Brian was the quintessential straight-laced Midwestern fraternity boy: funny, nerdy, and leader of the well attended chapter Bible study.
A friend and I visited his mom in the stroke recovery wing at the hospital. A few days earlier, a stroke impaired her ability to function day-to-day. We arrived, greeted her, then took her down the hall to the cafeteria for dinner.
We have problems with dependency. We cannot need. We will not ask for help. I would rather be needed than need. I would rather provide than be the one requiring provision.
There are two costs. Count both before you choose. If you see deep, close-knit friendships that ride out time’s storms and selfishness and wounds and fatigue and career, you will surely want one. Something so refined possesses great beauty. But such a beautiful and exquisite thing costs greatly.
In the November 2005 issue of “National Geographic,” a headline article carries the story about the longest-living people groups in the world. The first group lives in Sardinia, Italy. The Sardinians eat pecorino cheese, drink red wine and work hard. They also live closely together for their entire lives.
Someone said that love primarily has a contractual nature. Love means a commitment to which we bind ourselves. With love, we agree to give, receive and seek forgiveness. We choose to continually reconcile, repair and rebuild the relationship. We believe the person worth the choice to return again and again, no matter the cost.
A few weeks ago I sat in a spacious living room that was not spacious enough. The definition of proper seating extended to include the floor, end tables, and even other people. When these invented options were exhausted as well, the remainder of the large crowd that gathered simply stood; the rest squeezed into corners and deep past the double doors that marked the entrance to the room. While the arrangement was not comfortable in the physical sense, the purpose of the gathering overshadowed the inconvenience.
Now for the big question. How do we get right with God? How do we fix the relationship that has always felt a little off, a little broken?
Someone I know recently completed his first triathlon. He hadn’t trained, but he had finished. Asked what he learned, he replied, “Run toward the pain.”
We actually believe that self-sufficient independence and fulfilling relationships belong together. Might we have it wrong?
Many have hailed Karl Marx as a genius for identifying alienation in the human condition. His philosophical and political treatises engage the topic of alienation as he looks at the worker’s life in unchecked capitalism. But Marx saw nothing new. Two millennia prior, Jesus had already identified alienation, and more accurately. His solution involved not governments, but personal relations. His interactions with Peter bear this out.
This is how I work: if someone even slights me, I put up a wall. It might be small, to resemble the offense, but it performs the task of separating us. Eventually some people hurt me even more, and I build the wall higher to ensure that they stay out. I just can’t let them in to do any damage.
Before Paramount served him divorce papers, Tom Cruise starred in a few flicks. One was the picturesque, though critically panned, “Far And Away.” Without delving into the story, the film’s central image portrays Cruise’s character staking a flag in the dirt of Oklahoma amidst a land rush. For a moment, the camera focuses on this banner.
In what do I want to invest my life? Work? Money? Achievement? People? Do I want friends?
He sat across from me at our bar. As usual, he was late, and I antsy. But we still spoke openly of marriage, friends, sex, God, money, work and each other. We imbibed our usual spirits, downed marvelous burgers. And then it came.
John 17 is Jesus’ prayer for those who believe in him. He asks one thing of the Father for them: oneness. “That they may be one, just as we are one” (v. 22).