Second only to love, forgiveness is the most powerful force known to man.
Both for the forgiven and the forgiver.
Seems to me, if you want to know the real me, look me in the eye.
Want to hear my backstory…my eyes speak volumns.
Want to learn of my talents, skills, and abilities…they sparkle in my eyes.
Want to begin to understand my passions and calling…my eyes reflect the needs.
Want to unlock my motivations and drives…my eyes hold the key.
Want to embrace my fears and tears…begin in my eyes.
Want to experience my joys and exuberation…discover them in my eyes.
I believe that no “heart to heart” understanding will ever exist between two humans, especially those who may have diametrically opposing points of view, without beginning with eye-to-eye interaction. For, in some important ways, being eye to eye isn’t about agreeing, but simply learning.
First, it requires close physical proximity. No “virtual” connection behind which we can hide or remain anonymous, at least to some degree.
Second, it acknowledges that the other side of the interaction is actually a human being. Not a theory, not a belief, not a movement, not a sin. A living, breathing human being.
Third, if we are serious about true engagement and learning, then it will require that we exercise major discipline. The act of simply keeping our mouths from spouting off along with listening closely are major hurdles for many.
Fourth, it facilitates clarification. The back and forth of conversational flow happens best in this type of setting while looking in another’s eyes.
Most importantly, the eyes are the gatekeepers of the heart. In the deepest ways and on the most important issues of life, we don’t enter into one another’s hearts unless we first look into each other’s eyes.
I am a man…a husband…a father…a grandpa…a Christian…gay…in a mixed oriented marriage…chaste.
But as complicated as all that is, there is much more to me. But, you will never know unless we get…
Eye to eye.
Words that have the potential to radically change someone’s life –
“I am for you. We’re not meant to live this life alone.”
Will you you speak them?
We are inextricably linked.
Along with that awesome power comes tremendous accountability.
We influence. It humbles.
We impact. It motivates.
We inspire. It cautions.
We counsel. It instructs.
I am relatively new at blogging. For those who have been around awhile, this is old hat and really no big deal. But for me, it’s pretty amazing that –
* I have followers in 22 different countries of the world.
* That I can connect with people from such a wide range of life experiences…gay, straight, architect, university professor, national weather service, Catholic, Protestant, poets, researchers, authors…to name a few.
* That among all my interactions, I’ve been able to share the pain of a blogging friend who recently lost his father to the insidious disease of cancer…to weep as I read his posts, and to pray for him and his family, and the great honor to encourage a college student who also struggles with mental health.
* That so many have shared very important life insights with me…that I’m learning from them.
* That I’m finding that I’m not alone in my journey.
My blog is an important way for me to process and work through issues in my life as a gay man but also the issues in the life lived by me and my wife in our mixed orientation marriage. It is also my hope that I will be able to share some wisdom and insight with those who interact with me just as I am learning from them.
But my links are not just my Life In Cocoon.
My links include my family. We laugh and love. We stress and cry. We enjoy and endure. We figure it out one day at a time just like you. We also celebrate new things. Just this week, I’ve initiated a new tradition. We always gather on Sunday evenings for a family meal with those who are still “at home” and those who are grown and gone. The new tradition is that everyone must bring an inexpensive food item which they have never had before and the entire family with try it together. Yesterday was the inaugural event. It was a rousing success. Strengthening the link.
My interaction with my faith community…both personal and virtual. Links.
My relationships with my employer and my employees. Links.
I’ve been to the dentist many times. Cleanings, fillings, root canal, extractions…many different procedures. Some have been quick, others have been so difficult and time-consuming that my jaws ached from holding my mouth open. Pain, pressure, sounds of the drill, scraping sounds, water…that’s all my perspective…the perspective of being the patient. I wonder what it would be like looking into and having my fingers in other people’s mouths all day long. I don’t get that, because it’s not my world. Not my perspective.
A little over seven years ago, I stood at the graveside of my dad and said my last goodbye. He had died unexpectantly in his sleep. And standing beside me at that final resting place was his spouse of 57 years – my mom. As broken as my heart was for losing my dad, in spite of how “real” that was for me, I have no idea what it is like to lose a spouse. I don’t get that, because it’s not my world. Not my perspective.
“I love black people, I have black friends.” I have come to believe that statement is either one of the silliest or most offensive types of things we can say. By saying that, we are communicating that we know and understand the culture of the group of people we are discussing. The proclamation is also used as a shield against charges of racism. My son-in-law is of another ethnicity. But just because I know and love him, does not mean that I understand his culture of heritage. It’s not my world. Not my perspective.
The same goes for:
* “I have gay friends…”
* “You need closure…”
* “Let me give you some advice…”
Context matters. It matters, not only from where we are coming from when we speak, but is matters just as much from where the listener is hearing it. If we aren’t careful, we will get tuned out and ignored. Our drive to be understood must be just as concerned about the context of the hearer as it is the context of the “truth” we are attempting to convey. Otherwise, what ultimately gets communicated may not be anything like what we are trying to say.
The problem lies in the fact that we like the sound of our own voice more than the other person’s.
This past weekend I was at an event that was deeply meaningful. Lots of awesome information was shared. And it meant something because of the context out of which the information was given. The speakers were sharing out of pain experienced, not situations learned about in a clinical classroom setting. By hearing their story and seeing their tears, I could sense their hearts.
When someone says that they are gay, instead of trying to convince them you know all about that (unless you are gay yourself), let them tell you about that. I assure you that it is much more complicated than having sex with another person of the same gender. That’s only one sphere of the universe in which they live. Let me tell you about being gay…about being a gay christian…about being in a mixed-orientated marriage…about being a dad and grandpa. Once you’ve taken all of that in, then we can begin to have real meaningful conversations about this journey I’m on.
I want to be known by a good friend. Without being heard, that will never happen.
Communication is complicated. Take it one word at a time.
Context is the trump card.
It’s a friendly place in the basement of an old building on a busy street. Sitting at the beautiful wooden bar is a smattering of people chatting and enjoying a cold one. The door opens and in steps a regular. Everyone looks in the direction of the opening door and says…
Recently, my wife enjoyed some meaningful conversation, laughter, and just good company of a very close friend. It was empowering and healing for her. As I was thinking about her evening of fun, my mind went to Cheers. The cast of characters that made that show funny will always remain memorable.
But more importantly to me, it was what happened in that place that really grabbed my attention.
Long before the days of social media, people spent time in personal presence with each other. As much as I enjoy my outlets and connections on electronic social avenues, what I really need and want is people who will invest time and their own personal space and let me in. I suspect that if we are all honest, that is what we all want and need. We need someone to share a cold one, or a cup of coffee, or a ride in the countryside, or an afternoon fishing together…someone who will give us them. Someone who will look us in the eye…hold our hand…put an arm around our shoulders…hug us tight…laugh and cry with us…just simply – and powerfully – be there. Someone who is not there to simply commiserate, but who lifts us up and speaks truth into our hearts and minds.
It is called community.
Not only is that what I want and need, it is what I must be for my friend.
So, you thirsty?