Every good story needs relationships. What story, be it novel, movie, short, doesn’t have the protagonist relating with other characters? It just doesn’t happen. Likewise, we need people in our own stories. We need people to journey alongside us. However, this doesn’t just happen. It takes a little work and that’s precisely what we’re talking about here. We need people in our lives, but the ones worth keeping around don’t take too much to achieve that.

“I thought relationships were supposed to be easy.” Um, no. At the same time, they’re not supposed to take a degree in rocket science either. Instead, they lie somewhere in the vast middle ground. The reason why they cannot be easy is because relationships are between broken people. You may take offense to this, but that’s only because this is a fact that you need to come to terms with and the sooner the better.

We’re all broken in our own ways. Yes, this is quite true. Fight it as you will, know that I tried and lost. Being broken isn’t a status like leprosy in the ancient world. Brokenness is merely a product of life on this earth. No one is perfect, thus we all perpetuate our imperfection, our brokenness. When broken meets broken, things are bound to get messy.

Let’s dive into the mess. Alright, so I’ve begun to paint a dingy picture of relationships, but only to temper our expectations here. We need to dive in because while relationships are messy and will leave us hurting deeply at times, we need them because of the great reward that renders the pain inconsequential. We risk who we are in relationships (whether you realize it or not), but that is only because deep down we know the reward outweighs the cost. Therefore, it only makes sense to fight for this wager of self.

It isn’t about you. You’d think I’d know this by now, but this past weekend was a wakeup call for me. Relationship teaches us to take ourselves a little less seriously and kicks out the legs of the stool we’re balancing on known as pride. We are no more important than the other in this relationship and it’s our responsibility and privilege to show this person that we understand that fact. We get the honor of experiencing the joy in serving, through act, word, emotion, the other person in each relationship. That God would grant us this present is a beautiful picture of grace.

Use words. Pick up the phone, write a card or letter, sit down and have a conversation. What this looks like specifically depends on a few factors like distance, but bottom line is relationships need communication to exist, let alone grow. Initiate that and keep it going regularly. How can you care for someone whom you don’t know? Likewise, they can’t care for you without this regular contact. Do it for them, but also know you’re doing it for yourself as well. You’d be surprised how appreciated a call can be.

Go out of your way. Remember, we’re not that important and neither is our schedule. I’m not talking about anything major here. In fact, relationships are about the little things, so small actions that show care are what I mean. Whether that’s bringing said person a latte during a long day or a rock that reminds them of a better time in their/your collective life, it doesn’t matter but do something. To you it may seem trivial, but I assure you it is not to them. It wouldn’t be to you if the shoe were on the other foot. Plus, you’ve now put yourself in the 99.999% in this person’s world, because the rest of the world is too busy. Don’t be the rest of the world.

Initiate. If you don’t, who will? I know, you can’t be the only one giving in the relationship, but the opposite can’t be true either. Give a little. You’ll be given far more in the exchange than you gave up and really, what are you giving up to begin with? It doesn’t necessarily matter what, but it shows that you care and they matter to you. And who doesn’t want to matter to someone? It isn’t giving them importance, though. Instead, it is merely recognizing the importance intrinsically carried by God’s most prized creation.

Stories don’t function without relationships and neither do lives. Relationships aren’t easy, in fact they’re highly messy, but they are possibly the most rewarding aspect of living on this earth. However, to be in relationship well, it takes work, but not the work of slaying dragons. No, relationships take the work of water wearing through rock. Slowly, steadily we drip away at the rock not seeing the immediate impact, but soon enough we have created a great river. Baby steps, strung together, even can make a journey. In the process, we recognize the other’s intrinsic value imputed by the Creator, but also have it recognized within ourselves and that in turn glorifies God, Himself. Now look at your story. Where are the other characters? Every story needs relationships.