There are dill pickles, sweet pickles, pickle relish, a glass pickle ornament that goes on my tree every year, gherkins, a former co-worker whose nickname was pickles, and then there are Jennie pickles. The pickles I get myself into. And boy do I know how to get myself into some good ones! Most often my pickles are self-created by not choosing my words wisely, letting them tumble out of my mouth with no filter, without stepping into the receiving end to see how they feel. Whoever came up with the phrase, "Stick and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me." is a big fat stinking liar! Words cause some of the most terrific damage.
Little over two years ago I got myself into one of the grandest pickles yet. Sadly, it nearly destroyed one of my longest dearest friendships. Despite the mess I made of things, with grace, forgiveness and tenacity, we have trudged forward. Cautious and scared of hurting one another again, it was uncomfortable, awkward and felt pretty much horrible. It would have been so much easier to let contact peter out, become only Christmas card friends, and blame the distance on other life changes - a move to the country, changes in social circles, life situations. But 16 years of friendship was too valuable to lose. We chose, mutually, to fight for restoration. Friday night we got together for dinner, I fed her stew that was much too spicy for her liking but was packaged up for the husband to enjoy. Chatting, sharing, laughing we had a delightful time. I asked a hard question, she took the answer a different direction. I asked the question again later. Long pause. "The short answer we tell everyone is..., but what is really going on is..." Previous hesitation made sense, she wasn't sure it was safe to share with me, would she be hurt by my careless words yet again? But she did share, opening her tender heart to me, to share her true self. My response was unfiltered, unchecked - but one of compassion and empathy, assurance. With the establishment of safety, more could be shared, hearts opened. Friendship healing, wounds no longer raw - or at least not quite as raw.
26. I'm thankful for a friendship that spans that last 18 years. That has weathered severe storms and continues forward to repair the broken parts of relationship, and reflect God's healing powers.
I routinely get into pickles with my brother. It would be a monumental challenge to find two people more different - other than the parents. Between the four of us we have all four compass points of a personality map covered. It makes for some interesting family dynamics, and those between Chris and I tend to be explosive. While he can give it out better than anyone I know, he can't take it. Especially from me. He can rip me to pieces and be slightly mean about it, but what he says is so funny that I'm crying with laughter. I make one sarcastic remark to him and I get the silent treatment for months. Sunday I made up a batch of cookies, Momofuku chocolate chip cornflake marshmallow cookies, he had asked me to figure out a recipe for them as a Christmas gift for his girlfriend. They are very tasty! I sent him a text with a picture of the cookies from yesterday cooling on the sheet with the message: "Curse you for introducing me to these devilish things!" His response was his address. On my lunch break today I sent him a box of cookies.
27. Despite how many times we wound each other, we are still family, we still make it right; I still love him like crazy, even when he drives me there. Hope that a day will come when we have a good relationship.
I got myself into a minor pickle just yesterday, perhaps a gherkin. I was trying to tease a friend in an email, but she took me literally. Opps. Didn't she see the smiley face? Didn't she know I was joking? Guess not... another learning opportunity for me to choose words carefully.
28. Large and small, big deals and small deals, misunderstandings and deep wounds - all provide the opportunity to grow, be refined, learn to show and receive grace and mercy, to gain new insight into what it means to have godly character and a chance to practice it, practice humility.
Not all my pickles involve other people. I manage to get myself into pickles with myself. (That sounds weird, like I'm taking a bath in pickles.) I had to do something for professional development at work. Since my job is becoming much more project oriented, I enjoy working on projects, and it seems to fit with my skills, I decided to sign up for a project management class. I am in over my head. The class is geared for someone with significant experience leading projects. That is not me - yet. It may never be if I don't pass this class. Due to my amazing powers of procrastination and over-committing, I have had to start cramming to get it done. The stress has been weighty as other responsibilities have been neglected to study, cookies have been made instead of studying, and the stress increases - to the point that I was about to cry from sheer frustration last night with my mediocre grade on quiz 3.
29. Even when I can't seem to learn a lesson for the umpteenth time, God is gracious to me. Knowing I just may crack from the stress this time, He provided a pressure valve release - a six month extension to finish the course. Thank you!! (Now all of you, hold me accountable to get the class finished by mid-May, otherwise I'm going to be back in this same situation in September.)