On the eve of a blog that solicited far more of an intense reaction than I anticipated (although, not much more), I feel it necessary to try and clarify as well as answer some of the collective questions about “Compli-meant.”
Even after I get done reading it, I sat and asked myself (trying to put myself in the reader’s shoes)…so now what? Many of you Seminary ladies have been articulating a personalized response to the ‘Compli-meant’ blog entry…which I find extremely interesting for a number of reason, two of which however capture my attention most:
1.) You are either confused or upset at thinking you have been guilty of this less-than-completely-honest way of interaction, and have come to me either through the grapevine or directly asking me how to do it right, if you did it wrong.
2.) The very fact that this has solicited such a personalized response from so many women thus far tells me, and I could be wrong about this, (I’m kind of an idiot at times) that you felt the way you did (confused, frustrated and/or guilty) that you take this so personal because you have in fact been doing something wrong.
Let me just dispense with the pleasantries. As I reflect on every single person I’ve ever come into considerable contact with… we ALL have not been as honest as we should and could be with others. All of us! Honesty is in every way an attribute of the glory of God…and we all fall short!
So yes, women, you have done this…if not to me, and not some other guy on this campus, then to someone else in your life at some point. I do it. I did it today for crying out loud. I’ll tell you what though…I know I had a tough time today as I ruminated on the idea of my interactions, as they were happening even. I had to be so incredibly intentional with everything I did. It was tough! But given the pain that comes only ever on the other side of letting this dishonesty simmer and eventually get swept under the rug, I will happily self-check every little thing I do. Christ sees to everything I do, should I not.
before yesterday…Our interactions, at times, felt more like poison than Providence.
I say felt more like poison than Providence, because today, as I joked with many of you at lunch with our completely over the top, “Is this good for your heart comments”…we all seemed to be a little bit more of Christ.
But back to what everyone wants to know…including me…HOW DO WE FIX THIS?
If we understand that John 4:19 is real, then we have little reason to misinterpret the intensity and extreme calling we all must fight to fulfill in Eph. 5:1-2…to love as Christ loved us.
I hit on something today with a friend of mine as we discussed the blog…we we’re talking about how it’s just ridiculous to have that kind of honesty…the kind that all but guarantees to make things awkward, difficult and even scary at times. We agreed entirely that Christ did not have anything less than perfect radical honesty in Him, all the time! The very best we could come up with, as to why we wouldn’t imitate that same Holy attribute exactly as it was lived out for us, was that it’s too extreme (which is code for really hard).
Well…screw that logic! In the face of verses like Heb. 12:1 and 2Tim. 2:12…we have no choice other than to endure trials (in order the we may reign with Him), that which is tough and difficult, if it be for His sake. Why would we want anything less than that? Christ went all the way to the cross! Giving up on excellence, because culture dictates a watered down, weak-sauce alternative, is not an option. Giving up, giving in and failing is a reality for us as Christians… but it is not an option! Never give up what we’re called to! Never!
Hmm…so we, for the sake of imitating or not imitating Christ’s honesty… would take having to speak in a defending or clarifying tone, living out a few moments of awkwardness, and perhaps even hurting some feelings along the way…and actually have the audacity to pit that incredibly pathetic case against what Christ endured…the collective wrath of both God Himself and Satan against his every sense, the horror of experiencing momentary disownment by the Father as He hung gasping for his last air, and the absolute physical ravaging of His body that no amount of Mel Gibson movies will never fully capture…and then say…see Lord…see everyone…it’s really hard, that’s why I can’t do it.
I swear to God, I’m about this close to an expletive! If you think I’m wrong, then disagree with me, or get the hell on board this thing called Christianity, heck, if for no other reason that to help me do it better. I want that kind of perfect, for all of us.
Another friend that I spoke with today helped me develop a good analogy for the simple perfect honesty I’m talking about. You know how you get something in your teeth…a piece of lettuce, some cashew, or the infamous ‘black thing’…why is it that sometimes we sit there and don’t tell the person that they have a something in their teeth. This is what I’m talking about. It’s awkward…it’s inconvenient! I know that if I come back to my apartment after a long day, look in the mirror and find something in my teeth, especially something that I know was from breakfast…I start to think about all the people I interacted with who didn’t tell me the truth…”You have something in your teeth.”
We do this SO much…with everything! If you think you don’t…fine…great…you blog then about how you do things, especially if you have another method other than radical, reforming, Christlike honesty…because we would all benefit from hearing such things.
Another example is found in a little Irish rose named Ally Neil… she’s absolutely precious beyond words…most of you know her (John Neil’s daughter). In case you didn’t know… she likes me… a lot! Her little three year old frame runs up to me and gives me the craziest big hugs every time she sees me. We could all learn a thing or two from little Ally. You see, if you ask Ally, she’d tell you she’s going to marry me. She tends to let everyone know that. My friend and I laughed tonight as we thought of her childlike honesty, but like I told her, in a moment of complete seriousness…”at least I know where I stand with Ally.”
