“The goal is connection, not distance” Well doesn’t that sound nice…oh wait.
I’m going to be talking about relationships and I don’t even know why.
Two days ago, my professor Dr. Bourdeaux was finishing up her lecture on the Jesus way of talking in our love and relationships communication class. She ended the lecture by having us all stand in a circle, holding hands, and read off a list of statements about love together in a prayer.
I’m thinking to myself like this is kind of a cute exercise. I’m holding one girls hand, the other girl prefers not to hold hands which is fine. I love praying so I don’t mind doing this somewhat cheesy exercise (it’s a class on love and relationships at a Christian University, you have to expect it to be a little bit gushy). So I’m reading off the list of statements with my classmates and one statement felt like a weight of bricks fell on top of me, the statement said:
“The goal is connection, not distance.”
Why is that such a big deal for me? Why have I not been able to stop thinking about it when I have forgotten all the other statements on the list. When I can’t stop thinking about something, I feel like that is my sign to write about it. I knew that God was perhaps challenging that statement to me because it is something I struggle with. That is, focusing on the connection with people, rather than creating distance.
At work and at school we always talk about how community and relationships are so important and sometimes I truthfully find it annoying. Hearing statements like “we are meant to be relational beings, we aren’t meant to do life alone, we are supposed to share our burdens together, yadda yadda…” initially it sounds great! Like yes! I want to have a ton of friends and talk about our deepest struggles and laugh together in joy and be involved with other people all the time. But then the other part of me goes, well it’s actually scary sharing your life with someone else because at any moment they can betray your trust, and does anyone really stay in your life forever anyway?
This is not to say I am anti social. I’m not. In fact, I love hanging out with people and meeting new people. The problem is not that I don’t like people or making friends. Because I really truly do. The problem is maintaining that connection when things get tough, rather than creating that distance. I distance myself for different reasons. Sometimes I get scared that this relationship is becoming too close and the feeling of being vulnerable scares me sometimes. Sometimes its because of the hurt I’m feeling that I just don’t want to face. Sometimes its for other reasons that are hard to explain. But as we talked about in class, the goal is not distance! It’s connection. Being connected with another human being is so valuable, precious, and is worth more than any silver or gold. We ARE meant to be relational beings. Sometimes it is hard because we are human and none of us are perfect. We hurt those we love, we make mistakes, we have bad days and seasons, we can be selfish, and we go through a lot of emotions. All of these things can sometimes cause harm in our relationships. But when things get tough, you shouldn’t distance yourself. Now, some distance is necessary in certain situations, don’t get me wrong. But distancing yourself away from healthy loving relationships when you need them the most is not healthy. You need to fight for that connection and work to make it stronger. It takes work but it is worth it. That I am learning.
Now I have to share another important lesson I learned about relationships. I met this wonderful man at Starbucks named Vincent a few weeks ago. I have secretly adopted him as my new grandpa.
I was working on hw at starbucks before church, and Vincent and I were sharing a table. He is a professional chess instructor and he was waiting for his student to come in. We somehow got to talking and he was asking me about my work. I told him that I was writing for a church and he asked me, “Oh, you are a Christian?” And I said, “yes sir!”
He too was a Christian and we started talking about faith. Another girl sat at our table and joined in the conversation. She too was a believer. It was a really cool experience to talk about my faith with two people I just met at a coffee shop. Vincent then gave us a specific talk about romantic relationships. I whipped out my phone and began taking notes.
Some things Vincent touched on:
-You girls are worth more than rubies, you are beautiful because you were made in the image of God.
-Some guys go to church to find a Christian girl because she can be easy to manipulate. She wants to serve her husband, they know that, and they can take advantage. Beware of wolves.
-Not all men who go to church are worth your time.
-Watch out for wandering eyes.
-Pray for the man you will want to marry.
-Women have a special intuition. If you feel something isn’t right, pray to God to reveal what is wrong.
Now when I see Vincent, he always reminds me to be careful about what men I am hanging around. He truly is like the grandpa I never had. Everything Vincent told me is what I already know. But the difference is, that it is easy to forget it in the moment. But it really is important to value yourself and know your worth. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you or make you feel less than. And please, stay away from wandering eyes. We all know what that’s like and its not going to change because you get into a relationship.
Remember that you can’t change anyone else but you can pray for them and work on yourself so that you grow stronger in character, wisdom, and love. So don’t focus on trying to change everyone around you, start with yourself!
So this is me talking about relationships, but only because I have gained so much knowledge this semester from my classes, and the people God has put in my life. If I were to give you relationship advice on my own experience, well I might have some what not to do’s and very limited experience to share which is not very helpful. But these people that have shared with me their experience, expertise, and knowledge have helped me learn so much and have shaped the way that I think. I love sharing with other people what I learn.
Only one week left of classes this semester, then a week of finals, and then SUMMER BREAK! It’s crazy. I have enjoyed going to college so much and I can’t believe I’m a senior with only one semester left. The two years are flying bye. I can’t wait to see what’s next in this season of life. It’s bittersweet. But I know that when I graduate, I won’t stop learning ever. My goal when I finish college is to learn piano, finally.
Never stop learning folks! And build those connections!