Friendly processing

This has been a rough week. This past Sunday’s church shooting in nearby North Wales is weighing heavily on my mind. Such things simply should not be, and yet they are. The lack of media coverage about this event continues to blow my mind. Granted, Pennsylvania had its primary on Tuesday and that’s been taking up a large part of the local news cycle – but I didn’t think it would disappear as quickly as it did. The cynic in me says, “There wasn’t enough carnage.” 1 If there had been carnage, local media would have gone out of their way to weave it into the election coverage, it just becomes part of the ratings game.

I could use this space comment on the nature of the shooting, or the delve more deeply into the lack of media coverage, or even critique the church’s method of processing public grief. But I’m striving to focus on the “hopeful” part of my blog’s title.

So, instead of these more negative topics 2, I’m going to write about friendship.

I am privileged have good friends. Friends with whom I can share my thoughts, celebrations, and anxieties. Being strongly introverted, I don’t have many friends who fit that bill 3, but those who do are deep and wonderful and kind. They allow me to process, ask great questions, and let me rant when I need to process via lament. Without these friends I probably would have run from pastoral ministry years ago.

My friends are wonderful. Certainly more wonderful than I deserve.

Practically speaking, the presence of these friends means what I write here or post in social media is not “raw thought.” It is authentically me, just not raw me. By the time I’m ready to sit down and post my thoughts I’ve already been chewing for a while, and my friends are the ones who allow me the space to do so 4. I don’t process in order to present myself in a better light than I deserve. Honestly, I’m a mess of a human-being. I process before I write because I’m striving to understand my own reactions 5. I want to know why I am happy, or angry, or sad, or distraught, or annoyed – and my first reactions don’t often afford me that insight.

I don’t always manage to accomplish this self-awareness, but I am striving to grow in this discipline. I have to admit, if I didn’t have my friend, it would probably be impossible even to attempt practicing it 6.

So, when you are angry or annoyed or fearful or frustrated or ecstatic try something before you share on a blog or spread an internet meme. Find some friends with whom you can work out these thoughts and emotions in a less public forum. Chances are you’ll still want to publicly share from these different perspectives later, but when you finally share it will spring from a place of greater self-awareness and empathy. Those are gifts worth sharing with the world.

  1. And, for my Christian friends are convinced “the media” will do anything to blast organized Christianity, may I point out this is a situation where spinning events to discredit all organized religion would be easy. It hasn’t been done, it hasn’t even been brought up. 
  2. And, yes, I do have thoughts on all of those topics. I’m not a saintly un-opinionated robot. 
  3. In real life I’m actually a rather private person. 
  4. Interestingly, this doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve actually had a conversation with my friends (though this is often the case). Many times I have the conversations I know I can have with my friends in my own head. I have a very active inner thought life. 
  5. Christian spirituality would say this is part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit reveals our deepest hearts to ourselves, so we can both celebrate the goodness of God found in us and repent the stain of sin which resides in us still. 
  6. Inner thoughts are great, but even I get bored without actual voices. From time to time. 

One Comment

  1. Peg Horton says:

    You love deeply. So you will grieve deeply over the wrong done to each other. Go ahead and lament with or without words. Friends understand. Sent from my iPad


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