Friday, October 2, 2009

I'm Not Here To Make Friends

September 25, 2009

Today, I listened to the Sept 11, 2009 podcast of This American Life entitled "Frenemies." In it, Ira Glass brought together stories about friends. Or wait, enemies? How about both? Tales of estranged sisters, BFFs breaking up and making up and breaking up, and how reality stars walk the fine line between making friends and making a name for themselves.
  • The sister who the author is stuck with, but from whom she becomes estranged after her marriage to man from another religion.
  • The bridegroom who was requested to toast the marriage of his best friend to his ex-fiance.
  • The two women who met through a now-ex boyfriend of both.
Act Two included a story from deep inside the natural habitat of frenemies: reality TV. Rich Juzwiak, a full-time blogger spends a lot of time watching and dissecting reality TV shows. And last year, he noticed that one sentence seems to repeat an awful lot in the frenemy friendships that happen on reality TV. Once, he geeked out on common phrases that he hears on these programs. By far the most common phrase that reality show contestants like to share is "I"m not here to make friends!" It's so popular, in fact, that he spliced and recorded four minutes from dozens of reality TV shows into one youtube video. It's not a pretty sight.

As I completed the reading for this week's didactic on Pastoral Care, I read from Henri Nouwen's article on the Wounded Healer. He writes, "A minister is not a doctor whose primary task is to take away pain. Rather, he deepens pain to a level where it can be shared...and in sharing it can understand it as a basic human condition." (read: I'm not here to make friends)

"Perhaps the main task of the minister is to prevent people from suffering for the wrong reasons..." He proposes that through common wounds, the care giver can liberate people from the supposition that there should be no fear or loneliness, no confusion or doubt. "...these sufferings can only be dealt with creatively when they are understood as wounds integral to our human condition. Therefore, ministry is a very confronting service. " (read: I'm not here to make friends)

"...[ministry] does not allow people to live with illusions of immortality and wholeness. It keeps reminding others that they are mortal and broken, but also that with the recognition of this condition, liberation starts." (read: I'm not here to make friends)

"These wounds and pains are openings and occasions for a new vision. Mutual confession becomes a mutual deepening of hope, and sharing weakness becomes a reminder to one and all of the coming strength."

As a Chaplain, I find this difficult. I so want to be a people pleaser. I so want to tell people that it will be okay. I so want to fix what's broken, take away the pain, offer immortality and wholeness. Then I remember: I'm not here to make friends. What a paradox.

How does your woundedness draw you closer to others and bring healing, right now?

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