Thursday, September 17, 2009
The mood in the shop is welcoming, the air happy-laden with the warm scent of coffee, the light a comforting, cooling dim from the glare of the summer I leave behind me as I enter. I’m not really here for a warm drink on a hot day. I’m here for conversation, here for relationship, two friends learning one another.
We share who we are, and two hearts meet, and I am changed as I know and as I am known. We talk too long, and not long enough; we leave wanting more, because we are the same. Our camaraderie is born of the different and the familiar, the places I have been are not the same and I am fascinated by what I have not seen, newly aware of where I have not been.
We converse and we relate, and we become more real with each true thing that is spoken. Here, we enter into the life of the other. Eventually, the question comes, “how far will you go with me?”
So much hangs on my response.
Recently several “coffee-shop” friends confessed past affairs. They told of brokenness, of selfishness, of redemption and grace, of poor choices and new, wiser boundaries. Two other friends shared fears and fallout because of their parents’ affair-initiated divorces, explaining personal boundaries they own for the mistakes of their elders.
I have listened in aching silence, mostly.
I don’t understand their secrets, but I understand sorrow. I cannot comprehend sleeping with a man who is not my husband, losing a man to another woman, watching my parents separate over such a thing.
For an uncertain moment, I hold my breath over my coffee cup, realizing I am not the same as they, afraid I have nothing to offer, for my experience is so different.
But still they share in the quiet of this friendship coffee shop, and I know my own sin is often birthed deep in fertile heart-ground, wedging me away from the man who stands beside me, holding back the help-meet love he needs when I am tired, when I want to be someone I am not.
So here is the truth, the authentic me: I am dust, woman made from man. I have tasted the same fruit and if I do not dismiss you with the presumption that I am any better, I may grow with you. I may know you.
The fact is, I am Eve too, and I ask the same questions you ask, wondering at each encounter, “how far will you go with me?”
I release my held-breath as I remember the grace that is mine to give, remember why I know that grace.
Over the course of several upcoming posts, I would like to expand and share this unpublished article on what I have been learning about authentic relationship.
There was so much of my life in this article I had not processed until I began to write it, and I just couldn't ready my thoughts for publication by the time my deadline rolled around. I may spread it out over a couple of weeks, do some regular posting in between, since I'm still focusing my thoughts. If you miss one, you can find the posts by clicking into this labels link.
I'd like to invite you to meet with me in my "coffee shop" either through email or in the comments sections (found in the little speech bubble at the top of my posts now!) on these posts , ask questions, start or join in this conversation. Some of my friends know my story after years of real conversations, some old friends may not know where I have been from where I started, some of my new friends may find opportunity to "know" me more.
*Recommended read: Joy, by Serena Woods
(Image © Informal Moments Photography)