Thursday, June 3, 2010

an evening with metal

you may or may not recall moments when i was on staff at shady grove church. during those moments i had the opportunity to develop friendships with a small population known only as the metal heads. the majority of their existence in 1829 was in the years we had our service in the old building. one or two of them kept coming around for a little while but slowly they drifted out of the wednesday night scene. why or why not is not the point of this entry and quite frankly we could debate all day on why people fall out of church or how to trick up programs to make them more enjoyable for numbers sake and longevity. i honestly, think about those guys every now and then and think about what seeds i sowed that are bearing fruit now. it is the whole shoulda coulda woulda syndrome. i think a lot of our connection stemmed from the fact that i, for a season, felt obligated to relate to a particular crowd in 1829 that i simply did not want to relate to. i didn't want to listen to rap to fit in, i didn't want to play basketball, i didn't want to make lame jokes to amuse them. kind of like throwing anything up in the air hoping it will stick and that nothing will fall back down for me to have to dodge. when this "metal head" crew showed up there was a connection that presented a legitimate challenge for me in my "talents." i welcomed it and can recall a few times getting burned out, not because of them but because of me and my over indulgence in duty. but thru it all i loved that crew because it represented a new chapter in 1829 that i didn't remember seeing before, at least before i was on staff. but with the closing of the era for the metal heads years ago i currently find my thoughts concerning them in a state similar to mr oscar shindler towards the end of the movie of shindlers list...i could have done more. so when i check my phone messages yesterday afternoon after work i wasn't expecting to hear one of them defeated, broken, and desperately seeking an ear to talk to. i ceased the moment and took advantage, only this time, i thought it wise to think about what things i didn't do with them years ago and what i could do now with this opportunity. i called him and told him i would come to his house pick him up and bring him back to my house. my intent was to allow him whatever he needed. this means if he wanted to talk, he could talk; if he didn't want to talk, we wouldn't; if he wanted to swim, we would swim; if he wanted to eat food, we would eat the amazing food my wife made last night (another blog entry is needed for that fabulous feast she cooked up). i thought it best to not make him do anything. i sensed that quite possibly at this particular point and time in his life, being made to do things he didn't want to do, was all that was going on in his life. so, simplistically thinking, i felt that even in our conversation i would let him talk, let him lead, let him guide, let him voice any frustration concerning any issue. in doing this, i would give him the validation he needed...

that he matters

regardless of what he has done or has not done.

my overwhelming sense is that when people are not affirmed or accepted they will do things to bring acceptance to their life, we all have done it. these things we do are advantageous in some ways and detrimental to our emotional health in others. but thru them we find validation for who we are and so sometimes it's easy to find comfort in intimate encounters physically with others. likewise, heroine has a way of relieving pressure that has not been relieved in relationships...which is where i believe god has intended. these examples are obviously disadvantageous to our well-being, any way you slice it. so any behavior, good or bad, black or white, brings notification. no such thing as bad pr, right? one of the problems you may find is that as a whole, society will more than likely respond with greater depth to those things that are very disadvantageous for the well-being of an individual. it's hard to pinpoint the good and truly commend others consistently. it's natural, a cop never pulls you over and tells you he thinks you are doing great for going the speed limit, or that he loved that you made a complete stop at the stop sign back there. no, we pay particular attention to when an individual does something wrong. you never call a meeting to discuss the great direction of the company or to discuss the smooth flowing legislation of a particular protocol. they are never the focal point...that is the fractured icon's we are. this, i feel, is what has plagued my metal head friend who was in a state of desperation. my response has to be very careful because of the rejection this kid has already experienced for only god knows how long. my desires were all about me, not him:

unconditional regard
  • esteeming him
  • giving him extreme amounts of worth even without knowing the situation
  • showing respect for his needs not because he did or didn't earn or deserve it but because he is a human being
  • i wanted to only observe him...and when you are observing, you are not talking or thinking of a response
  • i wanted sympathy for him, i wanted sorrow for his misfortune. however, i didn't want him to have to see me trying to feel those things
  • the smallest cue could trigger rejection, especially if they have never been taught how to have an adjusted personality but have, instead, lived maladjusted their whole life
  • it can be said like this: if a child doesn't engage in any activity w/ something you provide, and you provide something else and state something like, "maybe you would like to play/do something else." as an "adjusted" child they may hear options, which are good, but as a maladjusted child what is heard is their desire to not engage is disappointing to that person who is providing. this is communicated as rejection.
  • i cannot have compassion without a strong desire to alleviate the suffering
  • i cannot have a strong desire to alleviate the suffering without a truly deep feeling of sympathy and sorrow for the misfortune
compassion = action to alleviate suffering = sympathetic and sorrowful

at the end of the night i hoped he was able to find one person he could talk to and could listen to him. i don't even feel he wanted me to give him direction or tell him what to do. he wanted me to hear him explain what he was going thru and that he missed god. i hope i was able to validate him in his experience and be a representation of a god who loves him to the point of death.

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