So no, don’t go around without any tact, announcing who you’re going to marry, but do have that kind of honesty at the ready…we could all learn something from the little Irish rose…we could all use some more ‘Ally-honesty’ I think.
A huge thing in all of this is there is no one formula to fix this honesty issue. If that were the case I would have utilized the fact that my roommate has a B.S. in Mathematics and wrote the ‘Compli-meant’ blog as an equation…
2 questions + 2 answers – 1 hesitation + radical honesty / by God’s Will = Love
That’s stupid even to look at! No person, especially a woman, will ever be that simple and plain. Instead it’s all about learning one another. Asking questions as fast as our hearts demand ’em. All I was trying to say before, formula wise, was that if you are asking the question, “Is this good for my heart…and is this good for their heart?”…then you’re at least asking the right question(s).
That’s how I think we do this! I’m so incredibly open to other people’s input…just like any idea, it only ever came from hearing others…tell me if you think radical Christlike honesty is the end all be all answer, or not…and if so, how we go about getting that. I’m begging you to illuminate this further.
On a separate note…and this is one that does not apply to every woman, but for some I know it’s right on the money. Women compare themselves to other women. If you don’t…bravo…you’re a rarity. But for those of you do, I apologize for not having been more sensitive to the fact that I mentioned the undergrad girls in such a great light as I did.
The truth is (and I hope this is taken as not just another disclaimer that annoys more than it anoints) some of the undergrad girls have shown themselves to be capable of loving us with free-er and yet still safeguarded hearts. Some of them! Some have screwed up just as badly as we Seminary guys have. The ‘great protector’ turned the ‘great’ failure in seconds.
We seem to forget men (I do too), that while we might hate walking on egg shells with some women, we think it’s free-er and okay to walk to and fro on dropped shields. Somewhere in between fleeing the Temptress and awakening the Perfect lies the egg shells and dropped shields…MEN…know where you’re walking.
Seminary women…you are doing it right some of the time. My point with using the undergrads for comparative sake was simply to drive home the point. Don’t focus anything other than Love on those girls. I don’t think you would, having as good a hearts as you do, but know that the disciple outdoing the discipler imagery was solely meant to frustrate you to not settle for doing it…not better than a few undergrad girls, but as Christ did it.
Metzger says it…”why settle for so little, when Christ calls you to so much more?”
Ally-Honesty…Like I said, Ally tells me to my face she’s going to marry me. One undergrad girl last semester told me she was developing feelings for me that were, in her words, “everything that wanting to be more than friends is made of.” I told her…after a “hmm…”…”thank you for your honesty. I see you as just a friend, but I consider it an absolute compliment and an honor that you would consider me in that way…thank you.” It was awesome…it was easily the best Jamba Juice experience I’ve ever shared with someone.
A follow up as to how do we do this right is this: Do I still hang out with that girl…heck no. It’s not good for either one of us, but is there freedom in our relationship…God yes! Do I think every time I see that girl, which is a lot (yay small school), about our Jamba confessions…of course…but I can smile at her and know where I stand, and equally, where she stands before me. You might think that’s stupid, but everyone I’ve shared that with, guy and girl, have said something to the affect of…’wow, I bet that was awkward…but it must be great having such honesty with someone.’ You better believe it was difficult… but I’d gladly do it again in any situation for what it’s worth.
So no…you Seminary sweethearts are not any less than us to the undergrads. And equally, the undergrad girls are not less than you. Every one of us falls short in different distances at different times from the Lord’s call to perfection and radical honesty. I’ll tell you right now…if we thought so little of you Seminary girls, then why have a good number of us put our hearts on the line by asking you to coffee, dinner, heck, anything will do last I checked. We adore you, probably to our detriment more often than not. You are that kind of great. I was telling my Mom today, which is the same thing I told her one month into last semester…these women are phenomenal! You don’t need to hear that from men, because you should be hearing it women… I get it. But nevertheless, you are. From “missionary biographies,” and “clog dancers,” to “Mango pies” and “Irish hugs”…you are women of God.
Even that sentence was difficult to write because those references referred to four specific women. Just so we’re clear: Those comments were from a brother in Christ and as nothing more (tell me if that wasn’t good for you to hear by the way). I’m willing to personally back way off the comments/compliments, and have been, all for the sake that even if they might make things difficult for one of y’all…that’s reason enough. After all, the only reason I should be saying any of them in the first place, is to uplift and encourage my sisters. If that desired result is nowhere in sight, then I happily choose not to say a thing.
I understand that the women of this school are, in very real ways, like women anywhere else…they are emotional beings, which certainly includes the capacity to being sensitive to words. Shmucks like me test the waters by default by giving you something new and dangerous in asking you why you answered the way you did to something. Like I said, I’ll keep backing off for the sake of honesty and Love.
