Family and friends.
I've been thinking about family and friends.
Not sure why that is. Maybe it is being in one church for more than 12 years, and getting to know...really know...a whole group of folks. Seeing their strong places, seeing their scared places, seeing their bruised places, seeing their hopeful places, and seeing their stuck places. You know...
stuck. Like a child who keeps tripping over the same toy. Or the football player who can't seem to remember to go left on a particular pass play and always heads in the wrong direction. You get to see people's stuck places. The issue or fear or obsession that keeps tripping them up. And, of course, they have gotten to know me so well they see all my places. They know I am -on some days- all together and some days I am a total mess. You get to know one another pretty well after twelve years.
Perhaps I've been thinking about family and friends because my siblings are getting ready to do some heart work. We're spread out, the five of us, from northwest Chicago to suburban Washington D.C. So getting together will be tough, but we are getting ready to do some heart work... some counseling work. It's been over eight years since our Mom died, and her absence has changed the landscape of the universe for us. So we're going to talk with someone and try to figure out how to move into the future in a loving, connected, healthy way.
One of the wisest words of advice for human relationships I heard on the golf course: "Play it where it lies." There might be an easier shot if the ball were three or four feet to the right, you might shoot a lower score if you didn't have to navigate your way around that stubborn maple tree standing between you and the hole, but you play the ball where it lies.
When we're young many of us expend an extraordinary amount of energy looking for people who aren't stuck...bruised...fearful. There are days when we want to wash our hands of the collection of characters that make up our family.
Wisdom is, though, learning to love people where they are. "Play it where it lies." I think about the buddy who stopped by the house this week. We sat on the patio, watched the fall leaves come down and the river flow by, and talked. Some of our stuff we've been kicking around for the better part of a decade. And I love him. He blesses my life. When he walks into a room the world is a better place. But he and are a both flawed, unfinished creatures. We accept that about one another. That acceptance allows our friendship to flourish.
Simon Peter was an impulsive, talk-first-and-then-think sort of guy. Jesus loved him. Never gave up on him. Even took time to give his friend fishing advice in John 21. And Paul, in 2nd Corinthians, says if we are in Christ we are being made into a new creation.
I'm thankful for the moments when God provides healing to our broken hearts, and moves us beyond our stuck places. I do believe people can change and grow and heal. Mercy and grace are also very good things, and I'm thankful for the wisdom that tells us to love and value people where they are.
"Play it where it lies."