Relationships– A Mess Worth Making (and a book worth reading)

God designed us to live in community.

Our pastor said this on Sunday.

Once again…another arrow from God pointing me to acknowledge the importance of relationships.

In their book, Relationships…A Mess Worth Making, Paul Tripp and Timothy Lane describe the two extremes we often live in when it comes to relationships.

On one end–
Isolation.
“I want to be safe.”

On the other end–
Immersion.
“I need you in order to live.”

Tripp and Lane write:  “We live in this tension between self-protective isolation and the dream for meaningful relationships…every relational decision we make is moving us in one of these directions.  We are tempted to make a relationship either less or more than it was intended to be.”

For most of my life, I’ve leaned towards the immersion end of the spectrum.
I enjoy people and value relationships–
Sometimes placing a higher value on them, a higher expectation on them,
than God designed them to carry.

But in the past two years–I’ve found myself moving toward the other end.
In some ways, this is a good balancing out.
God reminding me that He can meet my needs…
And that anything taking His rightful place in my life,
is an idol.

As Tripp and Lane explain…

Isolationists conclude that relationships are too difficult, they are not necessary and the effort is not worth it. (“I don’t need relationships to be me.”)  On the other hand, immersionists are convinced that relationships are everything. (“Without relationships, I am nobody.”)

Lately though, I’ve probably moved too far in the direction of isolationism.
In the last few years, we’ve had many weighty transitions–two new babies added to our other three kiddos, 5 adoption matches with 2 finalized adoptions, school changes, homeschooling added, my husband’s long work hours, discovered learning disabilities, a child’s death–and more and more I’ve felt my heart and energy is fairly consumed by just keeping up with the needs and relationships within our own family (and a few very close friendships that are like family to me).  It has been more difficult to feel connected at church because I’ve had to pull back from many involvements and I know I’ve invested much less in outside relationships than I would have in the past.

In one sense, this is just a season of life.  A time when God is calling us to pull close together as a family.  And those relationships are precious to me. Our family relationships are a priority.  And the handful of friendships that I do invest in, play a crucial role in my life.

But I think God knew I needed to read this book.
I was starting to believe the lie that relationships should be easy, that they shouldn’t take work.
I was starting to think that I didn’t need to pursue community.
But the reality is–God uses our relationships with others to change us, to rescue us from ourselves and to point us to our need for the grace found in Christ.

The Bible assumes that
relationships this side of eternity
will be messy and (will) require a lot of work.
Every painful thing
we experience in relationships is
meant to remind us of our need for God.
You can’t take the
gospel seriously and not take
your relationships seriously.
Conflict with others is one of God’s
mysterious, counterintuitive ways of
rescuing us from ourselves.
The problem with relationships is
that they all take place right smack-dab
in the middle of something, and
that something is the story of redemption.
~Tripp/Lane  
The story of redemption…
God’s path to relationship.
With Him.
And with others.
I want to remember that relationships are a mess worth making.
And that whether it’s in marriage, friendships, the church family or with our children….
Relationships take work.
They involve a cost.
But God designed us to live in community and to become more like Christ through our relationships with others.
I’m so thankful for the relationships He has placed in my life.
And for my relationship with Him.
*And I highly recommend this book.

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