“The kingdom we serve is one of love, relationship and intimacy. We’re not made for each other, but we’re certainly made to share life with each other.” – Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing.
Being relational – with my family, with my friends, at work, at church. How does one do this and do it well? This is something that I have been thinking about a great deal lately. Because over the years my relational pendulum has swung back and forth from one extreme to the other at different times. From being purposefully isolated and alone to spending more of my waking hours around others than my introverted nature can really handle.
Right now, I am once again feeling spread a little too thin relationally. So many people (wonderful, great, life-giving people) that I want to connect with and so little time. So many others with whom I want to pour the love of God and the hope of the gospel into their broken lives and yet there are only so many hours in a day.
I heard part of an interview recently on the Christian radio station by some famous author (I never did quite catch his name though) who said that he often says, “NO,” to people wanting to go out to lunch with him. He said he tells them that if he grabbed lunch with everyone asked him, he soon wouldn’t be the kind of person you wanted to grab lunch with anymore! He went on to say that he had to intentionally guard his time with God, his family and his inner circle of friends in order to be filled up enough himself that he had anything to give back out through his writing and speaking engagements.
Oh, how this concept resonated with me and I am still thinking about it days later. Because I feel that I am on the other side of this right now. I desire to be around others and meet up with everyone who wants to get together but it seems to be at the expense of my own time with God right now. And so, I’m feeling depleted and drained and stretched too thin relationally. (And, as I said before, this comes as quite a difference from where I was 5+ years ago.)
So what is the answer here? Holley Gerth also says in her book, You’re Already Amazing, “…wanting other people in your life isn’t weakness. Instead it’s a reflection that you are created by a God who is inherently relational. Look at the lengths he’s gone to just to have a relationship with you.” I think this helps me to better realize that my desire to connect well with others is good, natural and God-given. So, maybe if I have to be on one side or the other in all this it might not be a bad thing to be feeling the way I am right now.
And yet, I also so need to find a healthy balance for myself between finding time to spend alone with God and spending time with other people. For He does call us into relationship from the very beginning of time. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2) And in Genesis 2:18 it says, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
I know we are called to, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27-28) Maybe there will always be tension for me between the two of these things as I try to live them both out well? One thing I do know is that as I wrestle with how much time I personally need to spend in relationship with God versus how much time I spend relating to others, I can meditate on the following verse:
“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)