10 Lessons I've Learned About Relationships
We are home from our eleventh summer at camp. This year, we brought 40 neighborhood kiddos, and my two older kids were campers too. I tried to convince them to put Zay Zay in a cabin, but they weren't going for it, so he hung out with me all week.
Camp Grace is where our journey into a whole different life started, and I was reminded this week of why. I thought I'd share with you 10 lessons I have learned about why relationships matter, drawing us closer to Jesus and making our hearts more like His.
1. Some things are far more important than obedience and acquiescence, like belonging and hope. It can be easy to allow ourselves to be sidetracked (with our own kids or anyone who we are "in charge of" at work/school etc), by trying to manage behavior. But behavior management will never lead us to Jesus. Instead, we will find ourselves frustrated and easily succumb to the temptation to give up on someone. And trust me when I tell you that people, especially kids, know when they have been given up on.
2. The times we get pushed away most harshly, are usually the times that person needs us most. Proximity to pain and an unrelenting willingness to stay present through the hardest moments will transform people on both sides of the equation.
3. We are called love our neighbor, not save them. We must never stop seeing Jesus in the face of the ones we serve and walk with, and never fool ourselves into playing the role of Jesus ourselves.
4. Occasionally, we must push past exhausted to find deeper wells of grace. Most often, I notice what is missing when I have no water to draw up in the bucket when it gets lowered to my heart. Because what is down in the well always comes up in the bucket. So those times when I snap where a gentle rebuke is needed, or when I find myself not just exhausted but depleted, I know that I have been primarily leaning on my own abilities to love and serve rather than drawing from the deeper well of grace available in Jesus.
5. Two-year-olds are exhausting versions of Jesus, teaching us valuable skills of patience and laughter through tears. Enough said.
6. Relationships make the complicated issues simple, and the simple things complex. The answer to the question of "what to do" in relationships gets simpler: love and extend grace. In relationships, however, you will also find far fewer easy answers. Resist the simple narrative.
7. Joy and tears, homesickness and kinship walk hand in hand through ordinary days, if only we have the patience and grace to wait for them.
8. If we find following Jesus to be an easy path, it’s possible we aren’t actually following him. His easy yoke doesn’t mean carrying a cross isn’t painful. I just get more convinced the farther into a life on the margins I get that often times the right choice is the harder one.
9. Alongside and together is always better than walking before or behind. My son and the son of one of the girls in our mom's group were in the same cabin this week, and they were inseparable. Real friendship that transcends boundaries will change the world, I believe.
10. The most beautiful relationships are symbiotic. If you stay put long enough to listen and learn, you will have opportunities not only to serve but to be served. You will receive and give, take and offer.