Friday, November 2, 2007

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times....

The best thing about blogs is that they connect people. The worst thing about blogs is that they disconnect people.

Huh?!?

Well, the great thing about blogs is that you have the wonderful opportunity to meet and converse with people whom you would never have the opportunity to hang with IRL (or, in real life, as I've recently learned). You come together because of any number of commonalities. I visit blogs of brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I am trying to share "the adventure that Aslan sends," as it were. Our main commonality is devotion to Christ as Lord and a desire to love God and love others--living the Jesus Creed, as Scot McKnight would say. (BTW, I get my connection to the wilder world through my amazing brother, Matt Stone...thanks, Matt!)

And this is a really, really great thing that blogs do. Really great!

The challenge, as always, is the loving of others who are, well, other. As in, not like me. In my case that would be the vast majority of people I meet IRL, much less on the Net....

So, the worst thing about blogs is how easy it is to disconnect when the "honeymoon" is over. When the struggle to stay connected begins to make your stomach churn as your "otherness" really starts showing. You face the moment of truth when you wonder whether your blog buddies will ditch you when they get to know the real you.

Sigh...and we thought this was over after getting through middle school...or high school...or after we got married...or after the kids are in school all day, or with your new small group or church or pastor. Whatever....you fill in the blank__________________.

Nope. None of the challenges of risky relational transparency are ever over...as long as there are still people around. Last time I checked, that still applied to me. And so I am left with the same old dilemma: what am I going to do about it?

This is my starting list of things to do:
  • If I want to be heard, I'm going to have to really learn the lessons about listening.
  • If I want to be understood, I'm going to have to do a better job of thinking about what I mean and saying it plainly and clearly--no jargon, no assumptions, no generalizations.
  • If I want to be part of the solution, I'm going to have to choose not to be part of the problem.
So, what is the problem?

In my book it's a failure to speak truth in love. Speaking my best understanding of what the truth of any given topic or situation is in a way that is respectful of the view of the other. Speaking in a tone that will allow others to hear me long enough to choose to really listen. Inviting feedback so that I can ensure that what I mean is what is being understood. Asking clarifying questions that show I really want to understand. Restraining myself from engaging in any and all forms of reactionary assumption or judgment or sterotyping...as well as sarcasm that targets a precious Eikon/bearer of the very image of God.

More lessons of the Purple Martyrdom, I guess...and a reminder from MO Blogger Andrew about the reality of owning the name The Ugly Blogger. I told him in Seabeck that I was struck by his chapter (with that very name) in the Wikiklesia Project's Volume One. It was a private moment for confession to him that I make public here: I, too, have been The Ugly Blogger. And Andrew, I'm hoping you will forgive me for the tinge of it that showed on your blog yesterday. I will learn this lesson in restraint...I will! Thank you for being a person of shalom.

But I choose to step away from those images. (You really do need to get this book and read it--lots of great insights from a wide variety of authors. Click on the Wikiklesia link in the sidebar.) I want all that I am and have and say and do to bring glory, not shame, to my Lord.

Now that I have my own blog, I need to say the things that define who I am and what I am about here in my space and in my time and according to my outline...and quit blog-clogging elsewhere. (Except, of course, at Alan's TFW blog...I am free to be me here and there!)

...so if you're interested in what The Abbess thinks and does, know that you are welcome to journey here in safety--well, the kind of safety that comes from speaking the truth in love, that is. Safe to listen and be listened to...to be and to allow...to learn and to teach.

But beware of Aslan...while not always "safe," he is always good. And the "Lucy" in me always wants to answer his call to follow--even if no one else can see or hear him.

Be blessed.

4 comments:

Elling said...

Loved this post, Peggy, although I read it more for my relationships IRL than in the blogosphere. As it still under a year since I moved to a new place, in another part of my country, I still struggle with how long time it takes to build really transparent relationship. And your post really encouraged me to not just wait for the others to invite me into relationships that are deeper and more transparent - but to take more action myself to build those relationships.

