In our rushed and often chaotic world, it’s easy to let relationships slide. At least, this is the case for me. I can become so wrapped up in my schedule and weekly to-do list, I begin to lose sight of my need for connection. I begin to take those relationships for granted, thinking I’ll have more time tomorrow, or the day after that, or perhaps next week or next month.
I’ve learned, to build deep, lasting relationship, I must be intentional and embrace inconvenience.
We moved around a lot when our daughter was young, which resulted in numerous friendships made then lost. While she grieved every transition, her sorrow increased tenfold when we moved to Omaha her sophomore year in high school. You see, she’d grown especially close to one girl in particular. The child had spent many nights at our house and had even accompanied us on a few family vacations. As a result, what began as awkward interactions at recess eventually morphed into a close sisterhood.
As you can imagine, when we told the girls my husband was being transferred, both were distraught. My heart ached for them as well, but I assured them that their relationship could withstand the distance, if they chose. However, they would have to work harder at staying connected. They’d have to embrace inconvenience, whether that meant long phone calls or car rides. They would also need to trade many of their spontaneous moments for intentional plans, scheduling visits weeks if not months in advance.
I knew, from having moved myself, this wouldn’t be easy, but I knew their efforts would be worth it. Or perhaps to rephrase, I understood the ache of friendships not built and held. Years prior, after having moved numerous times, I grew rather relationally lazy. Initially, I stayed so busy, this didn’t feel like a big deal. But then, I went through a painful season and found myself largely alone. And I realized I’d placed myself in that position. Always so focused on that next task, I’d “convenienced” myself into shallow relationships.
We know, at least in theory, the value of every intentional, inconvenient moment invested. But sometimes the busyness of life can make us forget, at least temporarily, until a crisis hits. Then we realize, maybe at a depth we hadn’t before, that we truly weren’t meant to go through life alone. When circumstances feel frightening and painful, we all need an “Elizabeth” we can turn to. Someone who gets it, whatever it is, or at least, if they can’t understand our particular struggle, who get us.
When we read about Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, the brief page space makes it appear as if this older woman lived a mere afternoon’s walk away. But that’s not the case. Scripture tells us young Mary, who lived in Nazareth, traveled to the Judean hills, some 80 miles, most likely on foot, to see her relative. Obviously, this took effort and perseverance. Would you have trekked such a long distance to seek support? Or might you have talked yourself out of going with each progressive step?
Although the more important question for us all, myself included, is this: What distance (literal or figurative) are we willing to travel today to form the connections our hearts need and crave? Whenever we’re tempted to remain holed up in our homes or offices, chained to our computers, may we reflect on Mary’s example, remembering that deep relationships require intentionality and, at times, a willingness to be inconvenienced.
For those following the chronological Bible reading plan …
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