Thursday, January 20, 2011

Probably Gonna Hurt Your Feelings

Talking truth hurts. Often. Especially if it's really truth and you care about the people you're talking it to. Sometimes it hurts the teller and the listener, but sometimes, you have to stop biting your tongue and speak.

Life doesn't deal us the hand we'd like for ourselves very often. It's hardly ever even close to what we thought we were promised. But, as one of my neighbors tells her kids, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit." Good life advice.

So, in that spirit, let's talk. Let's put our guard down for a few minutes, be tender hearted with each other and hear.

Whether you are child or parent or spouse, there are places in your life where someone is supposed to be the leader. When you're the child, your parents are supposed to be the leaders and providers. Not necessarily in the form of a great big pay check and an easy lifestyle, but in example of small and large things. It can really be as simple as kids seeing their parents take the trash out every week or as critical as being men and women of their word. The same for a spouse or a single. You entered this place believing that your boss would lead you, advise you, help you in certain ways in your job. You entered into a marriage believing in partnership but also that there would be certain areas your spouse would be the leaders. Stereotypically it would be the wife leading in areas like meals and child raising and the husband in provision and faith and direction for the family.

Well, life's not perfect. No one ever claimed it might be, well, except for maybe all those people pushing fantasy down our throats and calling it entertainment. No matter what your role or roles, you may find that your leader isn't leading. In fact, you're close to lost in your drifting.

These are hard and scary places to live. It's depressing and lonely and down right frightening to think no one is looking out for you, no one has a plan and life is just happening to you. It's a double whammy if you're a Christian. We get ourselves twisted in our scripture about honoring parents and people of authority, of having our husbands be the leader of the home. I'm not denying scripture. It does say all those things.

God also wants us to be wise. To care for ourselves and for those around us. I can't believe that God would want any of us lost and drifting, sitting back on our whine and fear, using someone elses failure to lead as an excuse for our own destruction.

I think it's okay to wait on your leader person for a while to see if they step up and do what needs to be done. I think it's critical to pray over it all and wait for God's answer to you. But be listening and then take action.

There will be times in life, in some of your roles, when you will recognize the leader isn't leading, no one is leading, and you're all drowning. Maybe it's just a season. Maybe it will always be that way. You won't know until it's over.

In the mean time, you need to step into the gap.

As a child, it may mean that you, simply--as if this were simple--simply recognize and accept that for this piece of time, your parent isn't going to do what they need to do for you and you need to find another way. The reasons why they can't don't really matter. The fact that you need to figure it out for yourself and keep striving, does. Maybe you don't get the support or example you feel you need from your parent. Go find another adult to be a mentor or friend. Yeah. It's hard. But you need to do it. Maybe it's all about money for you. Then find a way to make the money you feel you need. Jobs are hard work. Hard to get, hard to keep, but that's how it is.

Maybe you're the employee and your boss isn't going to bat for you. Find the ways to make your work shine and put yourself out there where you will be seen for doing what you do. Ask the questions. Make the contacts. Put in the time and effort it takes to figure it out.

Maybe you're the spouse and the leadership is lost. Depending on how long you've been waiting and how God has been working, it might be time to simply say, I can wait no longer and begin. Someone has to be making the calls and providing direction, drawing up a plan. Even if it's not the best plan or mistakes are made, forward is better than going under.

I know, I'm making it all seem too simple. It can't just be as easy as looking up one day and saying hey, if this is what needs to be done, then I have to find a way and figure out how to get it done, and then doing it, could it? I mean, could it really be that easy?

Could any part of our life really be that easy? So I want my house to be cleaner--yes, you know me that well--guess what, it's not going to clean itself. The only way it gets cleaner is when I turn off all the "fun" stuff and do the work. I want less toys in the kids rooms, well big shocker, I have to go take a pile of toys out and donate them myself. No one else is going to do it for me. I want my book finished? Well then I need to write and edit, not wait for someone to force me to do it. My yard needs mowing? Well, either I mow it or I hire someone to do it.

What about the really hard stuff? Like parenting. Like debt. Like marriage issues. Like faith issues.

Well, guess what, it's still simple. You still have to do it. I won't say it will be easy or painless because it's the opposite. It will be hard and gut wrenching especially as you are doing it "alone" while watching and waiting for your leader to step back into their role, knowing that they might or might not step in. Maybe you're the person who has to say, it's time, we're going to have this marriage conversation now, no more waiting. Maybe you're going to have to be the one to devise a super tight budget and then hold everyone, including yourself to it, knowing that your leader may sabotage the whole thing or refuse to play or even turn on you. Maybe you have to be the one to make the break through with those kids or repair broken relationships with them all on your own.

You might have to recognize that the fear of hurting your leaders feelings or pride is keeping you from doing the things you need to do to survive, to thrive, to be who you were created to be.

This life we live here on the blue ball is messy. No lie. It is.

I'm in no way making light. I'm not. I'm saying, we-myself included-allow ourselves to drift and be washed away by our own lives with the excuse of someone else should have, was supposed to, blah, blah, blah.

It's hard. No lie. But we all have these areas in our lives, big or small or both, where we need to look in the mirror for real, look at our life for real and get on the ball. It's no use to sit back and say but the Bible said, and they should have and how could I, and, no. The answer is no. If you don't go there first and step into the gap a tipping point will come and it will be so much harder. Crisis moves a person to action, that it does, but it's better to go there first. The disaster may still strike, but you'll already have your feet under you. And yeah, there will be times when your feet go out from under you. We all have those. Some hide it better than others, that's all.

So I guess that's my truth talking challenge to you. Look at your life for real, the way an outsider would. Do you see anything? Where are the spots you need to step in and be the leader of your own life, of the lives of the people you are responsible for or the people you love? See it? I see it in my own life. Now, what are you going to do about it? I hope you take action.

And there's a PS. to all this. Seeing that your leader is not leading and you have to step in and take over for a time can hurt. It can be, depending on the situation, parents, children, spouses, a time of mourning and loss of a dream you've held onto and rightly so. Be tender with yourself. Let God be tender with you.