Relationships redux

So Aiden starts this game of tag for listing 7 songs we like. I tag Rick, and in the process, a conversation starts in the comments on this post that involves people from several states and countries…all because of listing some songs.

Rick has met all of us, and I’ve met all but one of us. But the meeting doesn’t seem to be the most important part, at least face-to-face. Read through the comments to see who relationship develops even in this one conversational swirl.

But why? Why are we so intrigued with interactions and why do we attempt to clarify what counts and what doesn’t, what is real and what isn’t?

Perhaps because we are built to relate and are built to name things and so we try to apply the one to the other. I spent four years in Goshen, Indiana at a mennonite institution, where people spent inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out who was related to whom. Most real mennonites could make connections to each other through BOTH parental lines. (Meanwhile, I was connected to no one, as there are very few swedish mennonites…and I’m not a mennonite). We want to know if we are connected, we want to know if we are on speaking terms, we want to know if we are okay.

Part of me wants to tell us to quit spending so much time analyzing the role of technology in relationship, the nature of our interactions. However, that’s been part of communication theory since communication theory existed.

(It was called rhetoric and I studied it. For example, in the early middle ages, people spent huge amount of time figuring out how to start a letter, as the precise wording of the “Dear John” decided whether the letter would be read…or whether the writer would continue to live.)

Part of me, however, knows that none of us would have much to write about if we couldn’t talk about relationship…and the talking provides the “something to do” while we find out about each other.

And part of me knows that the evidence of God in us is whether we can love those who really annoy us.  And how will we find those people unless we interact?

So, how’s that for annoying?

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5 responses to “Relationships redux

  1. I don’t know if “we” are spending so much time analyzing the role of technology in relationships so much as “you” are. And we are indulging you.

  2. “Why are we so intrigued with interactions and why do we attempt to clarify what counts and what doesn’t, what is real and what isn’t?”

    I read and reread your question and the word that came to mind was “safe.” We want to sort out who is safe. With whom can I share my heart and mind? Who will take me seriously, not laugh at me, appreciate (or at least consider) what I have to say? The response when “safe” is identified is a movement toward vulnerability.

    Another word that surfaces is “significant.” If it doesn’t matter, is it worth my time, my emotion, my energy, my thought? The response when a connection is discovered to be significant is willingness to invest.

    There is Christlikeness in sorting it all out. Consider the difference is Jesus’ communication with the woman at the well, the Pharisees, Mary and Martha, Nicodemus, the moneychangers in the temple. Jesus, who knows what it is a man’s heart, did/doesn’t have the need to figure out who is safe and what connections are significant. But, I believe as He communicated with those in the above list, they were led to do some sorting out of their own. Some never did “hear” what His heart had to say to theirs and they missed the opportunity for connection that is vulnerable and significant, that which enlarges our hearts, making wider the place where He comes in to make Himself at home.

  3. I love that, Amy, the idea of the sense of safety. And I think it helps me answer a question that has been part of my wrestling.

    Why did sinners and tax collectors invite Jesus to parties that many of his followers would die rather than attend?

    Rather than Jesus having to sort out who was safe (becuase no one was, really, for him), he was safe for everyone he was with. Not tame, as Lewis reminds us, but ultimately safe. There are no tricks in him, no bait and switch, no betrayal.

    So if we are like Christ, clothed in Christ, becoming conformed to the likeness of Christ, then we are called to give safety even when we may not feel it.

  4. Jon –

    I appreciate the thread you went with regarding safety, and like your phrase, “called to give safety”. The question of course, is how?

    I also like the word vulnerability that Amy used. I have been thinking (although not writing :-)) about this a lot lately.

    I think that safety is created by making ourselves vulnerable first.

    In every case that Amy cites, we can find an example of Jesus making himself vulnerable.

    I believe that it is through vulnerability that we discover our greatest opportunities for learning and perhaps our greatest opportunities for teaching.

    How can we create safety? By taking the risk to be a little unsafe ourselves, by becoming vulnerable with people we do not yet fully know.

  5. Man, Rob, this is great and terrifying. Because I love to be in control, to be the wise one. I am not sure how always to be vulnerable and yet, you are right, that is what lowers the tension in the room. That is what invites the safety.