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Being Present in Mending White Fences

May 7, 2013

And so continues the inconsistency.  At least maybe I’m consistent in my inconsistencies.

I’ve spent a better part of the week listening to the song ‘White Fences’ by Needtobreathe.  At first I could only understand some of the words.  I finally looked up the lyrics and started singing along with the song, and realized how much depth it has.  I think what initially draws me to songs are their rhythmic and musical quality.  Usually only after that do I investigate lyrics.  This isn’t always the case, but often. With ‘White Fences,’ I kept trying to figure out what the fence was.  I kept picturing a fence in a field or on a farm.   I couldn’t grasp that the song is talking about how easily ‘white fences’ can break.  The repeated chorus goes, ‘But who is gonna mend/These white fences.’  I finally decided it wasn’t a literal fence.  It was figurative.  (Yes, I was an English Major in college).  And that’s when my own visions for my life came flooding to the surface and I realized how much this song seems to fit where my heart is right now.

I’ve spent a better part of the week being angry with myself for making stupid decisions.  I couldn’t understand why I had made certain choices recently, mostly in specific relationships.  I talked to a close friend who pointed me to the root of the problem, and I started to see how deep the problem goes. // What initially draws me to people is how much life I see in them and how they live the joy (or sometimes lack thereof) that’s in their hearts.  It takes time to see how someone lives what’s written on their heart.  At least that’s been the case for me. // I’ve gone over in my head a hundred times what words have been said and what emotions were exchanged. I keep staring at all of what’s in front of me.  It’s only now occurring to me that it isn’t at all the words or emotions, it’s the heart of everything, which for me has been fear.  Fear is keeping me from being free.

Back in February when I heard Tullian Tchividjian speak at Jubilee (which I blogged about a little while ago), I thought I understood what he meant by living a life where we’d already been accepted, but in reality, I’m still searching for that.  Every day.  It feels like a fight to mend the white fences myself and make new ones.  It’s tiring.

I’m tired.  I’m tired of saying and doing the right thing, but not feeling it.  If I’ve learned anything in my 24 years, it’s that you can’t change someone.  I only have control over what I do and what I say.  I think that’s been the hardest thing I’ve learned.  I think half of what I was taught growing up was that I could have control over things – and even people.  That’s really not the case.  Living life is living without control over most things.

If I’ve learned anything this past year, I’ve learned that you can’t change people. That might sound obvious, but I think that we cleverly mask our intentions with people, even to ourselves. I think we often evade our real intentions with people. I’d like to think that my intentions with people are always good and pure, but ultimately that’s not always the case. On this side of things (heaven … or wherever/whatever you think the opposite of this crazy life is), relationships will always be broken. Any kind of relationship: friendship, marriage, dating, etc. Broken people mean broken relationships. That’s not to say that you can’t have good relationships, it’s just to say that at some point, you’ll realize it; whether it’s when someone breaks your trust, or lies, or hurts you in some other way. (The only exception to this is my dad …)

For those of you who know me, in any capacity, you know that I’m a relational person for the most part. (Catch me before 8am and that’s a different story). I hope I’m the first to admit that I can be horrible at some relationships though. I think one thing that I find impossible to accept in people is an unwillingness (on their part) to either see things from another angle, or just be egotistical enough to think they’re always right and they can never learn anything. Unteachability. Doesn’t make sense to me. Everyone can learn something from someone or something else.

I’m finishing reading a book called “The Emotionally Healthy Church.” I thought it would be more about ‘the church,’ but it’s really all about people (which coincides with the more recent movements to make sure people know that the church isn’t a ‘building,’ it’s the people. The book focuses on how God’s people interact with each other, and why things are ultimately so jacked up. And not just why they’re jacked up, but how we can approach people better, when we know that. I know in relation to my own heart, the book has made a lot of sense, and if people approached me in the way the author describes in the book, I’d be way more at ease than I have been. I think to an extent I would still long for something it can’t have fulfilled by earthly relationships, but could ultimately be more satisfied with where I stand with people.

Somehow in my own hurt and pain I think I’ve sought to help and fix others as a way to cope with my own issues. Sort of backwards, huh?

In one of the chapters of “The Emotionally Healthy Church,” the author talks extensively about boundaries and how they should be applied to our lives. Even in a secular context, this makes sense. He says: “We have a right to be different, a right to be taken seriously, a right to be heard, and a right to disagree.” Even if you’re dealing with the craziest person, I think this still applies. In my own life, I feel like I’m recognizing that most of the conflict that I’ve had with people has come from one of these aspects not being present in an interaction.

Being present is hard.  Learning how to sit with someone in pain is hard. Learning how to be lonely is hard.

But I think being present in pain and loneliness is what defines us.

I’ll leave you with a picture from the Rappahannock River from this weekend …

I love where I live and I love who lives my life with me. 

Rappahannock River

Rappahannock River

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One Comment leave one →
  1. ShineOnShineOn permalink
    May 20, 2013 11:25 pm

    Such a beautiful post. I too have been dealing with the idea of running from fear. For me, it is a fear that my past choices, thought now forgiven, will somehow manage to creep back in and haunt me. Jesus is my light, and I thank Him often for helping me along in life.

    I’ve been writing about my journey on my blog too- Maybe you’ll check it out and be encouraged? Be Blessed 🙂

    -Julia

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