Stretched!!!

Stretched

I started out writing this for myself, just to organize my thoughts as I often do when I am contemplating issues, it actually helps me to think when I write…then I posted a short Facebook status update and a few of you asked me to elaborate on what I was pondering…so this is for you… This is just me being transparent and weighing a lesson that I believe I still only partially understand but know beyond any doubt that God is confronting me with…I don’t even know that my assessment is right, it is just where I am at right now in the process…there may be an addendum later…anywho, here ya go…you asked for it…HA!

I’m pretty deep in thought today after a challenging (in a good way) weekend…I’m contemplating the impact of experience and how it relates to our futures and ultimately our destinies.

Over the years I have experienced many frustrations and let downs in the “leadership” department. Please don’t misunderstand, I have also had some wonderful leaders who cared for me and were there to assist me in my growth and advancement, BUT I’ve had some wounds that have also run pretty deep by people who intentionally misused their authority and ultimately my willingness to submit to authority and loyalty.

Although, I have learned amazing lessons on who NOT TO BE from these leaders, I have recently been pondering the thoughts of how much time and energy was wasted serving faithfully under seemingly uncaring, arrogant, self-serving people…YEARS of time that I can’t get back and have, at times, seriously regretted investing…

When you look back on how you allowed yourself to be treated, it’s easy to be frustrated with yourself for “allowing such disrespect” to take place, even being angry as a result of pondering the memories…

Then this weekend I had a chance to sit down with a few close friends and mentors and one of their friends who I have come to also greatly respect having read some of his writings in years past and heard him speak on several occasions….and as I sat and listened to them share their experiences during times that they served someone else’s vision, I began to recognize how their experience paralleled those situations in my own life that I had such frustration, irritation and anger concerning…but their attitude and demeanor in their conversation was not one of regret, frustration or anger (like mine) but almost a nonchalant disregard for the disrespect that they had experienced as they laughed about it and told stories that were even worse than much of what I had experienced in my opinion, they had even been treated terribly while serving under anothers ministry and yet, no bitterness or malice in their voices…I was actually astounded at how atypical what I was experiencing was for human behavior.

Normally, in a situation like that, I would keep my mouth shut and just listen for the most part but I found myself needing answers for what was being modeled before me but was not computing logically…You see, these men are living lives now, similar to what I envision for my own destiny and now I’m hearing that their own experience was extremely similar to where I have been.

Up to this point, I thought that I had gotten the metaphorical “shaft” and now was hearing that my experience is not only NOT ORIGINAL but logical analysis would deduct that it was maybe even intentional…Not an example of God taking a “bad situation” and working everything together for my good but actually requiring that exact type of experience in order to prepare me for where I was going…as I processed these thoughts at lightening speed in my mind, my perception began changing to perceive that perhaps those called to similar elections in life may have to travel for a season down extremely similar roads. I had been so loyal and so faithfully served for so many years and figured that I just drew a bad card in the game of life and service but now it looked to me like more than that…BUT these guys had a different attitude about their experience than I did and I had to find out why…So I asked…

My first question was, “Do you still talk to this person who wronged you”…I had to know if this perceived nonchalant attitude was a front and I knew that this question would give me insight into where they stood with their experience….His answer was, “Yeah, I call him a couple of times a year and we catch up”. I was pretty impressed because this guy had every right to look back on this relationship as an “already invested enough” experience (in my opinion) and yet he was taking the time years later to continue to cultivate the relationship by calling…

I asked him how he was able to navigate that season and in hind sight if he would do things the same and he made a statement that floored me, he looked at me very intently and stated, “If he (his mentor) called me right now and asked me to come downtown and shine his shoes I would ask you for a ride down there and I would shine his shoes for him”…

I believe that my friend recognized the confusion in my eyes and made the statement, I don’t believe that you choose your spiritual fathers any more than you do your physical ones…and the bible says, Honor your Mother and Father, and that’s why he would still feel that way…

This man went on to say, I don’t look on those situations negatively, it is those circumstances that have made me into who I am today…and there is as much or more to be learned of what NOT to do and how NOT to treat people as there is in “How to properly do those things”…(which ironically is a statement I have found solace in for many years when reflecting on my own circumstances).

My friend made a comment to the effect, “circumstances like that strip you of all pride”…

I’ve really been struggling with the implications of that statement for my own life. I came out of my own experience very wounded and very bitter. I have worked through the bitterness and am not bitter anymore, I believe that God actually healed me of that. However, the scars remain. I don’t often think about those times and when I do reflect on them I don’t have many fond memories nor do I nonchalantly speak of the mistreatment that I experienced. I don’t dwell on it, I don’t begrudge it, honestly, I just pretty much avoid the topic and treat it as water under the bridge…I love the ones who hurt me and if they called me tonight and needed my help, I’d be there to help them if I could…But I’m not to the place where, if they called, I’d drop what I was doing to shine their shoes…Perhaps that is because the relationship paradigm is different with me than with their mentors, perhaps it has to do with pride in me…I don’t really know…these are the issues that I have been pondering.

