photo credit: Glasses on paper via photopin (license)

The din of the local coffeeshop, folks discussing a myriad of topics, infinite options..job opportunities, wrinkles, neighbor problems. A small cross section of Boulder County American life. A typical morning, relationships of all shapes and sizes forming, growing. Hellos and good-byes. Reunions with faces long unseen. Children with mothers seeking caffeinated sanity. Slices of life, random Thursday mornings.

Ordinary life. How are you? Fine. Good. Okay. How much do we really know what happens in a soul, a body, under the serene surface? What is bubbling under the fines, goods and okays? What beauty? What strife? Which questions are being pondered and agonized? What isn’t being said?

Some friends I can look at and just Know. The underneath is a boil, scalding hot pain, leeching, uncertain.

Some friends I can listen to and just Hear. The edge of precipice, the fear of a leap, the agonizing questions without answers, answers that will not come without risk, without surrender. Successes shared with but a few.

Some friends, I am present with and gain strength. I know and hear and see the lives lived, the pain forged through, the hearts on sleeves, the joy released, the fear overcome. These same friends know the depth of what is bubbling under my surfaces, even though I don’t fully know the cauldron some days. Honestly, the number of people where I am privy to the revealed highs and lows is a handful at best.

The good, fine and okay friends have to be satisfied with my goods, fines and okays. Moments with the deepest revelations come with well built trust, patient compassion, abundant grace and suspended judgment. They come with merciful, humble and listening hearts. My open mouth, one who openly shares regularly, must believe and know the person on the other side has my back. She has my best interests at heart, in agreement or disagreement, knowing when to speak her truth to me as she sees it. Sometimes, though, truth is not necessary nor does it need to be shared. It needs to hibernate for later or never. Sometimes truth needs to be requested. Mostly, it is about asking good questions, timely questions, an inquisitive stance. The people who get the information out of me are the ones who love me, not because they say it, but because they do it. They do love…they do grace, they do mercy, they do judgement suspension.

In my early years, I believed truth had to be told, if I knew the truth, I was obligated to tell. No more. It is about responding to a person with patient compassion and wide openness. Brutal honesty may work for some, but for me brutal honesty could put me in the hospital, the dissemination of words and thoughts without overflowing sensitivity is my Hell. My greatest fear, my deepest wound.

There are times, however, for painful truth, for others speaking when I’ve said a cavalier word, or created a hurtful moment…the things I do or say that damage another. I pray I hear and receive without blame and defensiveness, that I listen with my heart, with love for the person who respects and cares for me enough to tell me. I pray my perceived fragility and insecurity do not cloud a timely truth telling.

Why I am capable of doing to others what hurts me most will forever be a mystery. I cringe when words come flying with abandon out of my face aimed at the softest parts of those I love the deepest. Words I could never take, that if directed at me would handicap so horribly.  Words expertly lobbed at my husband, my children.

Forgiveness is my salvation. Forgiveness is my only hope some days…when I wound another and I receive an “I forgive you” in return. This is how we do love, how we do grace, how we do mercy, how we do judgment suspension. I forgive you, I have your back. You are my friend, and I love you.

photo credit: Glasses on paper via photopin (license)

One thought on “Words

  1. Jen, I love this as it reminds me of all the times your gentle words and listening ear have meant so much to me. Your friendship is an important gift in my life. Xo, Annie

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