People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.
I have a friend. Let’s call him John.
I’m not sure if friend is actually the best word for our relationship, but it is the word I choose to use—not just in this post, but in life as well.
You see, John doesn’t return very many of my phone calls. He doesn’t reply to my voicemail messages. And he doesn’t answer very many of my texts.
But every few months, my phone will ring and John will be on the other end. Always out of blue. Usually in the evening.
He will apologize for being gone so long. He will assure me he is in a better place now. And he will ask if we can get together again for coffee or lunch. If at all possible, I agree.
John’s life has not been easy. He has told me repeatedly of the abandonment, the drugs, the alcohol, and the homeless nights that define his past. He speaks of his indiscretion freely. It is as much a part of his story as the home he grew up in.
Every time we get together, he recounts what has happened in his life. He will tell me about his desire to get back on the right track and the recovery meetings he has been attending. I will assure him there are people cheering for him. And I will offer to help in any way that I can. “Maybe we can get together again next week,” will usually be the last thing I say to him…until I hear from him again in a few months.
If I were to be honest, I’m not sure I get much out of my relationship with John. He doesn’t offer me any life advice. He doesn’t have a job or lifeskill that I learn from. He certainly doesn’t have any friends in high places who can help me get ahead. I think he cares about me as a person. But if he does, he has a funny way of showing it.
The one thing that he does offer is a consistent opportunity for me to love. Not a love that expects something in return, but a pure, unselfish love. One that requires patience and grace and commitment. You know—real love.
John needs me. And that is reason enough for me to keep him in my life.
There is an unhealthy inclination in our world to remove people from our lives who no longer serve us.
Our closets are full, but our hearts are empty.
When we decided to become minimalist, we did so because we knew our lives would improve if we removed the excess physical stuff from our home and life. They had become burdensome to us.
But it would be a foolish choice to automatically apply the exact same filter to our relationships. People always deserve more patience and sacrifice than physical possessions.
Do we need to find the strength to separate ourselves from abusive relationships? Yes, absolutely.
Are there some people that we need to be intentional about establishing boundaries with? Yes, of course.
But the path to better living is not found in turning our back on those who need us the most. The path to better living is found in developing the compassion and the space to love even those who don’t deserve it.
Choosing to invest in only the relationships that benefit me isn’t love, it’s selfish.