Wrestling Partner!

As soon as the meeting began, she was the first one to ask a question. Actually, it was more of an accusatory statement packaged as a question. Yet there was something about her demeanor that suggested her energy came from a place of deep conviction.

This first encounter evolved into a wonderful 30 year friendship that might be best described as a wrestling match. My friend had an endless supply of theological and cultural pondering, wondering and questions that she loved to explore with me. She had opinions and perspectives that she readily admitted came from her upbringing and context, yet there was always an inquisitiveness that led her to broaden her worldview.

My friend passed away this last week, surrounded by her loving family. In the few short months prior to her death, our conversations were, as always, filled with curiosity, banter and humor…and lots of love.

One of my favorite quotes comes from author Rachel Held, “Our job is to ready the sails and gather the embers, to discuss and debate, and like the biblical character Jacob, to wrestle with the mystery until God gives us a blessing.”
This imagery always reminds me of the richness and the importance of good, healthy engagement. Like Jacob, when we are willing to honestly wrestle with another’s viewpoint, and wrestle with our own assumptions, our eyes will be opened and our lives will be both transformed and blessed.

I will be ever grateful for my friend who always challenged me roll up my sleeves and engage in robust discussion and debate. Our engagement never felt divisive, demeaning or dismissive. Rather, it was life-giving, transformative and truly a blessing. I will miss her, in what Brene Brown refers to as the ‘arena’.

“If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, I am not interested in or open to your feedback. There are a million cheap seats in the world today filled with people who will never be brave with their own lives, but will spend every ounce of energy they have hurling advice and judgement at those of us trying to dare greatly. Their only contributions are criticism, cynicism, and fear-mongering. If you’re criticizing from a place where you’re not also putting yourself on the line, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

Rest In Peace, Rise in Glory good wrestling partner!

4 thoughts on “Wrestling Partner!”

  1. She loved you….thank you for your support and being there for her for all these years. She was proud to have “raised a bishop” ;-). I too will miss the wrestling!

  2. Brian – this is really a kind and beautiful and truthful remembrance of your sparring partner. I’m forwarding this to pastor whose congregation will be edified by your comments. A healthy church knows how to spar well, and an unhealthy one does not.

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