Safe Places and Risky Questions

We’re taking a few days of vacation this week! Since there are so many new readers to the blog, I didn’t think you’d mind a repost from a couple years ago.

“So how and what are YOU doing these days?”  A seemingly simple and innocent question from a friend I hadn’t seen in a few months.

I want to yell, “DOING???  What am I DOING??   I’m Road Runner running straight off the cliff and not realizing it!  I’m Charlie Brown constantly falling flat trying to kick the football!   I’m like the psycho squirrels in my back yard, frantically spinning around, more than a little confused about which way is up!”

Fortunately I catch myself, realizing this might not be an appropriate answer, especially since we’re in the middle of a crowded Starbucks and I’d probably start crying and that would be ugly.

Instead I smile and answer confidently, “Oh everything’s good!  I’m doing a lot of little things, resourcing some organizations here and there… praying about some different options.” Which is true as far as it goes, but certainly gives a different impression than my first answer!

Have you ever felt like everyone else has their life together with a master plan complete with long and short range goals and is right on track doing meaningful work on the highway to success?

I was thinking about this as I rode through my neighborhood the other day.  I love my neighborhood.  It’s kind of a cross between Mayberry and Stars Hollow.

Most mornings before 7, I either walk (when the snow is blowing), or ride my bike down Glenhurst, over to Huntington, right on 38th, left on Joppa to 39th to Raleigh to Starbucks where Cory starts my drink before I’m in the door.

I ride past Stanley the dog (named after the Hockey cup), who is always sitting outside keeping watch over his corner of the world, past

neighbors sitting on their front porch with coffee, the house with the picket fence , the one with the window boxes that will soon be heaped with pumpkins and gourds as the season changes…

If I ride through my neighborhood in the humid summer evenings I hear dads mowing lawns, kids out playing on a slip and slide, parents on Adirondack chairs chatting over the squeals of their kids.  As dusk falls I love the smell of hamburgers on the grill, and seeing into a lighted house where a young girl practices piano in a bay window.

As I rode I felt like God was prompting me to pay attention and ask, “How much is my neighborhood like me?”  Like you?

What’s going on behind the Capra-esque façade?

Is it as good as it looks or is there loneliness, and despair lurking? Are there people just waiting for someone to ask “How are you doing, really?

Recently I had to write a profile describing who I am and what I do for a class I’m involved in.  As I read over it, it was like my neighborhood. Everything I wrote was true (like the answer I gave my friend in Starbucks), but it gave a picture of a totally together woman with an idyllic life and that is so not true of me!  It didn’t reflect any of the brokenness, or insecurity or pain that I wrestle with sometimes.

Now here’s the thing…I was writing this for a small group of 5 who are in ministry.  This was a safe and appropriate place to share a little more deeply and authentically.  If I had, would the others have breathed a deep sigh of relief and jumped into a more meaningful life-giving dialog?

Do you ever feel like everyone else has it all together?                                                

Are there places you honestly share who you are or are you always in “image management” mode?  I’m so grateful for the community God has given me, but even more I’m grateful that anytime, anywhere, He is a safe place where I can come with anything…and all of me.

Do you have a friend that you might call today and ask, “How are you doing? Really?”

I'd love to hear from you and others will be enriched by your thoughts! Share here and continue the conversation.

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