Wrestled with writing & posting this blog, but hey, what’s the use of have the InterWebs if we can’t put our thoughts & feelings on it with great trepidation & the possibility of being grossly misunderstood?
I was feeling pretty good this morning, & the air smelled so fresh, so clean from last nights rain that I was lured outside into the nearby park for a run. Wouldn’t say I’m a runner, but I have been known to get out & gingerly & slowly move my feet at a pace slightly beyond that of a walk. Or at least beyond the pace of my walk. It is < 70 degrees F here, so I wasn’t even worried about getting too warm… just wanted to sweat. I’ve been wrestling with a low-grade burn in my gut (not related to the gnocchi or sickness… just some frustration.)
The problem with running for me is that as soon as I start, something engages in my brain. The place where my filter/processor/muser/pontificator is located kicks into gear, & I’m hit with a barrage of thoughts, feelings, DVR-like replays of interactions I’ve had, & the like. And somehow, someway running makes me work through stuff in a way that nothing else does (I’ve tried the elliptical, but it takes all my concentration not to fall off the thing, so it’s not just exercising that does it. Nor walking. Just running.)
As I dodged dog mess, puddles the size of Washoe Lake, & dudes on bikes, a specific conversation replayed in my mind. Just recently, I had an interaction with a person who used to attend TPLF, Hillside’s main church contact in Germany until the last 2 years or so. Something came up that I hadn’t expected: the person questioned my integrity & made negative accusations about my relationship to TPLF, specifically relating to both former pastors of the church. This person was convinced that my support of the pastors was an attempt to manipulate the people in the church to a specific behavior & to advance the pastors’ (secret, sneaky, & controlling) agendas at the church’s expense. And that some of the things I had said in support of the church & the leadership were lies.
To say it made me angry would be an understatement… in the situation, I was able to stay composed (or at least my version of composed. I tried. Last thing that would have been good in that spot was to go Vesuvius. Looking back I bet my face was mad. Or I looked tired. Which is the same thing. But I digress.) The rest of the conversation was short & awkward. Didn’t try to defend myself, just said, “If that’s what you think about me, then I guess you don’t know me at all.”
My pace picked up. I FELT the anger rise up in me again. This time, however, I had the opportunity to muse, ponder, process the WHY behind this situation & WHY it bugged me so bad. This is where I usually call my friend Chuck, & he asks very pointed questions that help me to uncover what I’m dealing with, as well as hear God’s voice in the midst of it. However, Chuck is 6 hours behind me, EST, & I know he loves me, but he wouldn’t appreciate a 5 a.m. wake-up call. So I dug in on it myself.
Turns out, one of my personal core values is authenticity – & as a result, I don’t knowingly or intentionally play interpersonal games. I say what I mean. I don’t carry a secret, uncommunicated agenda that I attempt to advance at the expense of others. I don’t conspire, bait & switch, or attempt to control others. I tell the truth. I value my character, integrity, & what my wife & kids think of me.
And when THAT is called into question, it pisses me off. It strikes a nerve like nothing else does. And right now, in the aftermath of my workout, as I lay my head on the table, a sweat-drenched mess, I wonder… And I think back over past conversations, past conflicts, past situations where I’ve felt something similar… & the big ones, the ones that have been ugly & have left scars… & I see similarities. Without casting my own accusations or dispersions on others, I reflect on the fact that the worst conflicts I’ve experienced have always happened when my character/integrity/word is challenged. Because if I don’t have those things, I’ve got nothing, including no basis for a meaningful relationship. And if after interacting with me & hearing their questions answered, their assertions responded to, a person interprets what I’m saying/doing as an attempt to manipulate, control, harm, &/or lie, etc…, I guess we’re done.
Maybe I’m tired, & feeling a little dramatic. Maybe God’s trying to tell me something. Maybe I need to grow up, & develop a thicker skin. Not really sure.
I only know that I want to love God, love people & communicate as clearly, truthfully, & straightforwardly as I can. Not gonna blow smoke, use hyperbole, or attempt to manipulate.
Dr. Archibald Hart, a great Christian & a great man, once told me,
“75% of the problems people have with you Louie, as a pastor, will be related to their issues with other authority figures in their lives. Their parents. Bosses. Pastors. Leaders. You really cannot do anything about that. Focus on the 25% you DO have control over.”
I’m working on it Arch. I’m working on it.