I have really been missing my friend Lois lately. She was old enough to be my grandmother, but we never considered our age difference. We simply loved each other, laughed a lot, and had great conversations about important, deep matters. I've encountered a tricky situation recently. One that no matter what I do, or don't do, it won't seem to resolve itself.
I have daydreamed about what discussing this issue with Lois would sound like. What questions would she ask? What advice would she offer?
Last week I got a text from another dear friend who writes an advice column. "I have a favor to ask. No questions were submitted this week. Do you have a question you could submit?" I immediately thought of the scenario I wanted Lois's help with, typed up my question, and sent it to my friend.
This columnist has a knack for writing thoughtful responses to often times tricky situations. I read every column knowing that I will read grace in action, measured yet firm responses to people's questions, worries, and quandaries. I was excited to pose the question and to read what advice she had for me.
She did not disappoint. The next day her column was delivered to my email inbox. I read her words and was stunned. In the midst of her beautiful prose and thoughtful contemplation, she included these words: "To thine own self be true." This was Lois's favorite phrase. She used it all the time.
I couldn't believe it. I knew instantly that God, Spirit, Universe, call it what you want, had given me what I had been seeking through another friend. It was marvelous and mysterious, comforting and calming. Of course, that's what Lois would have told me. To thine own self be true.
The serendipity was undeniable. I called my friend. I had to tell her this story, how uncanny it was that she used the exact phrase that Lois would have used. We gushed about our wonder and awe and how happy we were that we both had a special part to play in this particular story.
I've been struggling lately with the intersection where organized religion and spiritual encounters meet. I feel disillusioned by the loud voices that get the most air time. The voices that do not articulate my experience of God, faith, and wisdom. I've pushed against feeling misrepresented and wondered how to navigate that uncomfortable territory.
Finding Lois's beautiful phrase in another friend's approach to my problem confirmed that the struggle I'm having is not with God, but with the man-made elements to approaching and knowing God. As I articulated all of this to my friend, I heard myself say, "I may be confused by a lot of things, but one thing I know is that God and me, we're okay."
Okay? With the gift of Lois's words handed to me, I'd say I'm more than okay. I trust that the situation will sort itself out in its own time and that my responsibility to it is more patience, more kindness, and leaning into the discomfort and avoiding the inclination to go out of my way to "make it better." And as far as my doubts go, I know I'm in good hands. God can handle things while I make my way through my doubts.
I'm going to be true to myself and trust that everything will fall in place.
Thank you Lois and M.