Updated: Jun 17
Life was created to foster relationships. Whether you are an introvert who prefers the one on one interactions or an extrovert who prefers the energy of a big group, you were designed to be with people and relate with them (and for them to relate with you). Unfortunately, there are more obstacles than ever before getting in the way of us experiencing true connection with other human beings - technology, entertainment, social media, busy schedules, busier minds. We have to fight harder than ever before, standing firmer against temptations and distractions. Taking life inventory and evaluating what's important are not philosophies for which I can take credit, but I am a strong supporter of the practice. It is so easy to get shipwrecked in our relationships as we prioritize feeding our media binges over quality time with others.
My wife spent many years making Christmas presents for family members and friends out of yarn. Teaching herself how to crochet, we not only found it cost effective (which I liked), but it was a great outlet for creativity and it gave her something to do when we watched movies together - she's never been much for being idle. She has crafted some incredible items, such as: baby clothes, pot holders, dish scrubbers, beanies, gloves, scarves, and a cool mermaid tail blanket for our cute niece. Watching her over the years, she has torn apart as many projects as she has created. She gets to a point in her endeavor that if she doesn't like how it is forming, she will rip it apart and start again at the place right before it became discombobulated. She then goes back to crocheting as if nothing happened and the end result is always beautiful, the work of a true artist.
I believe there are times we need to treat our lives like my wife treats her crochet. If you see that you have become out of sorts, trace yourself back to where things went wrong and start again. Rip out the things in your life that made your situation a disaster and begin mending the things that need to be repaired.
The same practice can be applied to our interactions with people. If there is an important relationship that has somehow become toxic, stop and evaluate. What went wrong? Don't assume the dung heap of responsibility belongs only to the other party. Ask yourself what you did wrong and how you can make it right. Too many times, we have grown closer to our devices than our relationships because they are not as messy and don't require as much work. Taking responsibility is difficult, especially if the other person is a complete jerk.
A couple of years ago, while attending Bible college, I was faced with a situation that tested my humility. My brother contacted me and told me I needed to contact our grandma on my dad's side of the family. He accused me of not being available for my family. I did not have a good connection with my brother at that time, so I dismissed his judgment as hypocritical and unworthy of my consideration. In fact, I was rather hot and bothered about the issue. One of my mentors rightly observed my attitude of pride and inquired of its source. Trying to portray my stance as the righteous voice and my brother as the villain, this mentor saw straight through my facade and mercifully knocked me down a few pegs. She helped me realize that I needed to take responsibility no matter what. The act of calling my grandma had become like waving the white flag of surrender to my brother's initiative, but I did it regardless, and I was glad I did - to save a relationship with him and my grandma.
Our connection needed to be mended and my own personal pride had to be ripped away to make it happen. We are still not close, but we can carry a conversation without being mad at each other. That is actually great progress.
No matter what you are personally considering right now, if it has become rotten, go through the painful process of tearing away. Even Jesus says that sometimes we will be pruned back to bear more fruit. It is not fun. It is not easy. It is not comfortable. It is, however, necessary. If our lives are as chaotic and rotten as the lives of those who don't believe in Jesus, how attractive will we look? Why would they want our Jesus and if he doesn't make a difference?
Brothers and sisters, you are meant to be a light. A light stands in a dark room and confronts it, commanding it to dispel. Do not let the darkness overtake you. Do not let it overtake your relationships. Do not let it win. Expose it and destroy it. When you successfully shine with the light of your Savior, people will want what you have because the gospel you preach will be supported by a life lived rightly before the Lord. And that, my friends, is a masterpiece carefully crafted by God Himself.