I hate that awkward moment when I bump into someone at a restaurant or in the aisle at the grocery store…someone I used to know pretty well but have lost touch with. Usually it's a former co-worker, a familiar face from our small group at our old church, an ex-neighbor, maybe a schoolmate from long-ago, or aging friend of a friend whom I used to hang out with before we had kids.
All that awkward social stuff is common enough. To some degree, we all travel through our lives bouncing from one polite conversation to another. What can get uncomfortable is when this happens and you suddenly realize that the awkward and uncomfortable vibe is coming from one of your teens, or maybe it’s from your spouse?
The realization can hit a parent or family member like an electric current. It's breathtakingly painful as it drills into a newly awakened chamber of our almost empty and slowly numbing hearts. What happened to us? We used to be so “tight”… so connected. Where did things get off track?
It’s kinda of obvious upon reflection that somewhere along the way, our life distracted us for a bit too long. We forgot to stay connected and took their friendship, love and respect for granted. We made the “assumption” that things were “good”, simply because no one was chucking frying pans or lava lamps at us when we came home from work each night. So we plod along without so much as a hug or a peck on the check in greeting…. unaware that the relationships we value most are drifting away. Not good.
Relationships take a regular dose of time, energy and focus, not out of ritual or habit, but out of a genuine desire to share, listen and be heard. Passive parenting will kill a relationship with your teen like a passive marriage will destroy a happy home. They are related, linked together. When we take the time to spend on our most important relationships, the other parts of our lives will fall into balance.
The same is true of our relationship with God. When we take the time to read in His word, pray in His presence and live in the shadow of His cross, we find life goes much differently than when we surge ahead without Him or lag way behind. God is calling to us to start and end our days with Him. If you make that personal shift, the rest of your life will sort itself out. Jesus describes this all in John 15 as “abiding”…
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love… These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Those are bold statements, I know. But, they are true.
If your marriage, your teenager or your family are driving you nuts, take a few minutes and be honest. Do you need to actually pick up the Bible and read the word of God and ask for His help? If you do, welcome to the human race. If you don’t think it will matter, it may be that you’ve just gotten used to living life on your own and it’s time to soberly consider how that’s working out for you.
Be careful, my own experience with living out things on my own terms were beyond painful. If your pattern follows my own… relationships and life will continue to drift hopelessly away, you’ll find yourself disconnected from the ones you love the most. God wants to help, if you let Him. I believe He will redirect your path from where you are, to where you need to be to get reconnected. I promise.
God is so intentional with us. He sends us such specific messages of hope, love and encouragement to His children. When we push through our pain and apathy and resentment long enough to re-connect with Him, we are choosing to abide. You will be shocked at how amazing and simple it is to recover your peace, perspective and hope with everything else. Our kids and our homes suddenly get a revised clarity and in the glare of His light we find that He will direct us forward. I’ve discovered that somehow when we abide, it’s not long until we’ve found a specific way to recover and reconnect with our kids and our homes along the way.
Simple and profound, timeless and true, God’s word cannot fail. Jesus is ready to help reverse the awkward to the familiar --to heal, to renew and to reconnect you with your kids, your family, your spouse. All that’s holding you back is, well, you.
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