Have you ever looked at someone’s social media profile photo and tried to square it with the person you know? I’m not counting your friend who uses a picture of their dog. That’s fodder for another topic. I get it though. I’m not going to post what I look like when I get up first thing in the morning either unless I’m going for comic effect. Also, there’s nothing wrong with presenting your best you to the world, but if your friends are really your friends they won’t require Photoshop filters to make your image palatable.
What about every other way you present yourself? In our interactions with each other, whether they’re brief or lengthy, online or in person, I believe there’s great value in being genuine. What’s on my mind when I say that is everyone at one time or another is going through some sort of personal struggle, and while it’s relatively easy for most of us to talk about the victories in our lives, the rough times can be more difficult to share. We may feel like being honest makes us weak, vulnerable, or guilty of oversharing. In our efforts to be admired and liked we may leave out what makes us most human, our struggles. In the process of sharing what you’re going through, your friend may have an insight that helps you. Also, they may be better able to relate to you by this newly opened line of communication. Because so often we’re going through similar issues it can help us solve our own problems by hearing about a friend’s. Finally, shared burdens are made lighter. Men especially are reticent to appear weak by actually talking about what’s going on in their lives, but we’re all afraid to reveal ourselves at times. Can we leap boundaries and talk too much about ourselves? Sure. Once again, social media, right? But within the confines of a trusted relationship, or towards opening a new one, there’s great value in being real. The irony regarding communication these days is that while there seems to be so much of it out there, we’re actually talking to each other less and less. Too often there seems to be the attitude that every conversation has to have a winner and a loser. I believe most of the time the best way to move myself and everyone I know forward is to talk a little and listen a lot.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

How can you bear a burden
if it can’t find the light of day?
How can words be spoken
if no one dares to say?
Tears won’t form a flood
if a friend helps stem the tide.
I pray you let me
share your struggles
as I hope you pray for mine.

©Joel Tipple 11/30/2019

(Please feel free to re-post this)

The Gravel Pile


There was once a very nice home at the end of the street in an average small city neighborhood. Where the house once stood there is now a small mountain of pebbles. None of the stones are larger than the end of your little finger. It stands as something of a warning to those who remember the couple who lived there, and sadness, like a blanket of fog, still lingers over it.

The man and woman who lived there once were happy, and looked forward to having a long peaceful life together, raising their family. They would pour their lives into each other and their children, and someday, they hoped, look upon this house as the place where their fondest memories had been.

One day, the man noticed his wife had a habit of dropping her wet towels on the floor of the bathroom. He told her it was a bad habit, and she should stop doing it. A pebble fell into the yard. But no one noticed. The man had a bad memory about some things, like taking out the trash. His wife told him she was tired of reminding him. Another pebble clicked onto the roof and startled the bird perched on the gutter. Other than the bird, no one saw it. As time went on, the list of things the couple disliked about each other grew. Each time a complaint was added without the compensation of love, the pile around the house grew. The couple didn’t stop to wonder where the pebbles were coming from. They only considered it something else to complain about, since outside maintenance was a duty they shared. In fact, it was an activity they once enjoyed doing together.

Eventually the neighbors noticed their friends’ property taking on the appearance of a construction dump site. The couple would fight their way into the house and fight their way out, through the gravel mounded up like snow drifts. But no one took the responsibility to clean it up, since that would be admitting it was his fault or her fault. Then, one night, when they couldn’t remember all the wonderful qualities they once admired in each other, only those things that were annoying, the decision to divorce was made. By now the pile of pebbles reached the eves of the house, but when the couple left for good, a small avalanche fell and covered what was left of it. The noise made everyone in the neighborhood who was home at the time step outside to gawk, but again, where the pebbles had come from that erased the home, no one knew.

After the home had been vacant for some time, a few neighbors were standing around near the gravel pile talking. The subject of whether the couple might ever reunite and move back came up. “I don’t think so,” one man said. “Why not?” said another. “It just all looks so heavy,” he replied. Then a woman at the edge of the group chimed in, “I don’t know. What if they just took away a little at a time?”

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18 ESV

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:8-9 ESV

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-2 The Message

© Joel Tipple