What I will never back off of though, so long as I can help it, is the idea that we are not being as completely and endearingly honest as Christ was in every interaction. Do you think I didn’t ponder long and hard before I published the last blog the fact that the whole world would now read that we are not being Christ in this way? Do you think that didn’t make my stomach literally begin to ache? It did. It still does! But I would rather boast in my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me…for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Here me now all non-believers who are reading this…we have a God who is perfect, but we all fall short. Yet, because of our perfect God loves us enough to endure what must have felt like Cosmic child-abuse, we stand absolved, purified and made new. We keep this purchased-from-death posture as we stumble and bumble over our shortcomings, all the while running after the One who is perfect: Christ.
If hypocrisy is the biggest frustration for most non-believers toward us Christians…then may we always be willing to humble ourselves, wholly, face-to-face with others, in our prayers for the world, and yes, even in pathetic yet honest blogs, all in order to paint a landscape that is riddled with the frailty of our Fallen condition fighting endlessly against our willingness and resilience as believers.
So, a very new friend of mine (who happens to mumble like me at times…(very encouraging to know there’s more than just me out there who does that)…commented that “it’s probably just an unfortunate part of life that while remaining single and still wanting to make and maintain friendships, people will simply misinterpret things.” I’m sure she’d agree with me, that is in every way an explanation…NOT a justification! It’s not okay that this occurs. It’s not okay that radical honesty/Christ’s honesty is not all that ever flows from our hearts to our mouths and out into the world.
This is actually very simple to me, although for application’s sake, I am always looking for good input…we simply need to love one another the way we are Commanded to: with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. It’s ALL of each of those! So, as I go out tomorrow and see all the wonderful women and men on this campus who I know are struggling to Love like Christ continues to love us… I take heart… for I know we will all fail today.
But may we live in a way that is so consumed with Love for Christ that we struggle to sin. May Christ make us stumble for His sake…trip us up Lord as we always drift back to our darkness!
May my words not hurt so much as agitate and exhort all of us to excellence. If it felt like a slap in the face ladies, I say again, either that slap wasn’t meant for you as much as the next, (in which case let it go…it’s just a blog) or you are getting all upset because you are as guilty as we are of not doing this honesty thing with as much excellence is as needed.
You want to hear honesty…my roommate just walked in to my room at now 3:30AM in the morning and momentarily broke down… draped over my back, as I sat red-eyed at my desk typing away into the night because I can’t sleep thinking I hurt you ladies, he began to all but cry into my shirt. This is something, and at times it feels like everything we are fighting for…you (ladies). He drapes himself over an equally distraught soul and mumbles into my shoulder, “I can’t go on.”
He’s fighting for Honesty and for a heart that screams, Christ alone! He’s fighting for you! You have no idea what we go through as men if we are fighting whole-heartedly for the greatest thing on earth, one another (this means you, His daughters)…just like we will never be able to fully appreciate the way y’all fight for us for those of you who fight with your whole heart.
I hate this…I hate that I feel helpless and that my eyes sting from tears as much as computer screen. I hate that my roommate is lying wide awake in his bed right now, either staring endlessly at his ceiling just wishing he could do right by the women here and by His God, or all butsuffocating himself in his pillow, begging that he endure every night as bad as this and more if it means he can do right by you, His daughters.
Some warriors huh? One faint Saint comes to buckle over on another…and all I can offer Him in return is a cold hand on top of his, and a deep choppy exhale, for I know all to well the evil he battles with.
So, forgive me if this blog, or any blog, ever came off as something seemingly over-confident, where you, even for second, thought it was easy for me to “slap you in the face” as some of you put it. If I had strength to actually do that, maybe then it might have happened. There are men in this apartment, as well as others, who are running them self down to absolutely nothing for you ladies every single damn day. So forgive me again if I write a blog where I simply want to know how we can all do this thing called loving one another better. That is what I wanted to communicate above all else. This is what keeps half my apartment up ’til almost 4:00AM in the morning more than a few times a week. This is what makes our eyes sting when you’re not around to see, thankfully. This is what topples us over one another in sighs and desperation, as we pray for strength from above just to then turn around and spend it on the same cause…you…all over again.
So, I’m sorry that our culture is our God at times, warping our minds into places where we can’t even feel comfortable Loving the way Christ loved. I’m sorry that when you get to the most basic center of all the men’s hearts here at this school, you should find a voice that says, without question or even regard to how you might take it…”I love you.”
We love you enough to not evenshow it, if need be… Until that is, we can all find a place to meet in the middle where we can all then congregate around the Love that doesn’t care about the culture of this world…it cares about the people. In the world, not if it!
Here’s to the Great Divorce of ourselves from our culture, who I might add, has been cheating on us since day one. We fight for you, Daughter’s of Christ…if you know how we can do this better…please, arm us!
Sleep for both of us Sister…for tonight, we know not rest.