So, about me not opening up. Part of the issue with this is that to be honest, I don't always realize what types of things I am struggling with. A big part of my job is being around people, so I never actually just spend time alone. I mean, no TV, no ipod, no phone, no computer, just me. With a little encouragement, I decided to spend 1 day alone. There is a place in Minneapolis called the Urban retreat center. I didn't know what to expect, and was in fact fairly nervous about going, but I signed up anyway.
This place is just north of the cities, above this families garage. They day I showed up, I was surprised by the amount of trees surrounding this neighborhood. Anyway - I found my way around to this, what ended up being a really nice space with an open living room, a coffee maker, a nice little kitchen, and a smaller room with a couch and very comfy napping chair.
My host met me and showed me around. Outside there was a walking labyrinth, there were walking trails close by, she had lunch for me in the refrigerator, then asked if I wanted to code to get on-line. I told her no, knowing that if I had the code, I would probably get on. She then handed me a tentative schedule. The first thing that impressed me was the time blocked out for a nap. She had me going for a walk, reading, journaling, eating, and just sitting, hanging out. Before she left, she asked if I had brought anything to read. I said no. She went over and grabbed a book and told me that she thought this book would be really good for me. it was a book dealing with the story of the Prodigal Son. Whatever.
So after i got over the 20 minutes of being by myself without a phone, music, or anything, I went for a walk. Ok, so I took a wrong turn and the walk took me a few extra minutes. Anyway, it was fine. Kind of weird..but fine. I came back to start some reading. I began, then about 15 minutes later woke up. After making some coffee, I began reading in the comfy chair again. I will admit, I really got into it. After reading for a while, i decided to jump ahead a little bit and see what the author had to say about the "other" brother. You know, the one that tries to do the right thing but his parents throw the party for the brother that went off to some big city? Did I mention I'm a middle child?
Anyway, after a really stinking good lunch, I went ahead and read some more. It was crazy how this book that had been handed to me, how much it was speaking to me, where I was, right then. It wasn't a crazy epiphany moment, but it's like this had been written just for me.
Finally, I felt the need to walk around, so i went through the labyrinth. I found my mind wandering a fair amount about a wide range of topics. Finally, near this spot was a large lounger chair and I went to sit by. After a few minutes, I actually said out loud "OK - seriously - what am I doing out here right now? Is there something I need to know?" Yes, I actually said it out loud. I will be completely honest, I don't have a lot of "God is speaking to me" moments. Suddenly, as I am sitting there, I realized how alone I had felt the last few months. The months leading up to my sabbatical had been a bit on the stressful side. I also don't cry a lot. Seriously. Do I get upset? Yes. Full out cry? No. But there it was...all out tears coming down. Suddenly, I am sitting there wondering whether or not I have anyone in my life that will hold me up. Suddenly, the story of the four guys lowering their friend through the rough jumps in my head, wondering to myself, who will do this for me? Finally, four faces jumped up at me. It was like a load that I hadn't even realized I had been carrying around was lifted off. I know what this sounds like.
Here's the other thing about me. I'm really good at the more on the surface relationship. I'm not good at the "let me share how I am feeling, struggling with, and what I screwed up" part of my life. I don't like to share with people. Period. I like people to see me as the guy who cares about them, is a happy kind of guy, and who seems to have things figured out. The other thing that spoke to me that day was that I needed to be able to share with people what I am struggling with so that I am not doing it alone.
It's a weird thing, trust. Being able to trust somebody enough to let them in and see the messy aspects of our lives. It also greatly impacts our faith. If I can't let others in, how am I supposed to let God in? And to be honest, most of my good friends realize when I am struggling, they are good enough friends to just be there with me and remind me I'm not alone in my struggle.