Friday, June 5, 2009

Relationships--Who Needs Them?

Have you ever felt like God has disappeared? I know I have. That's why I was drawn to this great little book by Shane Stanford called, "When God Disappears." Each chapter focuses on an encounter in the life of Jesus. The chapter I'm reading today has hit me particularly hard. It's the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I've read that story a million times, but Shane Stanford brings out a whole new perspective. He suggests that the miracle, the raising of Lazarus is not the main point of this passage. In fact, he says, "Lazarus being raised from the dead may not even be in the top three reasons to take note of what happens here." Wow. So what is the point of this encounter?

Stanford zeros in on relationships. Here's what really got my attention in this chapter. "Jesus always goes to the heart of what we dread in this world. We dread being alone, so we make friends. We dread being hurt, so we don't make friends. We dread feeling betrayed, so we don't let our real selves show. We dread loss, so we choose not to love." Oh, how I relate to that! I am a people person, an extreme extrovert. I love being with people. But I have also been hurt. I have experienced major loss--mainly in the death of my 15-year-old daughter. I am also a sinful human being and I don't always treat people well. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier if I just didn't get involved in other peoples' lives.

Even though it is sometimes tempting to withdraw, to isolate myself, I can't. I need people in my life. But I get hurt. People I love die. I blow it in my relationships. So if I can't withdraw, my next tendency is to stay very shallow. Sometimes the shallow life is a great place to be! I used to just bounce my way obliviously through life, happy as a clam, dealing with nothing that threatened to burst my little bubble. But eventually, despite my attempts to avoid it, my bubble got obliterated. I had no choice but to deal with my "stuff." It felt like God had disappeared, and I had to dig really deep to find Him again. I can still tend to live on the shallow side of life, but I have learned that I can't stay there. I have to take the time to dig deep.

As I said in one of my earlier posts, motherhood has potential for the greatest joy we'll ever experience. It also has the potential to hand us pain so deep that we may think we can't survive it. I'm thinking all our relationships offer those two potentials as well. So just because they could cause pain, should we avoid them? Should we choose to keep them shallow and never reveal our true selves?

I offer a resounding NO! Shane Stanford would join in as well. He has experienced great disappointments and pain in his life, but would he choose to never have lived it? No. What about Jesus? Did he experience hurt, loss and disappointment in His relationships? Ha! Have you read the gospels lately? If so, you know He did. But out of all the ways he could have saved the world, He CHOSE to come and live in relationship with us. He CHOSE to make himself vulnerable.

So, even though I may get hurt--no, I will get hurt. Even though I will hurt someone else. Even though I will experience loss, I choose to live in relationship. I choose to let my real self be known. I choose to love.

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I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!

About Me

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I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother raising her granddaughter. I am blessed with incredible family and friends. I love working for my church and serving on our Women's Ministry Team. I especially want to reach the women who wear their "Everything's fine" smiles on Sunday, but go home to deal with tough real-life issues throughout the week.