Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit with in me,
As many of you know, I have more men friends than women friends. It has just always been that way for as long as I can remember.
In grade school, it was guys and I who would meet at the park in the afternoons for games of baseball. They never treated me like a girl and they never used a whimpy little softball. We played marbles, and when I lost, they never thought twice about taking my marbles, they kept me on equal ground.
In high school it was jumping in the car with the guys and heading to McDonald’s for a burger. I listened to them share their woes about their girlfriends or the girls they were hoping would soon be their girlfriends. In college, it was the guys and I who would meet regularly (probably too often) for beers and whiskey. Unfortunately, I learned to win the beer chugging games and swear like a sailor, a drunken sailor! I have just always had my inner circle full of men. Thank God I have married a man who understands that!
I like men friends. They are honest, sometimes to a fault. They don’t possess the emotional factor that most women possess, when they speak or give an answer it usually comes from a straightforward, logical standpoint. Men don’t get all tied up in games or feelings, they aren’t (for the most part) overly reactive and they usually tend to listen. I don’t find the jealousies that exist like they do with many women, and they can be very sweet in offering flatteries from time to time.
With this being said, I can’t even begin to understand why a direct answer from a friend affected me so adversely.
Do not cast me aways from your presence,
And do not take your holy spirit from me.
Here’s how it all went down. I’m up late a few months back talking to a friend of mine through FB chat. I have developed a sweet friendship with him over the years and it has always been filled with honesty and speaking our minds, (Ok, maybe speaking my mind) but he always listens . I had something that had been bothering me for a while so I thought I would pose the question to him and get his take on it all. So, after giving it a bit of thought, I typed it out.
"Hey, Can I ask you a question? And before you give me an answer, I want you to be truthful. I promise I won’t ever bring it up again, even if I don’t like the answer."
"OK, ask away."
"I want to better myself, improve myself. Is there anything about me that you like less than when you first met me?"
"Oh, that’s easy, it’s ……………."
Oh My Gosh! Whaaaat? SO many things went so wrong for me in that split second! First, this friend does not type quickly. Sometimes, when we are on chat, he takes 3-4 minutes to give a two-word reply. Maybe my initial shock was that it took exactly a nano second for him to write, ‘Oh, that’s easy.” Or maybe it was the fact he said, “Oh, that’s easy.”
I have to admit, my initial goal was wanting to honestly improve things about myself, but knowing that there were such obvious improvements needing to be made took me off guard. I have to admit, there was a part of me that hoped to hear, “Are you kidding me? There is absolutely nothing about you that needs improvement!”
Wouldn’t that have been grand? To be viewed by someone as a model of perfection? To be told that you are practically perfect in every way? The sun shines because you are good, the moon adds more glimmer to the midnight sky because your goodness enhances it’s own glow-ability. You are enchanting, fabulous, I-wouldn’t-change-a-thing-about-you! But no, I got an honest, “Oh, that’s easy.” He didn’t even have to think, ponder the question or even try to figure out how to say it. He gave a direct, split second answer. It’s like he had been waiting to finally have an outlet for telling me this. I was devastated.
It has taken me a while to process this. The point he made was valid, it IS something I need to work on and I think I have made great strides since then on improving in this area. In retrospect, it wasn’t the fact that he actually had a quick rebuke for me; it was the fact that I have had to take a deeper, harder look at myself to see who I am. I obviously wasn’t the person I thought I was, or the person I want to be. Others were viewing something I assumed was a positive trait in my personality, as annoying and aggravating. Wow, it’s been a long hard look in the mirror, but one that I was forced to see.
It’s kind of that way with God too. I want Him to show me the areas of my life that I need to improve in. I want my walk with Him to be so close that He can show me anything that need’s fixing and then we, (God & I) can fix it. Sometimes, when He points things out to me, I do the same thing I did with my friend. I stop and try to think of all the positive things I have done that He should adore about me, but that wasn’t what I asked for, was it? I am sure had I asked, “Do you find anything good about me?” my friend would have been gracious and listed at least one thing, but I asked the opposite, I asked for what was apparently wrong that I could fix. He gave me an honest reply.
It’s a long journey through this life. I want to be kind and pleasing to people. I want to be funny and happy and come off as one who has it all together, but in being me I am far from being the person who God has designed me to be. I am imperfect and someone who needs fixing, someone who needs to make changes to stay happy in this life. Someone who can’t do them on her own but needs a father, a higher power to guide me. I have confidence that God will change me slowly into the person He wants me to be, the one who can serve Him best and bring the most glory I can to Him, but only when I allow Him to show me the areas in my life that need to be tweaked or changed.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Now, as the late great Paul Harvey would say: "And now for the rest of the story." Just how did I handle the immediate situation of the nano-second reply? I did what anyone would do; I got on the phone and called my best friend. I asked him the same exact question in the same exact way, and I told him what my other friend said, and oddly I was on the verge of tears.
He had a completely different answer for me. He said, “Jones, if there is one thing that I find wrong with you, it’s that you place too much faith in God in your life. But I would never change that about you because that is what makes you, YOU.”
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
And sinners will be converted to you.
Psalm 51: 10-13