Are you Strong Enough to be my … Friend

If you knew me, would you still love me? We all need others who will be strong enough to handle what comes from the inner world of each other.

When they had opened up, they looked at me and wondered if I would reject them. So many others had.

I have a face I cannot show
I make the rules up as I go
Just try and love me if you can

Are you strong enough to be my man

When I’ve shown you
That I just don’t care
When I’m throwing punches in the air
When I’m broken down and I can’t stand
Would you be man enough to be my man
Sheryl Crow – Are you strong enough to be my man

 

I like Sheryl Crow’s lyrics.

I know the person she is writing about. I have met them many times.

All with different faces and varying stories, but underneath the macho or the makeup, there is an inner world of struggle and outer behavior of ‘throwing punches in the air.’

They want to be known, explored, discovered, and touched, but is there anyone strong enough to be able to do this with them.

They want their failing movements into their world acknowledged and affirmed, but that requires honesty and openness.

They have beauty, too quickly self dismissed, and they long to be embraced and cherished.

Are you strong enough?

Being strong enough is to admit our weakness. That we don’t have all the answers and that we are also stumbling in the dark.

It’s not so much ‘the blind leading the blind and both falling into a pit’ Matthew 15:14 it’s more ‘I’ve got my dirty glasses on so perhaps I can walk beside you, and we can find a path.’

Are you strong enough to own the weakness in yourself? That you don’t have it all together.

The vision beyond the moment

It can look very dark and ugly when people get real about their inner struggles. Their darkness can creep over you like an all-engulfing shadow that wants to swallow you up.

I’ve listened to those places. I’ve seen the black hole of despair and felt the pull.

You want to run because you don’t know what to do.

You always want to be able to do something, but it’s in the act of doing seemingly nothing, of just being there, that you are offering the most precious gift – your presence.

You hold a flickering candle of hope for them. It’s a compelling vision that things can be different.

That one has to pass through the night before the first beams of a sunrise can caress the face. That with the right direction, another step forward can be taken.

This vision is not something grand and over the top. It’s more that things can get better a little bit at a time. It’s achievable.

The power of consistency

People who are ‘strong enough’ say something like this.

‘I don’t have a clear plan of what is required to help, but I’m going to be consistent in turning up.  I will be there.’

It’s being honest about how much can be offered and then following through.

People who might ‘make the rules up as they go’ need those who have a solidness to them. It’s a consistency they might rail against, but it’s in this relationship mutual respect may develop.

Man enough to be my man

What does it mean to be ‘Man enough’?

The Hebrew word for Male is ‘Zakar’ (Zac ab) and means to be one that remembers, recalls, calls to mind. It’s one who remembers then moves into the chaos of the world facing them.

Being ‘Man enough’ is to remember truth and goodness, then moving with grace, purpose, and presence into the world of those who are ‘broken down and can’t stand.’

You don’t have to be macho to be a man.

Can you do this?

Are you one that is strong enough to help another pilgrim with a heavy load?

I believe you can.

Love deeply. Care wisely.

Quotes to consider

  • Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity. Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You
  • Compassion means entering the suffering of another in order to lead the way out.  Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
  • Talk’s easy, work’s hard. Consistent trustworthy behavior over time equals trust. Notice the word consistent is emphasized. Consistency is the key to the process. Stefanie Carnes Mending A Shattered Heart
  • Love acts like a giant magnet that pulls out of us, like iron filings, every recorded injury, every scar. Terrence Real
  • It takes immense courage to walk in solidarity with the suffering of others, and even our own. Richard Rohr Eager to Love

Questions to answer

  1. What strength do you fall back on when faced with someone in a struggle?
  2. What’s it like not to have all the answers?
  3. What have been the qualities you have seen in those who have been ‘strong enough’ for you?

Further reading

Boundaries of the Heart are Lines of Love and Respect

Six Keys on How to Pray for the Healing of a Mental Illness

Your Failures in Life Need Love

Barry Pearman

Photo by Arvydas Venckus on Unsplash