If you were to meet me today, you might not believe that up until three years ago, I was one of the quieter individuals you’ve ever met. It took me being thrust into the wilderness of Yellowstone for ten weeks to understand that I absolutely loved people and got energy from deep conversation that lasted into the wee hours of the morning in spite of an early workday. It was this summer experience that began my exploration into the realm of deeper friendships and what it looked like to actually be a friend.
No, it has not been an easy journey as I’m here today and looking back, most of the friendships that I’ve had are recounted by the hurt I endured as a result of each friendship. I know I’m not the most consistent person on earth, but the times when I did make efforts in these relationships, those efforts were met with indifference and disinterest. Yet, I felt it my duty as a friend to ice the pain and quietly endure as if answering some nobler calling.
I don’t know what your thoughts are about what I’ve just revealed, but in reading over it, I feel sad and angry. These reactions spring forth because I’m realizing that through my gross misperception of relationships, I’ve wasted lots of opportunities at meaningful relationships and growth.
I spent time yesterday listening again to the sermon from Reston Bible Church and I’ve immersed myself in Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and it struck me how blatantly wrong my ideas of relationship truly are.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24,25)
Let’s face it, we’re all trying to live the best life we can and spread the most love possible. If our lives are stories in which we are the protagonist, being part of the greater Story, we need inciting incidents to advance the plot. We need friendships to push us out of our comfort zones to which we cannot return, so that we must take on risk for the purpose of moving forward in pursuing our natural tendency of restoring the comfort in our lives.
In other words, growth happens in community. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another,” from Proverbs 27:17 serves to further this point. In this exchange, both pieces of iron are sharpened. Growth in relationship therefore must be mutual.
For all this to happen, two things must be true of ourselves. First of all, we have to be genuinely looking to roll up our sleeves and immerse ourselves in one another’s lives. We cannot give into the inevitable resistance faced when turning a worthwhile thought or idea into action.
For growth to happen in relationship, we must also be vulnerable. In its bilateral nature, a relationship requires both people to trust and allow each other into the innermost parts of our beings. Without this depth, how can we spur one another on to real adventure? If we do not bear our souls in relationship, then we do not allow the other to share in our pursuits that could potentially end up risking everything we are.
So you say your life is boring? I know mine has been for a long time, but I recently learned something important. It’s my own ever-loving fault! Our lives are only as interesting as our pursuits. So, if life seems boring to you, get up and do something about it. God has written a beautiful story for you in the context of His Story. It is up to you to actively seek out that story for your life. It’s up to you to take on the risk and trust in the Lord that the reward will be more than worth it.
You are your own protagonist, but like every good story, you need support. You cannot do it on your own and neither can anyone else. Therefore, go and find that support and be that support for others. Only then can we all live lives worthy of our calling in Christ.