Wednesday, July 13, 2016

On Holding Back Less

I blurted it out, shocking myself more, I think, than the person I said it to.  In all their unadorned honesty the words were out, like marbles rolling across the floor--I had asked my friend why she couldn't, "Just be grateful." 

The evening was wrapping itself around us like a cloak as we drove back to my home, where her car was parked. She has had a lot to deal with over a prolonged period of time but I knew that her sense of  hopelessness was compounded by seeing things at the moment through a lens darkened by weariness. The words had popped out--starkly. I tried to explain what I really meant. "What you focus on, grows," I said, "gratitude is a powerful focus."

I thought of a book that I thought would be helpful, its focus on thankfulness in spite of circumstances--One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. Before she drove off into the dark night, I promised to get a copy to her. But still I felt dismayed at what I'd said and that I was a crummy friend. I ordered a copy of the book to be delivered to her home--a belated birthday present.

It was a week later that she texted me (text shared with her permission):
It's starting--I'm starting to live "eucheristeo" (a Greek word meaning thanksgiving, to be thankful) I was THANKFUL to be given the day with my best friend and I told her all about Ann Voskamp and that thankfulness is the KEY to abundant life, true joy and witnessing miracles. . Dearest, I can't STOP breathing "thank you, Father" !!! I had a lovely thought that I would promise Him that I would tell as many people about eucharisteo as I had things to be thankful for...I don't think I will be able to, but I can try...Thank you for my birthday present...did you realize that you were giving me my life back (and better) when you clicked the "buy" button on Amazon???
To say I was grateful is an understatement. God can use even a graceless blurt it seems. But I've been thinking about how often we hold back from saying something that might be helpful, out of politeness, or fear, or not wanting to rock the boat--and what is then lost.

Our 18 year old granddaughter Tippy is staying with us for the summer and it's kind of like having a mirror held up to our lives. Sometimes it's hilarious, sometimes embarrassing--but I am grateful for her unfiltered insights. 

Paul and I were having a discussion recently when Tippy happened to be present, and her eyes widened as she perceived where it was going. "Why don't you just ask him?" she laughed at me, as it was obvious to her that I was making my point indirectly, but our wires were getting crossed. And then she shook her head, her eyes dancing with merriment. "You guys are like teenagers," she said. We are in our sixties, with a teenage life-coach! 

But her gentle, unintentional rebuke, made me think, and I was grateful. I know I can get better at communicating.

Whatever we say should be kind and loving and I'm not suggesting that "Why can't you just be grateful?" fits into that category. But I think that we need more from one another than we sometimes get in terms of challenge. The verse below puts it well in what it has to say about a wise friend's timely reprimand. Check it out--and I'd love to hear your thoughts too.  

Proverbs 25:12, The Message (MSG)


Marilyn Yocum said...

"We were in our sixties with a teen-age life coach!" This sounds about right, Belinda. My youngest often makes objective observations that are completely correct. I'm always left wondering how I missed what was obvious, how the conversational dynamics slipped into a flawed state, how I'm either holding back or going on attack, neither of which is me. It can happen so easily.

I love how you tied this in with your forthright comment to your friend, how, while it may have been a graceless blurting, as you called it, it did directly point out something that was needed and life/perspective changing.

The "gentle, unintentional rebuke"....yes. May we be willing to step up to offer it in love. Also, to receive it.

Belinda Burston said...

Dear Marilyn, Thank you for reading and commenting with such kindness. We have blind spots and it's handy having a third party observer in the house right now. :) I'm making the most of it!
Hugs from a not so distant land. :)

arils and castles said...

Your post made me smile. What a tension. I love that book by the way - gratitude is truly life giving.

As I read your words I can see myself on both sides of the coin. Praying to be more like Christ ...full of grace and truth. Grace - that I need for the times I have made those same mistakes of words that came out wrong. Also full of truth - loving others enough to be honest with them. Also seeking God's help to be humble to receive the truth when it may be hard for me to hear.

Belinda - you are one of my gifts that I am very grateful for in my life. You are authentic, willing to admit when you miss the mark, and you love others in such a way that you want them to live transformed by the truth.

blessings, Nicole

Belinda Burston said...

Dear Nicole, thank you for sharing your reflections on the skill of "admonishing one another."
So much to learn.

I treasure your friendship greatly and am so glad that you are sharing your thoughts and insights on Arils and Castles, which people can reach by clicking on your the link in your comment. :)

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