Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Are relationships even worth it?

I don't mind getting messy.  I can function happily when my hands are covered up to my elbows in flour and bread dough.  Finger painting used to be one of my favorite activities and there is nothing that makes me smile like getting dirty when I plant my geraniums each summer. 

The thing that makes it fun is that I know the outcome.  I eagerly await the intoxicating aroma of baking bread and the taste of melting butter spilling over the crusty edges of a fresh warm slice. There is such pride when I watch those tiny plants explode into balls of color by the fourth of July each summer and I have two framed masterpieces from my kids finger painting days. 

Relationships are not that easy.  I love to go deep with  I'm not great with staying at the small talk acquaintance level.  Perhaps it's a product of my days spent as a college recruiter, perhaps it's a subconscious nod to my realization of my own mortality, but I'm not the kind of friend who is satisfied to skim the surface.

I love to ask questions and I want to connect.  I love to go to work events with my husband and compare notes at the end of the night, without exception, I come away with layers of information that he was previously unaware of.  I fill him in on his co-workers divorces, children and childhoods.  Things surface that he was unaware of, not because he is not caring or compassionate or interested, he just does relationships differently. 

Going deep, however, is not always all it's cracked up to be and sometimes I wonder if Scott's approach would be easier.  As much I love getting messy in the kitchen and in the yard, I hate getting messy in relationships, and it's impossible to go deep without getting dirty. 

If I'm really honest, I don't love getting dirt under my fingernails and getting my shoes muddy.  The cleanup of the flour and sugar when I'm baking is not much fun either.  It's tiresome and tedious, it causes me to question why I don't just buy bread at Panera or stick to perennials instead of annuals in my pots and flower beds.  There is a time and a place for easy and convenient, but the pride that comes from something I invest in is hard to beat. 

The same is true in relationships.  The acquaintances in my life certainly can be fulfilling.  The fellow room mom's and the other parents I sit next to at baseball games sweeten the experience.  We are all there for a common cause and I enjoy the camaraderie of supporting our kids. Those relationships are necessary, but more of a quick fix.  They serve a purpose but rarely go beyond the event.  It's impossible for me to sustain my emotional health on only acquaintances, I'm not wired that way. 

God requires me to get messy.   Sometimes it's great, like those times when I'm hurting and I have girlfriends to call and carry me through the difficult heartaches and hurts.  Times like when my mother-in-law died and I was surrounded by love and kindness.  Moments when mothering is so overwhelming I want to submit my resignation and I'm covered with prayer and affirmations or days when I doubt my ability to even write this blog or stand behind a microphone and my friends shower me with more confidence than I can muster.
Those are the days when I welcome messy.

Then come the days when I wonder if it's worth it.  Days when I spread myself too thin and disappoint someone with my lack of compassion.  Times when I respond with 100% emotion and 0% thoughtfulness. Moments when I succumb to the gossip and choose power over grace and let pride and ego guide me and I refuse to take the blame for my mistakes.  Those are the messy days...things feel broken and chaotic and it seems easier to walk away and sometimes I do, but it leaves a tremendous hole in my spirit.
Those are the times when the unpredictable creeps in and my insecurity rises up.  Although I know what the outcome of the baking bread will be, I am not always allowed that foresight with my friendships.

There are times when I have messed up and walked away, but there are times that I haven't.  When the geraniums are growing strong in the summer sun and one of my kiddos runs through and tramples the plant, it's not dead, it just requires some special care.  Many times it must be trimmed back and stabilized, it requires extra nurturing and it's presence can't be taken for granted for a few weeks as it pushes its roots in a bit deeper.

Relationships are hard.  If you choose to go deep, it's not easy and it can be very painful, but when you forgive yourself and others, your roots eventually stabilize and you are able to stand stronger together. We are not meant to live this life alone, bring on the scary, unpredictable, ugly, beautiful and yes, even the messy.


  1. Wow, you are a truly gifted writer! Wow.

    I resonate with a lot of what you wrote here. Messes are an interesting thing, aren't they, and so much a part of being human. Have you read any Sabrina Ward Harrison? I think you would like her....

    Thanks for visiting my blog today! It gave me the great opportunity to stop by yours. ;-)

  2. Life isn't easy. Relationships can hurt but they can also bring us the greatest rewards. Superficial friendships abound, but, the one's that stay in my life over decades, know me in good and bad times are priceless. They are my family and greatest gifts. Business relationships are just different. There are a whole different set of dynamics are in play. As much as I hate it, I have found I must be very careful how much I share of me there. Sometimes people are evil and use things to hurt.