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Pruning

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.

Comments

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.