Much of what we do in life is intentional. We move into specific areas because it has great schools. We eat organic because it’s s/to be healthier and better for you. Although can you say chocolate covered almonds are better for you? We discipline our kids to teach them right from wrong. I’m convinced that if you could see lines connecting our thoughts to our actions it would look like a chaotic mess tangled cords that can never be straightened. You know, like when you look behind your television. A mess. It isn’t intentional. We don’t try to get the cords all wrapped up in each other. However, without fail, it happens.
Showing love can be simple and complicated all at the same time. Why? Because it involves clear communication between two people. Clear has never been my forte. For example, yesterday, I was in a face to face conversation with my friend about a sudden change of plans. As she explained her reasoning, I showed my immediate disapproval by rolling my eyes and throwing my hands up in the air. Even writing it seems a bit harsh. My body showed my disappointment. In that brief minute of processing her situation, her response to said situation, and her feelings, my emotions took over. It seized my being eliciting a response that sent the wrong message. It surely wasn’t a loving message at all.
My mind, however, was thinking something totally different. Again, in a matter of a minute my life experiences, current spiritual journey, and the relationship with this person wanted to say much more than I actually did. It wanted to shout about opportunity, purpose, and destiny. By responding instead of waiting, I lost the ability to impact her heart. I wanted to say, I believe in her ability to be an atmosphere changer – a light bearer. That is what she has been called to do. But she has to be out there for people to see how to be different. Not because she has a point to prove, but because we learn through relationships how to love and show our love better. In all fairness to her, her response to the situation was normal. Anyone in her shoes would have wanted to respond the same way. However, that isn’t who she is. She is better than that. She is nothing close to normal. She carries the power and heart to bring people into seeing a better way to live and respond to those around them. Instead, I felt like she would be closing the door on a chance to bring along true change all because of an offense.
My mind was saying to her, “ No. No. this is your chance to show love even though you are offended. To show your children how to stand for what’s right, even when it hurts a little.” My body said a frustrated and heartless, “Whatever!” So complicated. Somehow, even in my emotional response, I didn’t loose a friend. I haven’t asked for forgiveness for my tantrum. Maybe I should. I’m glad that our relationship is much deeper than one emotional rant. We spur each other on by challenging each other to be better. To be better mom’s, to think outside the box, to check ourselves. In other words, to be world changers. Good friendships do this. They help you move towards something greater.
At the end of the day, the one thing that makes the messiness of life beautiful is love. Relationships with friends, family, and even acquaintances teach us how to love better. Even the most insignificant relationship have meaning and can breathe life. I stood behind a woman in the grocery store just today as she told a young, recent high school graduate how she just couldn’t leave to go off to college. She had to stay. Her smile was priceless. And it blessed me thinking how it must have blessed the young check out clerk to feel noticed, appreciated; loved. They spoke to each other as if they were old friends. The fact that it was an older white woman and a young African-American girl made it even more satisfying.
I’m proud to say that my friend attended her event (as if I won or something). I am proud of her because she didn’t allow the offense to control her decision. Yea Jesus! She chose to see past it, hopefully, forgive the instigator, and do something that in turn blessed both her and her family. Just by being present, she was a part of turning something meant for evil into something good.
In the days ahead, take the time to reflect on your relationships and be thankful for the mess. When I glance behind my TV, I am thankful that somehow, those connections still work. What would life be like without relationships? Pretty lonely if I had to guess. In those acquaintance relationships, embrace the opportunity to display kindness and love. We take for granted the weight of small actions and kind words. Find opportunities in the significant relationship to say the tough things that help someone be better. And more importantly, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and even slower to react. It says so somewhere in the Bible anyway. I will take two doses of that advice and let it marinate until we meet again.