Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Step into the messy

I like people. I have some awesome friends, friends that I love hanging out with. People that encourage me, challenge me, welcome me. People that are fun to be around.
But these are the easy ones. They don’t necessarily expect or need a lot of attention. They are pretty self-sufficient. They can make it without my help. They are low maintenance. They are my peers.
Sure, we are a blessing to each other. Being together feeds my spirit.
But they don’t require a lot.

Not everyone is like that.
Not everyone is safe within a secure environment.
Not everyone comes from a stable home life.
Not everyone is able to be planning for the future.

Some people are messy.
Their lives are filled with sadness.
They have a dark and sordid past—abuse, poverty, violence, brokenness, emptiness.
They don’t have the history of a secure childhood.
They struggle with mental or physical illness.
Their basic coping mechanisms involve addictions and dependencies.

Oh, they are often more self-reliant than the rest of us.
They can survive on the stuff the rest of us throw away.
They have a support network that gets them through the darkest of days.

But they are messy.
They are black holes that will suck up every little bit of love around, and still seem as sad and empty as before.
They don’t necessarily exhibit the social niceties that we tend to expect from each other—‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’, or ‘Excuse me’.
Not that they are boorish, they just live in a more gritty world where you need to move quickly to get what you can before it is gone.
They are often a little rough around the edges. Their language and behavior speaks more of the street than the board room.
They can be the nicest people you have ever met. They can be pleasant and polite. They can be very grateful.

But they are messy.
They require a commitment of time and love. Lots of time. Lots of love.
They require patience.
Because they often come from a history where trust has been broken so often, trust takes a long time to be built.
As much as they need to be able to tell their story, they are careful with who they tell it to. They don’t want to scare you off, or maybe they do. Some people have so little experience with genuine love that they don’t know how to handle it.

I invite you to step into the messy.
Put on your boots and get out into the real world.
Harden your ears to the coarseness of the language, but soften your heart to the rawness of the story.

Open your spirit to the hunger of their spirit.
Bridge the gap.
Enter their world.

Not as a savior.
Not as a deliverer.
But as a friend.
A friend that has no agenda other than being the best friend you can be.
As Gregory Boyle puts it, "Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a covenant between equals." from Tattoos on the heart
As The Message puts John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
It’s not about ‘success’, it’s about faithfulness.
Again I invite you to step into the messy.
It’s actually holy ground.

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