Life is full of ups, downs and all arounds, isn't it? Some days we feel we can conquer the world and other days it's all we can do to put one foot in front of the other and stagger through until it's time to go to bed again. Sometimes, I wonder what makes it worth the effort on those days. I wonder for only a minute before I remember what makes it worthwhile -- People. My people. My family and my friends. And above all, for me, God.
Forming and sustaining relationships is, to my mind, the reason for life. Nothing else matters as much as the relationships in our lives. Mark 8:36 says "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul". What fills our soul more than the people in our lives? So, to me, this verse means, what good is it if I make a lot of money, have fame or possess everything I ever wanted if I gain those things at the expense of my people.
I don't have thousands, or even hundreds of friends. Yes, I know a lot of people, but I can count on a couple of hands and feet the number of people who, when I think of the word friend, pop into my head. These are people who have been through those ups, downs and all arounds I spoke of earlier with me. They've seen me at my worst and reveled with me at my best moments. They would go to bat for me, no questions asked, and I them. I cherish them.
Family is always a different story than friendships. We don't get to choose our family, beyond the choice of spouse, of course, so the complexity of those relationships can be a challenge. Especially the relationships with those to whom we have given birth. The most challenging time, in dealing with our offspring, is when they are teenagers. They push us away, yet pull us in all at once and they can drag us down faster than any other person on the planet. It's a rough time for teen, as well as parent. They aren't sure from one day, no, make that one minute to the next, whether they love us, hate us, need us or just want us to disappear off the face of the earth. Parenting a teen is not for the faint of heart. They have the confusing tantrum behavior of a toddler, all wrapped up in the body of an almost-adult, and they possess reasoning skills that are processed solely by the not-fully-connected-to-reality frontal lobe of their brain. It can be exhausting and personally deflating.
I admit it-- I have a hard time not taking their disruptive behavior personally. I've always worn my emotions on my shirt sleeve in my relationships, and dealing with my teens is no different. Whoever coined the phrase "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" was a big, fat liar, who obviously never parented a teenager. Their words to hurt and, at times, the most hurtful part is, the teen knows this, and it's precisely why they use those hurtful words.
However hurtful they are, these relationships still must be nurtured. There will come a day when they are (please, Lord, hurry) grown and the benefits of sticking by them will be reaped. God promises us that as we sow, we will reap, and I'm trusting in that promise.
I'm also trusting in God's promise that he will never leave or dessert me. My relationship with Him is the most important in my life, and yet, am I spending enough time nurturing and growing this bond? If I'm being honest, lately, I would say, no. I've been resting on my laurels; knowing He's there, and yet not doing anything about it. I've been coasting.
So, while I am on this journey of self-actualization, I have to put some time in to push myself to the next level of intimacy in my relationship to God. I believe this is a key point, which will allow my other relationships to fall into place. I believe it will allow me to see those who trouble me through God's eyes. In addition, I will be able to full understand that my problems, though overwhelming to me, are not beyond the scope of God's expertise. As I move forward, I will remind myself that relationships are what make my life worth living, and treat those relationships like the lifeline that they represent. I have to, otherwise I won't get any better. Life won't get any better. And it needs to get better.
PS: I've lost 3 lbs since last week!