Friday, August 12, 2016

Inviting Yourself In

Have you ever had a time in your life that you just knew was a time of immense transformation? Or maybe a time when you didn't realize it right then, but later looked back and could pinpoint an exact stretch that involved a life-changing experience? I'm there right now.  And I'm very aware of it.  My last few posts (At Your Own PaceThe Growing & The Stretching: Part III, & The Wrong Ladder) have alluded to that, but I'm actually facing the reality of that these days and sitting with all of the feelings that come with that.

Do you want to know what I'm doing these days that is so different from how I've lived before? I'm doing something that I would normally shy away from.  I'm doing things about which I would normally say, "Oh-- that makes me nervous," or "That sounds really awkward."  Do you know what it is? I'm learning to sit in the living rooms of people I love.  I'm learning to sit in their living rooms when I know there's a lot that needs to be unpacked there.  I'm learning to push through my red flags that scream "Awkward!" or "This is making me uncomfortable!" And what I'm finding are souls that are in desperate need of rescue.  They need a lifeline, and sometimes I'm the lifeline sitting right before them, one of a few people who will open the front door and push my way into their lives, past awkwardness and past uncomfortable feelings and past the baggage sitting at the door.

I've been, essentially, inviting myself in.  I've been inviting myself into people's lives, into their homes, and while I'm not exactly intruding, I'm being intentional about being present in their lives.  And it's something I've never done before, but that lately, I feel called to do.  These days, I'm more aware of those who are hurting around me.  I'm more aware of anger and sorrow, of deep wounds and burnt flesh, of fake smiles and the feelings beneath them.  And God is calling me to sit in the living rooms of the people I love in the midst of their immense sorrow, and He's calling me to love them.

I can't describe what it's doing to me, but it's changing me in deep ways. I've sat in many living rooms this week that have forced me to sit with the uncomfortable feelings and awkward situations around me.  I sat in the living room of a friend who has been tough to get to lately, a friend whose living room is one that I've loved for so long.  Her living room reminds me of my days before marriage-- my days when my apartment was cute and girly, when I did things on a whim and didn't have to check in with someone when I wanted to make a big purchase or leave without taking care of the dog.  I sat in her living room recently feeling the weight of awkward and unusual, but as I sat there, I also felt the depth of her sorrow and the weight of all she has been through.  I sat in the living room of another friend this week who has been stripped of all that is meaningful, all that has identified and structured their life thus far.  And I've allowed conversation to unfold in ways that would normally make the hair on my spine stick straight up, but I've push through and sat with it and let those feelings dwell.

Dwelling with uncomfortable feelings in the midst of comfortable people and comfortable places is what I need to do more of.  The people in my life are hurting lately, and as I give up pieces of responsibility and identity that I no longer cling to, I'm learning to fill in those spaces with relationships and love and people who need more of that.  And God, through His Holy Spirit, is giving me words to speak and prayers to pray and the ability to just sit in silence when moments require nothing more than that.

Sometimes we just sit.  Or sometimes we drink coffee, or tea, or wine.  Sometimes we dance around subjects that are weighing us down and sometimes we dive right in, unpacking them piece by piece until we find some clarity.  Sometimes we watch TV and sometimes we read Scripture and sometimes we pray.  Sometimes it's really fun and sometimes I want to burst into tears for them.

But I'm thankful.  Thankful for those moments, and thankful for those people.  Thankful for the living rooms and thankful for Jesus being present in them.  Thankful for words to speak, thankful for courage to sit and dwell with whatever baggage and burdens lie there.

If there are people in your life that are going through something, invite yourself in.  Don't let them sit alone in their living rooms.  Invite yourself in and help them unpack the baggage.  And if they're not ready to, invite yourself in and just sit.  Talk about work or cooking or a TV show, or puppies and coffee and flowers.  But don't stay outside on the porch peering in, wondering how they're doing.  Invite yourself in and be part of what they're going through.  God will give you what you need to be part of that living room, part of that journey.  I'm thankful for the people who have been on the other side of the door when I've invited myself in, and I'm thankful for their courage in saying yes to me sitting in the midst of sorrow and grief and stress and worry with them.  For their courage in grabbing on when my hand was reaching out instead of slamming the door in my face.


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