I’ve been mulling this over for quite some time, so I apologize if it doesn’t come out right or make sense. Frankly, I’m not sure if it make sense in my own head and it may only make sense to a few folks. So, if it doesn’t make sense to you, I’m really sorry that I may have wasted your time.

I struggle with relationships with others. I feel like it’s been a struggle for a good portion of my life. Not that I’m socially awkward, but when it comes to deep, meaningful, authentic relationships it’s been a struggle.

Before Tullie and Eli were born, I think that I was content to be where I was. I had friends. We talked. We hung out and brought each other meals for the birth of our babies, but I think I was missing some real authenticity in my relationships. Life is was good. Some financial harship, but nothing really tragic. Typical stuff.

After Tullie was born, something in me started to churn. I felt like we were dealing with something really HUGE, and we were, but I felt like some relationships were beginning to fall apart. I think though, that a lot of it had to do with me. I glossed over a lot of my feelings regarding Tullie. I wasn’t honest that I wasn’t really happy with her diagnosis and I became a lot more factual then usual. Relaying information to friends would be emotionless. Like this: Friend: “How’s Tullie doing?” Me: “Ok. Her oxygen was turned up last week at her last appointment.” Friend: “Oh, I’m sorry. “Why?” Me: “Oh, she was retaining to much carbon dioxide, but the oxygen is helping. She may be off of it next month.” Friend: “Well, I hope that she is. I’ll be praying.” Me: “Thanks.” Really emotional, huh?

I honestly did not know how to respond. Tullie’s diagnosis was such a BIG deal and I didn’t want others to pity us, but I had no idea how to suffer through this. It wasn’t something temporary. This would stick around forever. People wanted to know how I really felt, and frankly, I didn’t want to tell them. Because if I did, my real and ugly heart would be revealed. I knew all the Christian tag lines to keep folks happy.

By the time Eli was born and passed away, I think I had just built a nice brick house around myself. I didn’t feel like I had a lot of people to really talk to and the few people I did, I think that my grief was really burdensome. I started to pull myself away from just about everyone. The only person I talked to was Mike. I figured, that he was the only one who “got it”, so I’d just stick with him. However, by doing that I wrecked some relationships that I did have.

I really struggled with Galatians 6:3, “Bear one another burdens or so fulfill the law of Christ.” Seriously, what in the hell did that really mean? Did we even get that idea as Christians? I was in the middle of grief, barely keeping it together, and everyone around me, seemed to be doing just fine. I felt lonely and isolated. And I realized that I didn’t know how to serve others. I really didn’t. I would serve folks in the past with meals, but really serve folks in the grief and suffering. I had no idea what to do. How to relate to those who were suffering. That was until I was in the midst of my own…

During the last five years, I’ve learned something. I’ve learned that I need authentic relationships. But I’ve also learned that that is really one of the hardest things in the world to maintain. I’ve found that it’s really hard for me to have superficial relationships. I give up early. I have a hard time getting through the, Where-are-you-from’s, I like to jump right in, “So, what has Jesus brought you through?”

In this, though, I struggle. I struggle with my pride. My pride in my pain. Thinking that somehow my pain in inferior to others. When really it’s not. Pain is pain. What our pain is in our life is going to be different. But pain is pain. We’ll all just feel it differently. And, by golly, we will feel it! We will not escape this earth without pain. But in that, how do I have authentic relationships and the patience for those relationships that may be viewed as superficial? It’s hard and I struggle. I struggle with inpatience and with my pride.

A friend convicted me today. A lot has changed, but she convicted me today and showed me that I’m still prideful and locked up in my brick house. Well, that’s not really good is it?

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Debbie

    Well, no that’s not really good. lol. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s a problem that just you struggle with, I think it is a Christian – no a societal problem. In the world we live very few have authentic relationships. Blame it on technology, or busyness, or whatever; it is what it is. However, it is not what God wants for us. And it is hard! I struggle with it too!

    When I went through my divorce suddenly people (even those I had known and served in the church with for many years) didn’t know what to say to me. I remember one dear woman walked by me on Sunday am and said “hi, how are you?” (still walking), I said “not great”, her reply “oh that’s good” and kept on walking. She wasn’t even listening. I guess I failed to give the canned answer. ha. I had only one woman from church who stuck with me through the awful days of my divorce. She called me, sent me notes, took me out, left silly things on my doorstep. I’ll never forget it! Needless to say we are still friends and I can say anything to her but I don’t see her all that often.

    I think it’s really risky to be authentic! We risk rejection, being hurt, being misunderstood etc.. It’s hard! But the risk in not being authentic is feeling alone/lonely. That’s where I’m at most of the time – stuck between a proverbial rock and a hard place. I do think that we can’t go around wearing our emotions on our sleeves all the time but we do need to work on finding one or two people with whom we can be very real. I think one of the hardest things is that two seemingly opposite things can both be true at the same time – we can believe God’s Word AND feel like crap or have our emotions running wild. A lot of people can’t handle that, they think that if your feelings are extreme then you must have lost faith in God. From my experience that is just not true. I need someone that can affirm my emotions and then remind me of the Truth. It’s not an either/or situation. Just read the Psalms and you will see David’s raw emotions and his faith in God! That’s what I go back to – if God can handle David’s emotions and still love him, then He can certainly handle mine! So I’m working on being authentic with God and myself, if I can do that then I really have nothing to loose in being authentic with a friend or two. (wow, that’s a good one Deb!)

    I love you Michelle and I love your blogging. Keep it up!

  2. Debbie

    “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” ~Psalm 61:2 NKJV

  3. Dawn

    Hi Michelle,
    I noticed when you sent me an e-mail today that you have a blog. I was deeply moved by your beautifully raw and honest style of writing. I can relate to what you’re saying here. You’re right, authentic relationships are incredibly hard to maintain. This is something I’m working through as well. Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Jen Smidt

    Acknowledging your struggle and letting God shine His light on this darkness is proof that the brick house is crumbling under the weight of the glory of God’s love and redemption. Keep walking the road Michelle – it is beautiful!!

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Relationships and Pain