She has been at our church for six months now. She has a story that has yet to be told. I heard bits and pieces this evening. Asking more questions and learning more about her. And then I went home. David texted me and told me we needed dog food.
On my way home I stopped at Target for some dog food. A man was juggling many items, so I pulled a cart for him. He thanked me and I headed towards the dog food section. I circled the store three times, because I was lost in my thoughts. I kept thinking of the perimeter of friendships and this woman at church. Years of being involved in the lives of women, it is always safest to keep on the perimeter. Only a few come into the space closest to my heart. Only a few I trust, and only a few really know me. I have been blessed with some pretty amazing friends who have walked with me for my entire adult life. I have to say that even in those early days of making friends it was safest to start at the perimeter and cautiously and slowly allow them closer to the center where my heart is.
There have been times when women have busted through my perimeter and then there is confusion and chaotic measures of drama. These kinds of friendships have taught me that it is safest to keep things at the line of the perimeter. Until I met her on Sunday evening.Then I write more, read more and learn more about what it means to be a follower of Christ.
I am not going to lie. I have had drama circling me these past few months. Chaotic measures of drama and my perimeter was bent, torn, and busted through in ways that I am not even proud of my response to it all. Reminding me why I keep new friendships on the perimeter. Ewww, it did not feel good, it was messy, and it was not something that would turn out in favorable ways. The immediate response is to keep the lines of the perimeter broader, thicker, and taller. Protect my heart, protect those around me. Until I met her. There have been many "hers". ThenGod uses and teaches and keeps pushing me to the line.
We plopped our handbags on the table, blew on our coffee & tea and then that awkward moment of wondering who would be the first to say hello. Funny, this moment is rarely awkward for me, but that night, her eyes looking away and down. Had her perimeter been damaged? Was I standing so close that the aroma of my coffee trumped her tea? She looked up again and said hello, so I said hello back. She was not familiar to me, so it makes sense to ask an easy question. "How long have you attended this church?" She answered, "only six months." And then her story began to spill out in bits and pieces. Scattered, as if if she stopped I might walk away because her story is messy. I stayed, and i asked more questions. Then I wanted to leave. I didn't want to hear of another messy broken marriage. Another woman, going it on her own. Another mama heart that aches to know that her son is suffering, but I stayed and I listened.
I did not get her name, or her phone number, She told me her name, but 45 minutes later, my coffee now cold, I could not remember and she dashed out. As if she knew she had said to much. She did not. I have stories too. Do we dash away from the stories of others? Sometimes I do, because I am vulnerable. Sometimes I do because I have to meet the needs of my family. Sometimes I do, because perhaps I am in a season of being hurt by my own messy that I don't have the energy to be around someone else's' messy.
Then I think of Jesus. Thinking of all the messy situations he was right there in the middle of. Ever notice in John that Jesus never calls out sin in another? I am no Bible scholar, but as I observe the character of Christ I notice this about him. He asks a lot of questions. And in asking questions, he draws out the broken hearts, the scared, the weary, and blind. He never even says, blind man what do you want? He simply asks, "What do you want." He allows people to tell a little of their story. He allows people, over and over to break through the perimeter and touch his heart. It got messy for Jesus, often and yet he did not change his love, acceptance, care and asking of questions.
Do I want to be like Jesus? Yes. Do you want to be like Jesus? Start reading about his life and just watch. I am not sure who that woman was that one Sunday evening in church. I hope that she felt love and acceptance. In my last post, I said that Jesus was "with" people. Next time you see someone, a stranger, someone who is alone, take some time, or just a few moments to just be "with" them.
How is your heart challenged to be with people, even when your perimeter?