I have a friend who has an illness. She's had it for a few years now. When she wants to hang out with me, she asks me to do something for her and then goes over the top about explaining that she'd do it herself, but her condition is making it too hard for her.
I have told her that I like hanging out with her and that she doesn't have to make excuses in order to get me to visit with her. But she continues to come up with things that she needs and then explains over and over and over that her illness makes life hard for her.
Now I have no problem with her being concerned about her illness. Frankly, I'm concerned as well. I don't mind her talking about it or how it makes her life difficult. I want her to share with me her fears and doubts as well as her ideas and memories and dreams. But I tend to feel a bit manipulated when we hang out. Yes, she's an emotional vampire, and it's kind of exhausting spending much time with her, but still. I like her. She's kind and interesting and loves my kids. and I gotta admit that I love feeling useful and appreciated and needed.
but I also feel like she cheapens our friendship. (I probably do too. As you're about to see.)
With all the talk about her illness, it feels like she's trying to guilt me into helping her. As if I wouldn't help her if she just told me about her need. And she's always trying to pay me for something. If I drive her somewhere, she's wants to pay for gas. She's uncomfortable if I don't accept her money. And I never know if I'm taking away her dignity if I don't accept or whether I need to be super intentional about letting her know that I'm not doing it for the money. She's my friend. That's what I do with my friends.
But she doesn't see it that way. I don't think she realizes that we're friends. I don't think she can let that into her heart. and that makes me so sad for her.
and I know that I do the same thing with God. I try to earn my way into His family. Not accepting that He chose me and there's nothing I can be or do that will change that. He loves me. Not because of anything I did or didn't do. He loves me because He chooses to love me. He WANTS me to be His friend.
Mind-blowing, I know.
I find it sooo hard to accept that. I too tend to cheapen all of my relationships. If I can't offer a 'fancy' meal with place settings that will Rock+Their+World, I don't tend to invite people over. As if anyone cares about that. If I didn't clear the sink of dirty dishes, I tend to try to make up for it by pointing out the pile of clean clothes (that I probably have yet to fold and put away) or the fact that I'm being 'fun' and microwaving our dinners tonight (that's right, I WENT there). If I can't think of something witty and charming to say, I won't call anyone. and if I can't present a clean, pure heart, I don't tend to offer much to God either.
I also cheapen God by trying to fill His role in my life with counterfeit junk. I found a stash of beautiful fabrics at Joann's tonight. On clearance! Swoooooooon. I snatched it up dreaming of all the A-MAZING things I'm going to create with it. It felt s o o o o good to be inspired and have things around me to play with. and I realized that I was trying to soothe a super raw heart that had been called out during church this morning. My face (still) hurts from trying to hide my darn tears that just would not stop flowing. I was not ready to share about it. I supposed I'm still not ready. and this is a group of people that I feel very comfortable being honest with. I have shared some STUFF with them, and they have been nothing but supportive and encouraging, and they have prayed for me, and I have felt (the opposite of alone). and yet, I am cheapening their friendship, their fellowship. By sitting there in my seat, tears pouring out of my face like that, and then saying "I'm fine" when they ask is BS. I'm telling them that I'm not willing to let them in and that most likely makes them feel that they shouldn't ask to be let in as well. I'm also cheapening my need. I'm trying to gloss over my stupid need and treat it with something that will certainly numb it for a time, but will not EVER be enough. This need can only be treated by me slaying my pride and offering my messy, yucky, hurt heart anyway. By letting God in. By letting God bring people into my life that I'm supposed to share my messy, yucky, hurt heart with. And then they can share their messy, yucky, hurt hearts with me.
It's beautiful. At least, it's supposed to be. and I'm keeping alllllll that beauty away. Trying to soothe it with beautiful THINGS.
God, help me. Take away my stupid pride. Hold my hand as I sit with the yuck and really look at it. With you. Forgive me. I invite You in. Help me see it for what it is. Please help me reject the counterfeit junk and seek You. And help me as I try to align my will with Your Will. I imagine that Satan is really enjoying just how easy it is to distract me. I am sorry, sweet Savior. I want You. I need You. I love You.
(oh yea, I feel the need to point out that I don't believe that there's anything wrong with buying fabric and being artsy fartsy or with letting the dishes pile up for a night or even accepting money from a friend. Buying fabric just happened to be what I was doing today to distract myself from dealing with the stuff God brought up for me. Piled up dishes seem to be a staple in our house. So much so that if they aren't there when you come over for a visit, I'm trying to impress you. and sometimes you should let people appreciate you with their money. It's not that I wouldn't accept money for a service that I do for friends, but the stuff I've done for this lady, I did because I wanted to spend time with her. It felt like my friendship wasn't noticed. Just my service. That was my beef. I'm sure people have that same beef with me and my kooky ways. Ok, I'm done.)