When the Future Changes

There were two men in my life. They both wanted to officiate my wedding. They both decided – separately – that if they never met the man I married, I wasn’t allowed to get married. Or, as one of them clarified, if I did get married without them, they’d act like the marriage was a figment of my imagination until they could reinact the ceremony with their involvement. (I didn’t dare act like they weren’t serious.) 

Both Terry and Ray jokingly-but-not-so-jokingly fought each other as they planned for my future wedding together as far as who would get most of the limelight as the officiator of my wedding, who got to kiss my cheek first and who got to harass my groom the best. 

I could never decide if their surrogate- fatherly arguments warmed my heart or added to my anxiety. Usually, I just laughed instead of focusing on the confusion. I was loved, that’s what I needed to remember. I was 16 and both these men had higher dreams for my future than I did. When I nearly ruined my life with childish decisions at 19 years old, they both spent hours (and I mean hours) almost daily on the phone talking me through my decisions and asking me the hard questions no one else wanted to ask. 

Both of these men passed away within a year of each other.  It didn’t hit me until last night for some reason that neither of these men get to see my wedding. Neither of these men get to ask me the hardest questions of all: “Can you support this man when he seems unsupportable? Can you make him laugh when all you want to do is make him cry? Can you show him Christ when all you want to do is show him yourself?” 

Even at 16, they warned me about those questions. They told me what they wanted the answers to be and what they would do if my answers didn’t represent Christ. They were futuristically minded when I couldn’t be. They cared more for my future than almost any other nonrelated acquaintance ever had.

They didn’t plan on not being around to help me grow up, but they prepared me for the future just in case they weren’t.

What if we discipled like that more often? What if we strove to be involved with our mentees but prepared them to be just as godly, wise and prepared without us as they are when they are with us? What if we didn’t shield them from hard things but rather taught them that they can prepare for a storm before it comes? 

What if we discipled in such a way that those we disciple don’t pine after us after we’re gone but rather strive to immulate the Christ-like characters we focused on the most?

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I Don’t Need You; Right?

My hip rolls in and out of joint more times than Taylor Swift rolls out of relationships. Usually, popping the rebellious joint back into place takes less than a minute. A few short stretches and my fragile body is back in tiptop shape and able to keep up with my not-so-fragile heart. Yesterday, that wasn’t the case at all.

When I bit back a scream after standing up, I knew I needed help putting my hip joint back into place. Out of desperation, I quickly filled my boyfriend in and threw together some random instructions on what he needed to do. As he started doing exactly what I told him to do (all of which was entirely made up on the fly) I had a terrifying thought:

What if I’m making him do the wrong thing? What if I actually break my hip? Was this a dumb idea? Maybe this was a dumb idea.

Mercifully, the exercise worked. The pain went from a piercing stab to a simple sore spot in no time at all. But that sore spot has been on my mind all day today. In a way only God can, He somehow drew a correlation between my need for help physically and my need for community spiritually.

There was nothing I wanted more than to hide my pain from my boyfriend. It had nothing to do with his character, ability or trustworthiness. I just didn’t want to look weak. But my need overrode my pride.

I wasn’t too sure he knew what he was doing because, let’s face it, he wasn’t getting fantastic instructions. He’s (obviously) stronger than I am, though, and I needed his help whether I understood the outcome or not. 

Often times, I treat my need for prayer – my need for Christian spiritual community – the same way. Being vulnerable and telling the gut wrenching truth to a trustworthy source doesn’t happen because what if they think I’m weak?

In the same way, I often times don’t let them help me heal spiritually because I’m unwilling to trust that maybe God can use their wisdom in my life much more than he can use my own.

There have been times I’ve reached out to a trusted friend about a struggle and walked away thinking, What if telling him/her was wrong? What if letting them know makes my life worse?  Am I trusting them too much? Was this a dumb idea? Yes, there have been times where I’ve made a mess telling someone my struggles. But as I became wiser in learning to look for what characteristics made someone trustworthy, those people I turn to now are often times my key to diving deeper Spiritually.

Just like correcting my hip, becoming more like Christ can hurt like the dickens. Sometimes, an unaddressed sin becomes all we can think about, growing so large we can’t see past it. It’s during those times that asking a fellow Christian to be a shoulder to lean on and an additional voice in the Throne Room of God is the most crucial.

The reality is, sometimes we don’t heal until we allow room for community.