As our culture’s penultimate holiday moves ever so swiftly into our nearer view and as I consciously and not-so-consciously look back over this year and gaze into 2009 as well, I have come to an initial conclusion. One of the qualities which has helped me though life thus far is an ability to adjust my point of view. As always, the very thing labeled a strength can also be perceived as a major tripping point – and often does just that, resulting in gravel ground into the knees. The trick is to manage that strength/weakness dichotomy.
My weak-leaning tendency is to give myself away. I can understand only too well another’s point of view. And, it took at least 40-to-45 of my 55 years to give myself some credit. The message I had learned – very well – somewhere along the way was that I didn’t count for very much, that everyone else’s ideas and opinions, thoughts and observations, heartaches and joys, competencies and achievements were ever so much higher, better, deeper than mine. I had to understand the other person; expecting or, entirely forbidden, requesting reciprocity was out of line.
At this moment I’m not sure when or how that attitude changed, but as our culture’s penultimate holiday moves every so swiftly into my nearer view, I am totally certain that “it” has happened and that I’m better for it. A vast majority of the sermons I wrote over the 15 years I served the church came from that slowly developing place of adjustment, a biblical passage undergoing a transformation from what I’d always thought, from the literal “this is what the words say” to what it might mean, to what it could imply for everyday life, my own and the lives of those who listened to me week after week. My closest relationships are marked, no longer by an automatic handing over of control and authority to the other person, but by an ability to be present and to listen and to respond, hearing without having to agree, honoring another position without having to defend my own, offering in a non-anxious way (I hope) different ways of seeing things.
What any or all of this might mean for 2009 is anybody’s guess. My strongest hope is that I can – and will – continue to stay tuned in and aware, willing to use what might be one of my unique gifts.