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The landlord pruned the trees in my courtyard yesterday, including removal of an ailing Japanese maple I liked. I feel like I just got a really bad haircut.

While Christians are called to love and serve the world, I don't think that means we don't have needs for our own close relationships. Jesus Himself knew of and forgave Peter's betrayal, but that doesn't mean He took any crap from him—He didn't. So I'm not convinced it's selfish for closeness to have conditions. I'm not off the hook to love and serve even someone who stands on my last nerve, but I'm not required to put on a yoke of friendship if the other person isn't going to pull, too.

Real presence (not necessarily the physical kind) is something that's legitimate for me to desire. As my seminary professor said, "Don't give him absence." This desire must be tempered with an understanding of the ways we will constantly fail one another. The grace of Christ must inform and infuse my relationships. But if even that desire isn't evident, there's the very real possibility that we aren't headed in the same direction and shouldn't share a yoke. That's OK, and probably a far more grace-filled realization than simply continuing to try to relate in ways that lead to starvation from real presence. God Himself has declared that He wants me to live in His presence—it's a quality that's worth having in my close relationships as well.


I hate it when people cut down special trees. It's sad. :(
It wasn't going to survive, but it's still sad.
People need to read this. It needs to be in a book. Just saying.
I need to read it more often. I keep forgetting. Thank God I keep remembering.
I've been learning a lot since the spring about relationships... like all of a sudden I couldn't handle people in person- they were too much and took too much... much too painful to be present with them because they all seemed to be waiting to take me places I didn't want to go.
Now I'm realizing they've all gone somewhere and I am still here. Still alone.
Do I hold myself away from people because I know they will hurt me and I will hurt them? (I'm learning the answer is a unanimous "yes!") Without God's grace it is impossible for me to trust any of them. But little by little the Lord is prying me open to the people around me.
How can I have been so transparent all these years and never open? I was saying "this is what it looks like in there, but you can't come in". Now it seems no one is interested in the verbal tour. They want entrance.
And I can't fake that.

Lee, you often put words to what I'm trying to avoid :)
Wow, this nails a lot of what I tend to do. Even this entry is a good example. Thanks for letting God use you to nudge me.
I don't think we're supposed to let everyone in... Jesus didn't even do that.
But there must be some people, right?
Almost all of the people I was intimate friends with wound up dead or in rehab, changed forever for worse or for better. Dying on me seemed so rude at the time. Rehab, even ruder.

I love people, but I need solitude now and then. Think of this: I've known only a handful of people I always liked being around. Good thing we have a friend in Jesus.

People are all mostly sad. I wish I could make them happy, but when I can't think of anything, I'm lost with the friendship. Some needs aren't mine to meet.
Think of this: I've known only a handful of people I always liked being around. Good thing we have a friend in Jesus.

That's true of me—I'm finicky and fickle. But I don't always like being around myself, either, so I mostly don't hold it as a standard for friendship.

I love people, but I need solitude now and then.

I am El Solitario.
I'm not finicky or fickle, but a lot of people are hard to take all the time, or prevent me from doing things I need to do. Some people are so great that I hate to say good-bye to them. And I like it when people don't want to let me go, though some get carried away.

I get way more solitude than I want, but I need it to get work done. My personality type is pretty non-collaborative. But I like people most of the time. I like you cheer them up...or teach them useful stuff like how to find a parking space or the difference between 'less' and 'fewer.'

People are interesting and have a lot of great stories.

I sure know that you are El Solitario. How did that go, then? I never heard.
Yeah, that post you linked to was another of your great posts. I totally identified. Perhaps it does have something to do with being academically above average (and sucky at sport - the great social leveller)? Being different makes it harder to connect or something.

I don't feel absent to you although I may come across that way over the distance of an ocean and several time zones. In fact, your journal is the one I hear with most clarity because often it echoes (or puts more succintly and more clearly) my own thoughts.

However, LJ is where I feel the absence of others more and more sharply with each passing day. Don't know how much longer I can tolerate it.
Presence is so much trickier via the internet,a and I'll readily admit I'm pretty limited in that way. It's also a lower priority for me—while it's great when I can connect, most of my non-work internet use is at my convenience and farther down the ladder than my face-to-face relationships. It's a stewardship call, and one I wanted to make intentionally rather than just perpetually running around like a relational chicken.

That said, I'm glad my journal resonates for you sometimes. That's a blessing for me, too.