Ghostbusters: Who ya gonna call?

Don't be fooled by the heading ... transparent post follows and I hope I don't regret the vulnerability eep!

I've been simmering away on this particular relational wrestle for a very long while now, not quite sure how to share it honestly without it coming across like a veiled slap in the face, when in reality it is something that has weighed so very heavy on my heart for so long that has actually been constricting me with the grief of it because I've not felt the social ability to communicate it. Other than with a very few, but even then not adequately to the depth it has impacted me. So, in doing so now I am hoping it will be therapeutically healing for myself more than anything, as the silent grief needs a considered voice to unshackle the heart. Maybe it will help you heal too. And thanks to virtual processing with a follow friend and forerunner, I managed to make a slightly comical connection to communicate it.

So who are you gonna call when the people in your life are ghosting you? Maybe they seemed to have vanished from sight to haunting the corners of your social media, something strange... maybe they are sliming over your neighbourhood, or creating havoc with thoughts running through your head because really their ghosting is about something happening in their life not yours. You need to call some ghostbusters. The ones who actively stand with you when others vanish in fear of relationally engaging skin in the game, and send the boogeymen back to where they came from. Maybe now it's become a twofold game of ghosting avoidance. For most people we don't like anything that requires a sacrifice on behalf of another, we don't like uncomfortable and we want to be primary beneficiaries. Yet "Jesus said the greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends. ... “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” John 15:13-14.

I am not a great ghostbuster for myself, I tend to let them hover around to show themselves as they will so as not to offend their welcome. I am a difficult person to offend because my default is to see the best in folks and give them as many do overs as they require. Immature behaviour can irritate and frustrate me however, but its more like sand in my shoe that I just need to shake out and move on and choose not to hold against the person but see instead as part of the growth process. Having kids and walking with them in their growth and understanding journey, you can't afford to be offended at their behaviour or responses to life if you want to still love them, doesn't mean I don't need to shake out the sands of irritation as they learn though. I also don't offend easy because no matter if I should or not, I tend to default by internally taking on the posture of the guilty, the shamed, the wrong and the villain and just silently live in the pain of it. Even if I have the comprehension otherwise, I will feel like the bad guy and martyr in the story in a perverted attempt to be gracious and cover others involved. This helps no one and no thing.

The past year in particular, I have been more intentionally trying to live out the truth that "I am powerful with powerful people", any people really because I believe every person is a powerful person, and it turns out this is a generational thing for me to nail, though slowly. I've found generally people don't like it when I choose to be powerful with my own life. Why? Because they can't just get what they want from expecting it of me, they are learning that they can't corner, control or manipulate me (no matter how subtle) into choices that are not my own anymore which is how I have let myself be treated in the past. By being powerful I mean that you make choices on your terms, your no means no and your yes, yes. There is room for healthy relational compromise and flexibility, generosity and depth, but without the exploitation within the relationship. Honestly I don't think the majority of people are aware when they are exploiting, lack honour or lack personal investment in relationships unless it is pointed out to them because our tendency is to focus in on our own relational experience than also the other people it affects. I have been chronic at tending to fall on my sword over what really isn't ok with how people relate with me instead of communicating how much it gradually sands away at personal worth as a disposable or recyclable commodity.

