One of my very best friends–let’s call her Lucy–lives in another state from me. This is nothing new as most of us spread out. I love her a lot and she knows me down deep in my soul. She has also “enjoyed” a front row seat to some of the most painful and difficult parts of my life–from break ups to the inner workings and complications of family. Still, we’ve been a part for awhile and so when she made a comment in the past year about some of the things I struggled with when we did live with each other, sin patterns, and immaturity in certain areas, it kind of bothered me. Not in the way that I would hold it against her but just because in the last year, a lot has changed for me. I have changed. I can practically feel myself growing in certain moments, specifically in conflict and how I handle it. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into the person I was at twenty one.
It probably also bothered me because sometimes I feel as if parts of my family still view me and my actions with a lens that shoots me at sixteen or eighteen years ago. Those were definitely not my finest years. I don’t think they are anyone’s finest but add a divorce and all the things that come with that and I was no fun.
Along with a bundle of other books, I’ve been enjoying Donald Miller’s Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy (kindle | hardcover). For years, I have struggled with a particular relationship in my life. I’ve tried creating boundaries (Dr. Henry Cloud anyone? Another great read Changes that Heal and less than two dollars kindle | paperback). I’ve tried playing by this person’s rules (which is not possible, at least for me). I’ve tried taking steps back. I’ve tried taking entire breaks. Once I even convinced myself to end the relationship completely. But this isn’t a boyfriend or a friend. This isn’t someone I can or want completely out of my life.
The problem is that as Miller writes, our hearts deserve protecting and “some people are not safe” (69).
After yet another break several months ago, I decided to keep it very casual. This is a lot easier said then done because where I come from? The Italians? We love hard and tight and we are all in each other business. But this time was different because something changed for me and Donald Miller put into words:
“After distancing myself from my friend I loved him more, not less. I protected myself for sure, but my anger went away. Once he wasn’t hurting me anymore, I could finally have compassion and grace” (71).
I can say that I am there. After years and years of tears, sobbing until I could barely breathe in my bed, on the bathroom floor, panic attacks, and hurt that felt as if it stretched me wide open with an ache so intense I found other ways, little ways, to hurt myself to lessen this huge, gaping wound, I can say that this person doesn’t hurt me anymore. That doesn’t mean this person doesn’t do hurtful things or things that in the past would have bruised and wrecked me. It does mean that the anger is gone and in its place there is the compassion and grace Miller writes about.
I never thought I would get here. Part of it is just growing up. Part of it is growing out, being sanctified by the Lord. Things are in a good place right now, at least on my end, and as far I know, on the other person’s end as well. For so long, while I was doing that sobbing on the bathroom floor, I was begging God to change the other person. I still pray for that person but they are very different prayers. Like Donald Miller describes, love and grace and compassion have filled the space where anger lived for so long. It’s me that’s done the changing.
And I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be–if one wants to stop sobbing on the bathroom floor.
I longed for freedom and I didn’t know what that meant. It would hurt too badly to cut this person out and it hurt to have them in my life. I longed for freedom without any clear picture of what it looked like. Now, in this area, I have it. I just have to keep choosing to live in it. Thank God.
P.S. There is a second post coming today about a super important topic. And next Thursday, you know the days when I get really real, I’m going to tell you about a date I went on. Finally, starting tomorrow with the best giveaway I’ve ever done (with some great other bloggers) into next week, get ready for a summer filled to the brim with fun content. I’m pushing and challenging myself and I think you will enjoy it.
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