Affirm My Narrative, Please.

The priest said that he had only ever met the victims.  He wondered where all these crummy types were who were willfully hurting, using, and oppressing his parishioners.  It seems they were all elsewhere; he’d only met the people grievously injured by them, righteously bearing their crosses of undeserved suffering.

The most dangerous thing you can do in a relationship is to challenge someone’s narrative; to challenge their story about themselves, however gently you might do so.  Our narratives are tailor-made, and the tailor is too often deceived.  We remember with affection all the good we do (or intend to do, someday); we glance away from our errors, our sins, the ways we’ve pained others, besides, we remember how provoked we were, and really, it’s understandable.  If only people knew how much we constrained ourselves they’d appreciate our self-control.  Too often our friends nod comfortingly, they empathize, they echo back to us, and they soothe.  It’s seen as the good office of the friend, to be supportive no matter what.  Affirm my narrative, please.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

-Proverbs 27:6

As iron sharpens iron,  so a friend sharpens a friend.  

-Proverbs 27:17

 

What a good and painful gift it is to have a friend who lovingly dares to pierce our narrative; to say, “No, the plot did not twist in that way; you were at fault and you remain so.”  Then we have to play back the reel, removing our pride-tinted glasses and/or our blinders.  We, if we are brave and humble even for a moment, have to see our narrative ring false.  If we can bear that without shoveling excuses or justifications over our turned shoulders, we approach honesty, then guilt, then repentance.

But it could, and it often does happen, that instead we dig in our heels; we believe our narrative as infallible.  We regard the wounding friend as the enemy; we see their words as weapons and not instruments of healing.  We seek and find a soothing balm in understanding friends; ones on “our side”.

The friend who dared, who risked on our behalf to enlighten our darkness; they are left to watch us carry on in most-certain wrongheadedness and willful pride.  They have a double portion of hurt, for they offered in love to help us see that which was destroying us.  They tried to deliver the medicine for the sickness; unpleasant medicine, to be sure, but needful.  They were then wounded in turn, in anger, for daring to question our narrative.

Lord have mercy on us and make us humble; finding in the wounds of a friend Your own loving correction and faithful leading.  Make us brave to see clearly, and to love fully.408196_10151676557058352_643068089_n

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5 thoughts on “Affirm My Narrative, Please.

  1. Hi dear Sarah, you always speak interesting wise words. Thanks, I want to reply about the kids ” reading”. I remember a summer when my sister and I fake read all the time. We looked like your pic . You could call it dramatic play ( with reading). Sometimes we made up the story from the pictures or just our imagination. Sometimes we “read silently” with quiet mumbles. Your picture brought back a fun memory from about 4 or 5 years old. 😀 Nancy

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  2. Sarah, thanks for these thoughtful words. They remind me of Proverbs 4 where the writer speaks of wisdom. Verses 18-19 contrasts the path of the righteous person (one who walks in wisdom) to one who walks in his/her own ways. When we walk our own way, our path is darkened. We stumble and don’t know why. Humility enables us to be teachable; pride resist any rebuke. We all need mercy!
    Elaine

  3. I have been convicted lately that if I want change in my life, I need to take an honest look at myself. Where have I wronged others? How am I being judgmental? Am I feeling like a victim when really I need to change and humble myself? These words were thought provoking for me. Thank you for sharing.

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