn’t make another person see what I saw. I began to recognize my own story of expectations and disappointment, as well as the attachment to others thinking well of me.
As I sat in the calmness of the morning many days later, I wondered what it would be like to let go. What would it be like to allow my friend to hold onto their beliefs as long as they needed to? What would it be like to stand firmly in what I know and accept that another can’t agree?
Letting go of the need to defend myself made room for compassion. I began to feel compassion for my friend and for myself. I could trust that God was at work in both our lives and that this is part of the journey of friendship.
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
–Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)
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A Lenten Pause
Every day God is telling us, “You are my beloved child; in you I am well pleased.”
During this season of Lent, I invite you to join me in receiving our belovedness through this Daily Prayer Practice.
Allowing ourselves to receive God’s love takes time and patience. Fear that it isn’t true can cause our bodies to tense up and limit rational thought. When something happens that confirms the fear that we’re not enough, we may feel a clenching in our chest or gut. But in the same way that it’s hard for an adamant child to keep her fist clenched for long, in the space of a few minutes, our bodies begin to relax. Fear comes and goes (unless our thoughts ramp them up again). We gain a broader perspective as we allow our feelings to settle.
Ruth Haley Barton used the illustration of pond water in a jar to explain this. Shake it up and you can’t see a thing. But over time, as the particles settle, the water becomes clear. Over time, we recall details we didn’t notice at first and gain clarity. The gift of time and patience opens us to hear God’s still, small voice from within.
Love this Esther. Happens to me too. Opening up th
Thanks, Charleen. It looks like you were going to say more.