Monday, April 23, 2012

It's All About Relationships

There has been a theme in my life in the past several months. Anyone lucky (?) enough to hear me talk about the problems in the world knows that I always come back to the same solution. I don't intend for things to always turn this way, but it just seems that if people would listen to my advice, the world would be a better place.

That sounds awfully vain. I know. But I am not suggesting something new, even though it might feel radical to some. This idea is biblical and where it is practiced, life improves for everyone (but maybe not before it gets a little uglier).

For me, it's all about relationships. I honestly feel that, if we are willing to engage in honest communication and let the messiness of life spill out of and into us, then so many things would be better in life.

But, what do I mean by "let the messiness of life spill out of and into us"? Good question.

What I mean is, if I am willing to be real with other people and not be scared to get into their messiness, then we'd be in relationship together. And it goes both ways, I have to be real about my struggles and my challenges too.

For example, how is it that we can have churches in America where probably 50% of the people aren't even saved? I'm not talking about those new churches that are genuinely attracting the lost. I'm referring to people who have grown up in church their whole lives, dutifully come to church each week, and then walk out the exact same person they walked in as, week after week after week after week. No amount of music or preaching is ever going to change them.

However, if we were willing to truly be in relationship with these people, and be willing to engage them beyond the 3 hours of "church" on Sunday morning, we might see that they are trying to fill their "god sized hole" with all the wrong things - academics, career, family, community service, exercise, etc... And then, if we are in relationship with them, we can show them how those things are not bad, but that they will never be able to complete them as a human being.

Or consider this example... an unwed girl gets pregnant and the father definitely wants nothing to do with her or their baby. Which serves her better - a picket line at her local abortion clinic or real people who commit to helping her find ways to keep and support her new family? Are we willing to let her come and live with us when her boyfriend/parents kick her out? Are we willing to invite her messiness into our neat world that may already be running smoothly?

One final example... and this one is closer to home than any of the others. What about the moms of young children who aren't sure if anyone else even knows what their days are like. Pick up toys. Wash the dishes. Sweep cheerios. Read "Pokey, Little Puppy" for the hundredth time today. If that mom comes into our church and she is ignored by the other women, she is going to feel hurt. I've been in that position. New to town, no friends, new church. The women who had been there for years looked right past me. Eventually, one person made an effort and that effort made a world of difference.

I could go on and on, as I am sure some of you could too. The lack of genuine community and relationships in the current American culture is abysmal. The fact that it is just as bad within our churches is inexcusable.

My challenge right now is to find other people to be "in relationship" with, to make sure I am putting feet to my idea that life is best lived when we "let the messiness of life spill out of and into us." Are you willing to get real and honest with another person? Will you accept this challenge with me?

7 comments:

  1. I am! If only our messiness lived closer to each other so it wasn't a 40 minute drive for each of us.

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    1. You are one of my examples of how to do this Karissa! We'll just have to let Twitter, text messages, phone calls, and Facebook fill in during the times between our visits!

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  2. LOVE!

    Embrace the mess. Even when it's not the "popular" thing to do.

    Sometimes letting the messiness spill will "cost" us dearly...like getting let go of from a JOB....or knowing people are talking about you in a not-so-nice way....or losing the popularity contest at church...

    it's all so worth it.

    Bring on the mess.

    and I've said it a lot...but here's a public affirmation..I love you and I admire you. Thankful for our friendship.

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    1. Thank you for that Ida. You are another of my examples of how to do this, because I have seen your family truly count the cost of embracing the mess. And you've done it gracefully without bitterness, continuing to seek the messiness that brings us closer to relationship with one another and with our heavenly Father.

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  3. Amen girlfriend! I have had so many walk out on me as things got messy in my life, marriage, family. Relationships are where its at! We all need each other, that's why we are here. So many in churches are so worried about "following the rules" that they look right past the one thing that is most important to Jesus....loving others! XXOO

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    1. Yes! Those pesky rule followers! And what about the unwritten rules that say if you are one of the "popular ones" you can't talk to the rest of us?

      Funny story here (and some honesty if you don't mind)... you broke my idea about how pretty girls act. I made assumptions about you based on how you look (based on my own experiences & insecurities) and feel sad that I missed out on your friendship the first year I knew you. Because you know how to reach out to people and aren't nearly as unapproachable as I expected you to be!

      I hope that makes sense to you and that you see it was born out of my reluctance to be "in relationship" and not anything you did. I'm really trying to step up and live out what I wrote up there, which means I have to acknowledge my failures in this area.

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    2. You know Jenn, I missed out on many friendships for this very reason. That stereotype started for me in high school and has followed me ever since. It breaks my heart. It makes me even more intentional now to talk to everyone, and show them who I really am! XXOO

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