Sadly for the past season this has been something we have had a culmination occurrence of. I don't believe in seasonable relationships, I do believe choices can change relationship dynamics but they are determined by the people involved not the seasonable fashion filler they provide. While Carl is more guarded with his heart so hasn't been as deeply impacted by relationships, my heart has often felt like it has bled over this issue on behalf of the both of us. He is generous beyond reasonable lengths and I love deep and I love long, even beyond the life of a relationship. I can't just flick the switch of love for others off even if the dynamics have changed. This is a good thing really because love keeps our hearts towards others soft, but the grief that comes from loving that hard has made it difficult to reconcile in a season of more than the occasional challenge and has had me questioning the extravagance of love to the end result of it is still always worth it. When you have me, you have me for life, unless you choose to walk away or create a little more distance than before, and in love I need to let you do what you have resolved because that is you making a powerful choice whether it seems right or wrong to me, but even still then my love for others doesn't immediately adjust appropriately to the new dynamics. I love that I love like this! I really do, and have seen it help return dear friends to their Saviour because they know they can find love where they left it, I see it as one of my strengths rather than weakness even as it tolls on my heart at times. I have however never experienced a season of compounded grieving in love like this. And I have not been brave in communicating more how much pain I have concealed in some vain attempt to make sure others don't feel offended by the pain. It has been painful for us to be only desired for what we can do or be used for as the main reason for connection, it has been painful to be falsely judged by those we have loved as our own or because of another's report of their filtered experience, it has been painful to be generous with what is never our overflow but our personal resource to forget we are people in the process, it's been painful to have things said in secret in judgement by those who we thought had our backs in love and then have to spend sleepless nights breaking those curses that have slimed off us because God sees and cares, it's been painful when people want to be in 'the know' but not personally engaged, it has been painful that there are friends we love that have no idea what challenges we have faced this season because they simply never considered to ask, it's painful that in the time of greatest need to experience abandonment and loneliness, it's been painful that imaginations have been believed over the trustworthiness of personal relationship and historical equity, it is painful that we haven't been worth the pursuit in the way we pursue others, it's been painful when others have been frustrated with our process through trauma wanting it done with so they can get what they need from us again. The heartache is not unforgiveness or bitterness, just the process of grief over love lost and desired, and change, and the acknowledgement of each reality we have had to walk through in the past season as part of the relational process.

Because people matter so much to me it has been hard wrestling with the 'what is wrong with me that I'm not worth the love I give' questions, only to realise that the enemy amongst the rest of the havoc he was creating had just taken another of my great loves and unknowing to them played them as pawns in his latest stage show in an attempt to convince me extravagant love is wasted in this world. Well I'm calling the curtain call on that show of lies. We need to be ghostbusters, who call people kindly to put some skin in the relational game again (and allow others into) to whatever appropriate degree that would be that isn't just self benefiting. Being willing to be uncomfortable with navigating awkward spaces we are not use to, even getting it wrong, and sharing the battlegrounds of our friends. We need to be better at trusting and seeing goodness in others than presuming imaginations. We need to ask more questions in order to understand, not look for mirror images of ourselves because we need each others diversity and pursue others as if our lives depended on the exchanges and deposits rather than fringe benefits.

In amongst all this I have had to let love let go where I've still wanted to hold close. God has showed me how I need to not behave like a doormat, that He doesn't want me to feel so alone and depleted, that in the changing of the guardians of my heart (though many are actually the long faithful remaining) He is actually preserving me for what is to come, to make sure that these close guardians are worthy to be partakers as not all will be permitted that inner access that I have given before. This is new for me, I don't like it, but I trust it because He cares so much. This is not an exclusivity clause, it's His invitation to love me well (best you can) because I will love you well (best I can) whoever is willing. And I pray that for you as well. That you would understand being loved might actually look like what you need not what you expect. That the guardians of your heart would be revealed to you. That you would pursue where you should and not withdraw, and consider your relationships outside of mindsets and formulas pre-constructed in exchange for His ideas about your people and who you are to them. That you would have and be Jonothan's and Christ-like in your laying down of life for one another - not in expectancy but because you are personally invested in their success in life. Your celebrations would be each others, your sufferings shared patiently as your own and your shields and swords lent in battle.

To all the guardians of our galaxy this past season (now I'm just mixing movie references!) THANK YOU. The ones that provided to need, prayed til there was breakthrough, walked and talked, showed up to just be with and help out the viking, ones willing to jump on a plane to cross an ocean, shared their joys and struggles, shared a coffee or meal, kept regular catch ups, kept us company and laughs via message sagas, ones who spoke life and purpose until it was believed and seen again, ones who wept, ones who discerned, ones who surprised and the ones who knew how to just listen as we processed. WE LOVE YOU. Call on us any day and we will probably get a whole lot wrong along the way, but love you as our own.

Because He first loved

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