Thursday, February 24, 2011

Who's Got Your Back?

I really had the best of intentions - a lesson about everyone in life having something missing.  I had been reflecting on my teaching assignment for our Teen Ministry and had a relatively rare set of nerves about talking to this audience.  I had come to believe that it mattered to me so much, that there were butterflies in my stomach for several days.  This seems nuts to me.

As a trainer, facilitator and speaker - this is what I do.  I teach lessons all the time, and given that I did indeed prepare the lesson in advance, I couldn't understand why my stomach did turns.  Fast forward, I have their attention, we are in an active dialogue, I'm elated that they are talking about the characteristics that define relationship and then I decide... it is time for the illustration.  I'm leading up to the most important relationship in our lives... the one with God.  At least that is what I thought.

With a bakers dozen of mixed up bagels and cream cheese one unseasoned teen teacher heads down what was a very clear pathway in my mind.  "We are all born with something missing.  No matter what we try to do to fill the hole, we will always have that something missing.  We tend to fill that hole with stuff - hobbies, activities, a need for attention, material things, music, overcompensation, people.  We fill the hole with people, often broken people just like us.  We keep putting the wrong things in the hole and it never gets filled up."  I just kept going.  

The facial expressions went from interested and engaged to "um, is she going to say that one more time?" And yes, for effect, I did indeed keep asking about that empty hole being filled in. Let's just say...I am working to readjust my memory of the lesson and combine pre and post bagel teaching, forever erasing the bagel illustration.  In fact, I'm hoping my confidence and dignity return any day now.

But....I'm not a teen.  As I write, I am drifting back to that lesson of, "Who's Got Your  Back?" As I taught about the importance of relationships and the characteristics that signify a true, good, beneficial relationship, I was reminded that teens aren't the only ones who need to be reminded about choices.  We can fill the empty places with many things, but I believe God is the only one that can make us whole.  With that being said, isolation does not build up, it only tears down.  I believe we work out our salvation in fellowship with other people.

Fast forward to today and the importance of relationships was all around me.  Who do you call when things aren't going well? Who do you call when its time to celebrate? Who do you look forward to spending your special days with? Who seeks out the opportunity to spend time with you? What relationships are you building? What opportunities exist to sow into the lives of others? When is too much too much? Are we clear about who has our back?

Four decades of life, you must know who has your back.  I'm a creature of habit and patterns, a planner, prone to do things in a relatively consistent manner.  I also recognize that my love language is some odd combination of acts of service, quality time and words of affirmation... in that order with a rare gift at times to linger in my mind for months after it has been given.  Yet, for those that have my back, acts of service and quality time are a no brainer - it is a requirement.  I was teaching a lesson that the kids needed to hear, but I could have been teaching to a room full of adults.  We tend to try to fill in spaces with stuff that doesn't quite get it, then we match ourselves up with something that looks or seems good, but doesn't quite result in success.  We are seekers of becoming whole.

In a classic Huxtable moment, Claire (one of my favorite iconic moms) runs after Rudy with a sandwich that she had made for her lunch.  Mom encounters a child who openly admits, "Peanut butter and tuna sounded really good, but once I put it together it just didn't look good enough to eat."  She looked at it and decided to leave it.  A seven  year old demonstrated something very valuable - you don't carry the mess you made with you once you realize it is simply a mess.

We spend a lifetime putting things together that might have seemed or sounded really good, when in actuality they don't go together at all.  When we seek to understand, examine or expand who's got our back, time and investment is required.  GIGO.  You can dress it up, fill in the gaps, make it look good - but nothing tastes as good as being fulfilled feels.  That fulfillment can't come from folks, friends, sistergirls or besties....but when you have the right ones by your side, they assuredly make the journey better.

Bad illustration for teens, maybe.  For me, a good reminder to pick carefully and keep those priorities in order along the way.  Who's got your back at one stage of life doesn't make it a permanent fit.  God is an awesome, full-time, available and unchanging God.  He also gives us some wonderful people for our journey.   Who's Got Your Back?  You ought to know.

Trusting unfaithful people when you are in trouble is like eating with a broken tooth or walking with a crippled foot.  Proverbs 25:19  I tell you, I have been on a writing hiatus.  Based on this scripture, I need not be on a reading hiatus.... rich, rich word indeed.