Constructive Criticism

Here’s the best conversation I’ve had in 20 years- with a friend I lovingly call “Handsome Johnny,” because that was his nickname at the pub where we worked in Portland. The setup is that he has been abundant with his compliments all along, and I needed to TELL him how much they meant. Here is what happened.

Leslie: I just wanted to express my deep gratitude for you. You make me believe in myself when I can’t.

Handsome Johnny: Well, you deserve good things. You’re awesome, and frankly, the most Christian Christian I’ve ever met. You actually mirror what the gospel said; love, tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness. All these things are so easily cast aside by people who claim to ascribe to these principals on a daily basis. It’s sad, really truly heartbreaking. I think the reason people are distancing themselves from the church is because there are too many Phelps and Robertsons and not enough Lanagans. But, despite my lack of faith, or perhaps because of it, I understand the absolute necessity of it in society. But ONLY when executed properly, as you do. It’s not about control, or hate, or doctrine. THAT is what people forget, I think. Or not, my finger is so off the pulse of society.

I am human. I fall short of these ideals all the time, particularly when I am angry. But the reason I do this, the only reason, is that people can see me in real time. They can learn from my mistakes in real time. I am human enough to admit that I don’t know everything, that my ego is too big for my rat dog body, and I need help from other people to get along in society even though I try my dead level best to isolate so much you’ll forget I’m here.

But then there are these moments, like the one here, where I realize that being human and doing things wrong is just life. My story is no worse or no better than anyone else’s… the only thing that makes it distinct is that it’s mine.

And every time I get feedback, I realize that’s not even true. My words are mine alone to reflect upon and better myself, but they matter to other people. After it leaves my body, it becomes a slice of time that other people grab, because maybe that slice of time matches up with theirs.

We’re all on the journey. Thanks be to God for showing me through this web site how far I’ve come, and how far I still have to go.

And most of all, Fanagans, thank you for walking this path with me. Knowing that you listen MATTERS TO ME. I don’t feel alone, ever. You are the ones for whom I would gladly get a towel and some water to wash your feet, even though it’s kind of gross.


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