Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Abyss and The Shore

My mother and I are very different people, and primarily this difference is seen in the way we experience life. 
I am an abyss. Events, circumstances, and a few relationships are drawn down to impossible depths. It is nothing for me to camp out on a singular verse for months, even a year, pondering all that I think it means. Currently, I'm stuck on a bit from Job: 'In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.' (1:22) If I were to start writing about that I would never stop. It's haunting. Sometimes I just stop at 'In all this' and wonder.
My mother is a shore. Events, circumstances and many relationships are spread wide around her as sparkling gems of shells on the sand. Like a child racing along where the water meets the earth to retrieve the newly uncovered treasures, she flits though life. Her knowledge of things is so expansive that we have forever banned her from trivia games. She spreads like a horizon across the whole world.
When I was younger, this difference used to drive me absolutely nuts. It didn't occur to me until recently, when I had a daughter of my own who is completely different in her internal landscape than me, to consider that I likely drove her slightly nuts as well. For my part, I have trouble jumping from lily pad to lily pad at the speed of light which for all the world is how interacting with her sometimes seems to me. For her part, I'm sure it was slightly horrifying when her baby girl would hurl herself into something so deeply and I bet interacting with me was like watching a child dig an endless hole on the beach and never once look up at the ocean. 
Recently, she remarked to me that she was proud of us for having worked at it and gotten better in the way we relate to each other. I think the way we both did this was by appreciating the other and understanding that it was ok to be different. I learned to listen as she rattled off eighteen different topics of interest and would choose one to respond to at present and sometimes file another away for later. The rest I would let lap at my feet like the shore does. She learned to wait for me to emerge from whatever hole I was submerged in for despite shouting loud people tend to not hear you when they are under water. 
Perhaps you are a shore, or you are an abyss, and because the good Lord has a sense of humor whichever you are he will put the opposite in close proximity to you. Here are some things that I have learned that we can learn from each other, but keep in mind I'm an abyss so likely I will miss the many in presenting the few.
Shores experience so much more quantitatively than abysses that while likely most abysses have resigned themselves to missing some things for they want to stay focused on the current thing until they 'get' it, learning to let the shores in your life bring up things of interest can be invaluable. Find a nice, sturdy shelf in your soul and table the second, third, fourth and so on things they bring up for future introspection. 
It seems to me that shores primarily learn by experience and for that reason don't want to miss a thing. While a Shore's nature is not going to change, you do need to pause and slow down a bit when the big things are passing by. Otherwise it will be like that awful Adam Sandler movie where he fast forwarded through his whole life. Letting an Abyss slow you down and ponder sometimes can be a good thing. When they start losing you in their impossible depths just gently tell them so. Or change the subject like my mom does. We Abysses are familiar with the scared look of the person we are talking to when we are going to deep for them.
Abysses plum the depths of life like no other personality. We tend to be drawn to darkness, or at the least not bothered by it, which can be our greatest weakness. No matter what, no matter how deep we go, we have to keep our light on so we can navigate back up. And surfacing is always necessary. Plus, it's not a bad thing to take a gentle stroll on the beach before going on another deep sea dive. In fact, the fresh air, and a chat with a Shore, can be invaluable. 
Do not disparage the differences, if anything, encourage them and be strengthened by them. Abysses, remind yourselves that Shores are not just shallow people. They are as impossibly wide as you are impossibly deep. Shores, resist the urge to pass the Abysses by because you are exhausted from boredom while they sit on one blasted spot and ponder. It's what we do. 
Both of us, resist the urge to change the other and instead appreciate the other. Because we are both needed to show the love of Christ. "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how WIDE and long and high and DEEP is the love of Christ," (Ephesians 3:17b-18, emphasis mine.) See. Deep and wide. Just like we used to sing when we were kids. Abyss and Shore, complete with each other.

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