I think I would add too your list that if you want to be sharing more open in a relationship, you can't just wait for the others to start with it - perhaps you have to begin yourself.

a celtic son said...

Hullo-o-o venerable Abbess...

The question is was Dickens, in his beautiful paradox, a prophet of postmodernity; "...it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..." Such a powerful tale of the duality we find ourselves in...

It surely is a challenge to all of us, trying to live in an abode of transparency, when we're tempted to lob our opinions ungraciously at others - glass houses and throwing stones is never advisable and yet... I'm sure we've all been the ugly blogger at some time and there are surely lessons in restraint to be learned.

At the same time when we do authentically speak the truth in love, there are also challenges we need to bring to one another. In God's image we need to love one another enough to be accepting of all people, just as they are when they arrive, and love each other too much to allow any of us to continue to live in the continuing consequence of our own weakness. Transformative change requires the input of energy to overcome the latent inertia; do we love one another enough to invest the energy into one another's lives... for the sake of the other?

A couple of years ago a friend gently suggested that I was more inclined to be "nice" than I was to be "real." My friend gave me a book, it was a surprising choice - a business book, which initially I received ungraciously, assuming that business practice had no place in the church, which of course was a wrong assumption. When I finally opened the book it challenged a whole bunch of prior assumptions and I was presented with some insight into areas of my own weakness.

In a period of reflection on what the book and it's context might be saying to me personally, a major insight arose for me, which was that my failure to challenge people towards maturity was symptomatic of a lack of authentic love for them... ouch! I don't agree with all of the tenets of the book and some of it's principles are purely focussed on "success driven organisations," but I'm on a journey learning what to swallow and what to spit out.

Every authentic relationship carries with it the risk of loss. In one sense the underlying perspective of the potential loss, is a means of measuring the value of the relationship. The question is whether I am investing energy into what I claim are important relationships. Am I investing love, building a bridge that will carry the weight of the challenges that love inevitably calls us to bring...

Aslan is a powerful metaphor and it was that mention, the paradoxical thought of the good that is not simply safe, that brought aspects of that book back to my mind. The book was titled "Fierce Conversations.," and in the foreword Ken Blanchard gives his summation of the essence of the book -
"our lives succeed or fail gradually, then suddenly, one conversation at a time. While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a carreer, a business, a marriage, or a life, any single conversation can. The conversation is the relationship..."

So, despite our own instincts towards self-preservation, we surrender to a greater calling - one to die to self for a greater cause. I do so appreciate you and love your honesty, you wear your heart on your sleeve and your weakness on your wimple! Perhaps "vulnerable Abbess" would be a more pertinent moniker!

Slainte

A Celtic Son

Brad said...

peggy, i echo the appreciation of your transparency and "learnability." your starting list of three items reminds me of the prayer of st. francis. perhaps it is time that all we of the virtual abbey watch *brother sun, sister moon* again ...

AbiSomeone said...

Thank you, friends, for your words of encouragement!

Elling...I will share important words with you here that I heard when I first shared the truly God-sized vision for CovenantClusters: "Don't wait. Be patient." I have found that it applies to so many areas of our lives...and pray that God will bless you as you apply it in your new environment!

Beloved Celtic Son...I am pleased to hear of this book by Ken Blanchard--his "Situational Leadership" is an important work and he is a Christian brother! He has a newer one out called "The One Minute Apology" that is also powerful...probably part of the inspiration for this post. I will also be posting today the follow-up to this one...laying out a bit more of who I am and what I am about...as well as who I am not and what I am not about!

Brad...would you believe that I have never seen that movie? AAUGH! I may have to see if it is available anywhere on DVD....and it does remind me of the quote from St. Francis that precedes my chapter in "Voices of the Virtual World" that I posted over at The Abbey...which, I am sure, will make its way to this blog...hmmm...that gives me an idea ;^)

Be blessed, each of you!