“Everyone opens their blinds in the morning. It’s weird that you have them closed.” His judgmental tone rang in my ears as he went around the room and pulled open all the bent and broken metal blinds.
He was happy. I was not.
The “Youth House” was on the corner of the church property. A busy suburban corner with lots of car and foot traffic. The rental agreement was part of the terms of our employment. The upstairs was ours exclusively. The downstairs rooms and kitchen was shared with the church. And that’s how our “living room” was also a meeting room.
It was a sweet old house. One of the oldest in the neighborhood. Lots of quirky charm. Lots of potential. Terrible windows. Awful. Single panes, warped aluminum frames, and inexplicably uncleanable glass. We tried cleaning them but the dirt was permanent. (How does that happen?) We tried scraping the mislaid brush strokes from the glass but nothing removed that old, old paint. And, anyway, I didn’t like how exposed our lives were to all the traffic that passed by so I was happy to leave the blinds closed. It felt vulnerable to live in a house with a church sign out front. And at night, when my husband was 45 minutes away working the graveyard shift at the children’s prison (yes, a children’s prison), I wondered how many people could work out that the windows didn’t really lock and how easy it would be to break in. (I should note that my fears were not based in crazy suppositions because several of the youth group kids made a habit of climbing in through a window to wait for us if we weren’t home.) All that to say, it was just better to keep the blinds closed. It was better to keep things all closed up.
He took control of the room. He decided his needs were most important. In fact, I doubt he even thought there could be needs apart from his. I doubt it even crossed his mind. I wish he’d asked. I wish he’d cared. But he didn’t. So I had to sit in that meeting feeling embarrassed and exposed. Embarrassed that the windows were so dirty even though it wasn’t my fault. And exposed to the view of all the passersby. When the meeting ended and everyone was gone, I closed the blinds.
And I decided to move the meetings to a coffee shop where I didn’t have to feel embarrassed or exposed.
_ _ _
Fourteen years ago we became fast friends when were thrown together on a youth ministry team. She and I have gone through a lot together. A lot. We’ve planned and dreamed together. We’ve prayed and cried. We’ve giggled and celebrated. We’ve ministered to hundreds of teens together. We’ve shared and forgiven. She knows things about me that no one else knows. And in my darkest moments, she is the person I have called the most. She is wise, loving, and she hears God’s voice.
At our latest coffee date she said, “I can tell you anything because I know that you love me and won’t judge me.”
Took the words right out of my mouth, sister! Our friendship is very special. Vulnerability, transparency, and a sisterhood that overcomes.
With her, I have open blinds.
_ _ _
Everyone has reasons to live blinds-closed. Everyone has something they want to hide. Something that is best left unseen. Something that makes them feel at risk. Something that makes them feel too vulnerable.
As I listen to the friendship stories of women around me, I hear themes of judgment, rejection, pain, and humiliation. Of being attacked, ridiculed and unloved. And over time these women of deep beauty have pulled closed their blinds and walked away from being in community. And in the process they have closed themselves off from much needed sisterhood and friendship.
What is the answer? How can we have what we were made for? Love and sisterhood. Lives intertwined. The joy of being known. Of being truthful and vulnerable. How can we have friendship? Why is there so much pain involved in the friendships of women? It’s a tragedy. [Continue…]