Sometimes reality hurts. Over the last few months my heart has been so heavy. I cry and wait. I silently hope, too afraid that if I whisper those pieces of hope to anyone, I’ll feel crushed by their responses. Because that happens. And my hope is really just pieces. So I hoard them inside, alone, where they are safe from anymore blows and hits. Too afraid that in the name of being “real” and “honest” someone might injure the most beautiful, vulnerable parts of who I am. And I don’t have a lot left to risk it with.
You hear with your ears, but you don’t really listen. -Isaiah 42:30
Too often I’ve been quick to offer my opinions and thoughts without first hearing and really listening to what is being said. I spent much of my life and ministry this way. It’s actually a way I believe God created me to be-an evaluating, organizer, and strategist, someone with much insight in schematics and planning. But like all good, created gifts, they can yield great growth and great injuries. I’ve hurt others in the name of “honesty“. I’ve wounded people I love greatly by not being wise when I was being “real” with them. I, too, have to work at listening, at seeing what is there but isn’t clear, in the heart and words of others.
This is why I speak to them in parables, for they look but they do not really see. They hear but they do not really listen or understand. -Matthew 13:13
Spiritual leadership requires the ability to guide and equip others and be with them as they discover what their gifts, roles, and direction in the church & world are. It is a skill that everyone, and specifically leaders, need-to listen to what is unsaid, to see what isn’t clear, to understand what is really being said that words are not quite conveying. It is the job of leaders to give words to things that those in their charge yet to have words for and to guide them to places of self discovery with the Lord. Those places can be beautiful, healthy, edifying. They can be places that unite hearts and create lasting relationships where we really change from “church friends” to family, from acquaintance to sisters. They are also places of complete vulnerability. These precious and fragile conversations belong among people who love one another, who’ve earned the right to be heard, who can look each other in the eye and listen with grace and humility.
Not one heartache on earth will be solved with more judgement. This world needs more love. It is what saved us and still sets us free. It is the magic balm that soothes tensions, crosses divides, and creates safe spaces. Love is the only answer. May we become beacons of it, Church. -Jen Hatmaker
As this painful season of life continues, I have found some hope in El Roi, the God who sees. Because sometimes it feels like no one sees. Sometimes life can feel awfully small and painfully lonely. Sometimes the injuries are done in the name of being “real and honest”. But God does see and he deals gently with me. He sees my attempts for what they are, beautiful and broken, and does not expect or need perfection or pristine mannerisms. El Roi creates a safe place to hope, even on the weeks and seasons where the church and world feel unsafe to look at my most vulnerable places and digest my most fragile hopes. Because God is yet creating in me the makings of a love that sets people free to be who He’s created them to be.