When people are hurt, there is often a wall that goes up that guards them from experiencing that type of hurt again…For example, all my life I’ve attempted to be the “friend” that I would want to have and I have served those in leadership over me with the loyalty and respect that I would hope would be reciprocated if I were in their shoes…However, I have not been so fortunate thus far…I have had amazing mentors, but peer level and subordinate relationships have really been lacking in the integrity department…don’t get me wrong I have had a few friendships that are amazing, (I could count them on one hand probably) but they are the exception and not the rule…

My Pastor made a statement once that really stood out to me about life and many of my relationship experiences, he said, “One act of disrespect can reveal more of a persons character than years of friendship”. That particular statement resounds with me having OVER AND OVER again dealt with friendships who notoriously, did not seemingly place the value on friendship that I did…I’m the guy that will call you if I’m running 2 minutes late, but I can’t even begin to count the friends who would make plans with me and then not even show up. One of my friends called my wife and had her plan to throw me a surprise birthday party, promising that he would be there to help her set up several hours early…He showed up to the party 3 hours late, stayed for 5 minutes and then left…I would tell other friends I was on a strict schedule and would cut time out of it to spend an hour with them for lunch and then they would show up 45 minutes late if at all. I’ve gone out and spent money preparing for company who said they’d be there at a certain time and they never show…I’ve had the friends who would say, I’ll pick you up at noon and at 2 or 3 o’clock call with a “sorry man, I got sidetracked” … I place a very high value on time and this repetition over the span of my lifetime has become a revealer of character for me when choosing who I will spend my time with. Now, if my friend does not value my time enough to respect it, then I will not prioritize time with them. This is a result of those “walls” I was referring to. I believe in many cases that these types of “wall” responses are wise, and I certainly believe that we should have a high standard for those whom we spend a LOT of time with because those types of relationships can influence us both positively and negatively depending upon the relationship…BUT if we are not careful, we will throw the baby out with the bath water because of a “wall” that we have put up to protect ourselves from experiencing the “hurt” again…

I know in my own life, I have made the comment, “I would NEVER allow someone to treat me like that again” or “If that guy talked to me that way, he’d be able to floss between his missing teeth with the top rung of my boot lace”…It’s a type of “self preservation” statement but at the root of it, I think there is pride…it may not always be the case in every scenario but I think in my own life, my unwillingness to put up with bull-crap has been because I determined that I would not allow myself to be taken advantage of again…and the root of that determination comes from the fact that I CAN’T STAND and am even embarrassed that I allowed it the first time…so, I think, at least with me, it’s an issue of pride…my pride was hurt that it happened before and so I’ve set up safe guards to prevent it from happening again…please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that we should never do these things, I am only evaluating my own experience and occasional motives for how I’ve handled situations, and I know, in my case, pride was a catalyst or at least an aspect of it…After speaking with this man this past weekend, I’m realizing that there is a place where you can be where you do whatever it is that you do in service to God and even when you are mistreated and wronged, you can just roll with it…

Have you ever seen strength in someone else that you knew was possible for you and was something that motivated you to stretch to be better than who you were yesterday… That’s kinda where I’m at today…I’ve felt like the past 4 years have been such an intense pruning time for me that if anything else was pruned you be cutting roots but in this recent conversation, I’m seeing there is more that can be…no, that NEEDS TO BE cut out in my letting go of pride…this is a big deal to me because pride has been a major area of contention for me and in many respects the catalyst for most problems I’ve had to deal with over the past several years…

I’m not one who is easily offended, nor am I one who wears my emotions on my sleeves and in most instances, I can just let stuff roll off like water on a ducks back, but there is a area that provokes me when it is touched in the arena of “respect” and although that standard that I have in that arena is fine for me to place upon myself, I need to reach a place where, when it is not reciprocated, it is not a situation where my pride is hurt or where I feel combative…I should be able to nonchalantly handle it…not that I should continually place myself in the situation where I am disrespected (unless it’s in a place of service where I know God is requiring that of me), but I should not become emotionally involved in how I deal with it…

If you can look at every deed as a seed, the paradigm changes doesn’t it?

Hmmm…I’ve read this 3 times now and still find myself recognizing more than I did the previous time…

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

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