Dropdown menu

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The sticky mass in the middle

One of the personality traits I have that I've always been proud of is my loyalty. I'm a pretty loyal person. Once you're my friend, I stick by you through it all. Once you're my enemy, you're dead forever. But we're working on the enemy thing.

Over the past few days, I've become aware of a situation that will be testing my loyalties. Two parties, both of whom I've always been loyal to, are at war. And you know, I'm not sure what I'm going to do about it. Right now, I'm watching it continue to unfold, praying, carefully evaluating before making a decision. But ultimately, I'm going to have to make a choice.

As I sat, mulling over my choices, and thinking about the implications, I realized the real issue. For me, loyalty isn't just about being a good friend. It's not just about sticking to something I've started. No, the real issue is pride. If I'm disloyal, or if I change loyalties, it means I was wrong. Worse, it means I have to publicly admit to it. I've stayed on really bad courses for a long time, calling it loyalty, but the truth is, I didn't want to have to admit I'd made a bad choice. So I lived with a lot of negativity until my life was so miserable, I had to get out.

The last time I did that, about four years ago, I thought I'd learned my lesson. Don't stay on a sinking ship just because you were told the Titanic was unsinkable. But here I am, loyalties torn, and when I get to the guts of it, I'm not asking which is the best course, but which one means the least amount of crow eating. Oddly enough, the TV shows I've caught as I flipped through the channels to figure out how to work my FIL's DVD player all had "crow eating" as a theme. You think God was trying to tell me something?

With yet another sinking ship, I look back and see all that was wasted with my loyalty. So many of my decisions had been based on maintaining loyalty. And yet, had I not made the commitment to remain loyal, the decision would have been different. I chose wrong. Oddly enough, we're having a discussion about second chances and "do overs" on eHarlequin. So I've been asking myself as I weigh the decisions we'll eventually have to make... if I had to do it over, would I change my decision?

And that's a hard, complicated mass to unravel. It's easy to say, "no, because I learned so much from it." But the truth is... I don't know. I feel cheated. I made sacrifices I shouldn't have had to have made. I didn't pursue some important goals and dreams the way I should have. I gave up a lot to get...


As I look at this tangled mass, I realize that there is still the sticky mass in the middle. The thing I don't often face, yet is always there. The pride. I never wanted to admit that maybe, my decision was wrong. Which meant pursuing the wrong path led to even more wrong decisions.

In avoidance of looking at that dark mass, I caught up on email, and found myself deleting by name on some loops I'm on. Not a bad thing, because I honestly don't have time to read 200+ emails a day. What shamed me though, and where God wasn't going to give me a respite from my self examination, was WHY I'd deleted some of the names. One name is the name of a girl a friend of mine doesn't particularly get along with. I don't know her, have never met her, and yet, I completely obliterated her from my presence simply because a friend of mine doesn't like her. Misplaced loyalty to be sure. The saddest truth is that I do it all the time. I dismiss people for really dumb reasons. People who could have been a special part of my life. Or not. But I'll never know, will I?

I talked the other day about my enemy turned friend. You want to know the real reason she was my enemy? Misplaced loyalty. A friend had problems with her, so I had problems with her. And then it took forever for me to admit I'd been wrong. On a lot of levels.

It's so crazy... I've had this ministry in my heart for so long, and yet I've fought it because I've been terrified of being wrong. What if I hurt and mislead people? Even if my intentions are good, can I live with being wrong?

So here it is, all laid out for you to see. I share with you all my heart in hopes that it will encourage you on your journey. That somewhere in the mess of mistakes and small triumphs along the way, you'll find a nugget to cling to and and learn from. The reality of my life is that I am a complete and utter mess. For as much as I think I've figured out, I only realize how little I know. What I offer you is the very real possibility that I am completely wrong about everything I say. But I also offer the hope that if a crazy lady with a messed up life can reach out and touch the cloak of the One who can heal all, and slowly begin to unravel the darkness, allowing light to penetrate even the deepest crevices, you can too.

I'm not going to lie. The inner corridors of my heart are dark and ugly. Maybe yours aren't as bad as mine. Maybe yours are worse. But if we all hold hands and take the journey together, it's not nearly as scary.


Heather said...

Loyalty. It's a darned good trait. Biblical, I'd even say. Friend that sticks closer than a brother and the like.
So don't you hate it when you discover that one of those lovely traits actually has mixed motives? That it has something unpure about it?
Do I do anything that is purely good?

Anonymous said...

This is my first visit, and I find it lovely that the Lord led me here today. We had a similar conversation this morning concerning someone who has been a beloved friend for several years and now has moved in directions with which I do not agree. My prayer was simple: Lord, if I am so uncomfortable with this, why am I still hanging on?

My answer: I don't want to be considered a traitor or disloyal.

Whether the root be pride or insecurity or whatever, the insanity of it is obvious. And as I sat and let the Lord speak to my mind about the insane place I put my heart in such circumstances, I remembered a quote from Abraham Lincoln. Maybe it'll bless you, too. In any case, thanks for your honesty. You're not the only one wondering why we hold on to the messy mass in the middle, and you are not the only one avoiding ministry because you fear being wrong and messing up people's lives. I understand all too well.


"I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong." -- Abraham Lincoln

Jan Parrish said...


One of the things I’ve learned in counseling is that there are two sides to every conflict. In some cases they are ‘both right’ in that there has been a misunderstanding and the offended party lashes back so the war begins. Often, if the original misunderstanding can be reconciled, the conflict is over.

Loyalty is a wonderful trait to have in a friend. I speak from experience when I say; a real true friend can speak the truth, softly in love, when a friend is wrong. One of two things will happen in this scenario, you will lose a good friend, or you will become even closer.

Sometimes it’s best to remain neutral. Continue to pray; as will I, that God will give you wisdom, knowledge, and discernment in this situation.

Thanks for sharing from your heart. I think we’ve all been in your spot before.

BTW: you've been tagged. 10 things we'll never hear you say.

Heather Diane Tipton said...

Loyalty is a very good trait to have.

This was a really great post. Love it.