The older I get, the more I realize that when it comes to relationships, leisure is a luxury, but intentional is something all of us can afford.
Perhaps you can relate...hear me out:
Family, friends, and fellowship take time -- time that seems most elusive during the very seasons we need them most. Child-rearing, career-building, purpose-finding, needs-meeting, faith-building, life-managing, and marriage-investing all seem to pile into the same (roughly) decade-long season that leaves us with almost zero percent bandwidth and, yet, 100% need for support. Personally, with a 14 year old and a 3 year old as bookends, plus over a decade of ministry work, Troy and I feel like the season has been close on to 15 years now.
It doesn't mean that we don't have dear friends. It doesn't mean we don't find meaningful fellowship at church. It doesn't mean we don't have family dinners with extended family. It simply means that building relationships doesn't look or feel quite like we thought it would.
There are not as many dinners that go long into the night as we imagined. There aren't as many family reunions or vacations on the calendar. We don't sit around strumming guitars on a Tuesday night and tell our life stories as regularly as we did back in college. (Wait, do you?) We have to fight for leisure, and even more so to be intentional.
We are 40-somethings now, and more than ever, we have to consciously choose being intentional over leisure. I'm making peace with it...and maybe I'm a slow learner:
- I'm making peace with the fact that I don't get to see extended and out of town family as often as I'd like, but I can be intentional and not superficial when we do spend time together.
- I'm making peace with how difficult it is to counsel others when I'm counseling my own children, but I can pray about specific relationships that come my way.
- I'm making peace with not making it to all the fun social functions in favor of the ones that feed my soul with good conversation.
- I'm making peace with taking time for strangers for the sake of widening my circle, in lieu of only surrounding myself with the comfort of the familiar.
- I'm making peace with how much time it takes to grow a thriving - not just surviving - family; my family is a mission field as significant as the one across the ocean.
- I'm making peace with not pleasing all who have expectations of me and not expecting other to please me either; relationships are not built on guilt but giving.
On the one hand, I'm making peace with how relationship take intention when leisure is rare, and on the other: how much grace I can give and receive while figuring it out.
Friend, don't close the shutters or bring in the welcome mat; let's just change our expectations and focus.
Maybe we can offer ourselves and others a bit more grace while navigating these seasons where what we need and what we can offer are sometimes juxtaposing.
And maybe while we all learn how to be more intentional, we can start by remembering that the most deliberate relationship secured for us on the Cross of Christ is the most satisfying relationship we can have. Family, friends, and fellowship were all meant to mirror horizontally what we discover vertically. Amazingly, when we grow more intentional to know Christ, we grow more intentional to love others. No wonder these are summed up as the greatest commandments:
Praise Him for the tension: the lack of leisure that makes us more intentional, the hunger for relationship that makes us press into our God and those He provides for fellowship, the inability to juggle it all...that teaches us that He alone can make "all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
He's still at work...in and through each relationship in our lives, in whatever season we find ourselves.
Because of grace,