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The Reality of Real

So, I've been writing about the importance of being real, especially within church community  real about personal pain, real about the brokenness of the world, real about (and repentant of) the role of Christianity in upholding and reproducing aspects of that brokenness. And I've been reading lots on the subject; our small group study series at the moment, for example, is Brueggemann et al.'s Psalmist's Cry: Scripts for Embracing Lament, which seeks to lead us into greater openness with ourselves and with one another. And it sounds great, it really does, but I have to confess that I sorta haven't actually made it to any of the sessions, and it kinda might not be entirely accidental – a fact I feel appropriately sheepish about, given that, erm, it mighta been me who recommended the book in the first place. Thing is, thanks and all that for the suggestion, Brueggemann, but it's just not that simple, actually. When you've been hurt in the past and you've got more than enough to contend with already at present and it's not always easy to tell who's up for being receptive and 'real' back at you into the future, it is safer – wiser even, I'm tempted to reason – not to go there.

         What happens now that I have said my piece?
         Set it before you in the best way I know how;
         Exposed my heart, expounded on my griefs 
         What happens now?
         Embarrassed silence, or a furrowed brow;
         A change of subject, introduced with haste;
         Or, worst, a kind but colourless avowal.
         And I, watching the disconnect increase,
         Resent the urgings of the holier-than-thou
         To lose the mask, and not expect the least.
         What happens now?
         Carolyn Whitnall, 2018.

Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none. (Psalm 69:20)

What does happen now? Where do we go from here? Don't ask me. I come bearing problems, not solutions. Worse than that, I am the problem: I am at least as much the idealist making it all sound easy, and the hypocrite failing to respond to others with comfort and understanding, as I am the casuality of my own ill-received attempts at vulnerability. I'm sorry for this; I want to 'do better', whatever that looks like (Colossians 3:12-17 springs to mind). But being real about the difficulty of being real feels as much as I can muster at the moment.

[Thumbnail image: Sir Antony Gormley's 'Another Place'; photograph cc-by-sa/2.0 by David Dixon].


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