I can be a really crappy friend.
I blame it on 20 years of coaching high-level gymnasts. 25+ hours a week spent with “my girls” where I was paid to point out flaws and demand correction. The expectation being issues were to be taken care of regardless of fear, mood, health, environment, or whatever.
No excuses. !NO DRAMA!
Just fix it so you can move on and be better.
While this made me one heck of a successful coach (if performance is the litmus test), it also has made me a crappy friend to others and to myself.
In the special needs community, there are many “support” groups.
I put support in “quotations” because they never seemed to support the way I wanted to be carried. It just seemed like self-loathing with no plan at the end of the hour to move beyond the grief. Rather than being tended to on the mat after a painful crash, I wanted coaching to keep me from falling in the first place.
Give me a correction or this is just a waste of time.
Can you see how this mind set might make me a crappy friend?
If you don’t believe me, I’ll give you the names of a few (forgiving!) friends to ask. Or you can talk to a bible study group that had to listen to me defend why Job’s friends were great for not sitting with him in the grief but rather telling him what needed to change.
You know who is a great friend?
John 1:17 tells us why. Jesus came full of both truth and grace. In general, we tend to bend more to one side or the other. Clearly, I bend waaaaaay over to truth. Maybe so much so I’m doing a backbend (once a gymnast, always a gymnast).
However, if I want to be an all-around athlete with moves more like Jesus in both truth and grace (rather than an event specialist) then I need my coach to stretch me. I need my coach to stretch me into the area of grace.
Jesus is a great coach and has been stretching me. But here’s the thing. In typical Jesus style,
He is not teaching me what I should do but rather what He can do.
His correction is not to try harder regardless of fear, mood, health, environment, or whatever. His correction is gentle. It is full of the truth that I can’t change myself and full of grace in filling me with more of Him so my heart begins to beat like His.
Let me share with you how this is all shaping up.
In 2012 I moved across the country
With in 6 months of the cross country move:
my dad died behind the wheel of a car
my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was slated to move in with us
we learned my special needs daughter was being abused
she also was regressing rapidly.
I was taking red eye flights from California to South Carolina to prepare my parent's house to be sold that they lived in for 30 years
I was learning new terms like probate and irrevocable trust and dealing with insurance for Dad’s car
I was sorting through how to set up mom’s financial future
There were significant and intense meetings with the school district that required legal council
I had a breast cancer scare
Oh…and then my grandfather died bringing me back to the graveyard where the plot nearby still had unsettled dirt from my dad’s grave
You are going to roll your eyes at this next part.
Around this time I started having really weird health things presenting themselves in a neurological kind of way. Test after test was done and all of the doctors said nothing was wrong and it was just stress.
Wanna know my reaction?
Annoyance. I claimed I was not stressed. I don’t get stressed.
I was so annoyed the “correction” given was to sit and heal rather than being told something to fix so I could move on and be better.
Isn’t it true we can’t fully give to others what we won’t give to ourselves?
God began to reveal the sin keeping me from balancing truth and grace.
Pride. There’s that pride again. It certainly comes up a lot.
I want doctors to tell me what I can do to fix myself.
I want friends to tell me where I can work to improve.
Me. Me. Me. Doing. Doing. Doing.
Meanwhile, God is saying (with truth and grace) “be still and let me heal you.”
Around this time I was trying really hard to be joyful. (As I type that out now, it even sounds silly!) I wanted Paul like joy where regardless of what was happening around me I was singing praises.
I tried so hard investigating and implementing self-help tools of how to be joyful. What correction did I need to implement? And so it went for several months with me working on my joy.
Finally, God made it clear that it was HIM who makes changes, not me.
The way to Paul-like joy is NOT what I do, but rather what He does in me.
All I have to do is be with Him.
All I have to do is pray for more of Him and less of me (repentance). Spend more time with Him (relationship). I can’t make the fruit grow, He does. More of Him brings more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control (Galatians 5:22-23)
Really? It’s not what I do? Is that why tens of thousands of self help books continue to come and go yet the bible remains?
Are the grace and truth of Jesus really the formula to “get over it?”
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
My hope is in 2017 you can be with your perfect friend in Jesus. I hope He can be the coach stretching you toward truths you need to address. I hope He is invited to sit with you on the mat to give you the grace required to get back up. May this be a year you do not have to get over but rather pours love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control over you.
Happy New Year, friends.
Blog Post: 50 Shades of Gray Done God’s Way
Podcast: Aching Joy