Like it or not, our lives revolve around relationships—our relationship with God, with our families and friends, with our significant others, and even our coworkers. These relationships stand ready on the tips of our tongues: they’re what we talk about. They’re where our minds go when they should be on the task at hand. They’re what we think about before we fall asleep at night.
We think, dream and breathe relationships. And why shouldn’t we? At the base level, God created us as relational beings.
But what people don’t advertise as openly is that relationships are often frail. Relationships require a lot of work and a lot of time. And, sometimes, relationships hurt.
My best friend would have turned 23 on Oct. 1 had she not been in a fatal car accident three years ago. Obviously, I couldn’t call to wish her a happy birthday, so I settled for wearing her favorite color, purple, rereading our old letters and playing her favorite songs on repeat all day.
One of the biggest questions I tried to tackle after her death was, what’s the point? Why should I invest in others if there will always be the chance that they will leave me devastated and empty-handed?
Are earthly relationships worth the risk?
The short answer, I’ve learned over the years, is yes.
People need people. God did not create us to be self-sufficient, and that’s why it turns out so badly when we try to be.
Christ commands us to love others. What better way to show someone love than by investing time in his or her life?
Follow up with your friend about how the speech went that he was really nervous about. Make time to call your grandparents on the weekends. Reach out to your coworkers, even if it seems like you don’t have a single thing in common.
Relationships offer us the emotional support we need to thrive. Without them, we wouldn’t have anyone to revel in our excitement with us.
Likewise, we wouldn’t have anyone to sit with us after we answer the life-changing phone call we never expected. We wouldn’t have anyone to share our burdens with or to pray with us through our darkest trials.
Relationships require time and effort—they’re investments. Sometimes the investment turns out; sometimes you suffer great losses.
Entrusting your secrets with another person is hard, especially when you know how easy it can be to gossip. Communicating clearly is hard.
Swallowing your pride and admitting you were wrong? That’s hard.
It’s hard when you offer your heart to someone, only to have it returned to you because it wasn’t the right fit after all. It’s hard mapping out your life around someone else’s, and then watching her casket lowered into the ground.
Essentially, opening your heart to others can be risky. But should this universal truth give us license to devote our time to frivolous pursuits that won’t matter in 10 years, let alone in eternity? Or should we still strive to pour our time into others, despite the potential cost?
That question is answered clearly in I John 4:7: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God.”