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  • Leah Van Someren

I'm in Relationship

I wonder what Adam’s first thought was of his new relationship the moment after he and Eve were driven out of the garden. Not about the fact that she was a woman or that he was suddenly down a rib, but simply his reaction to relationship in general. I’m curious what he felt about his life being connected to, affecting and being affected by another person. At the time, it was the only other affiliation he knew aside from God and if you remember correctly, they didn’t start out with the greatest first impressions. In fact, I’d go as far as to say, at first Adam may have thought Eve was a bad apple - pun intended. After all, it was this curious, fleshly creature, midway between malign and magical, that he blamed for their less than idyllic circumstance.

And yet, relationship continued.

I ask because I can’t imagine they had it all figured out. I choose to find comfort in that because the reality is, I don’t either. Humans are challenging. I know because I am one and for a long time, I held out for relationships that came without friction and only waded in shallow waters where I knew it was ‘safe’. I didn’t know what it took to be in relationship because I didn’t know what it took to give and receive. I only knew what it took to take.

And you know what? It turns out, you can’t take love, you can’t take connection and you can’t take relationship. Do you know why? Because taking is rooted in control. It’s grabbing, snatching, gripping and clutching. It’s settling for solely what your two fists can manage when so much more is offered. It’s only snagging that which you prefer of a person, leaving the rest half known and half loved...which isn’t love at all. And worst of all, trapped in the stifling, choosy grip, the very thing you desired only shrivels up and dies.

The anthesis: the wild, upside down, free nature of giving and receiving that cultivates connection. It’s astonishing, growth provoking, humbling and worthwhile. It’s love. It’s everything we’re made for.

But just because it is what we’re made for doesn’t mean it isn’t challenging. And just because it is challenging, doesn’t mean it isn’t good and right. I’ve recently come into some of the best relationships of my entire life and they are still challenging! In my most cherished relationships, at least half the time is spent wrestling down lies by continually opening our hearts in authentic and hard conversations.

We are challenged and yet, relationship continues.

And that’s the point. The point of relationship is to choose over and over again in big ways and small ways alike. If you hold out for a connection - be it with friends, family, coworkers or romantic partners - without challenge, you’re probably just be waiting to take. And if you’re waiting to take, the relationship is dead long before it even begins.

But there is another way! By exchanging sterile control for the messy, tension-filled dance of giving and receiving - sacrificing yourself for the good of the other and allowing them to do that for you - your connection will flourish, just like it was created to do.

Because we are human beings and God created us - you and me - for relationship. He wired us to show up. The kind of showing up that says, “Kick me your shoes and I’ll wear them for a mile or five just so I can experience the same blisters. If we’re not in the same boat, I’ll jump out of mine to swim to yours, doing my best to not capsize you in the process. I’ll stand back-to-back with you, covering your blindside. Through tears and tension, I will crack the door of my own heart, opening it to reach out and touch yours. I’ll be in your corner win or lose and you’ll hear my voice above the lies, forever calling you forth in who you were created to be. And if you forget exactly who that is, I’ll be waiting with a flashing billboard to remind you. Together, we’ll wade into deep water, exploring the depths of heart, soul and spirit even when - especially when - it’s scary. I will take a risk and speak the truth, no matter how sloppy. I will point you back to Jesus and drag you back if you run the other away. I will know you and let you know me. We won’t be perfect together but we will be purposely together.”

In His grace, God teaches us to love and love stays at the table even when leaving is an option. Love is scary close. Love lingers at the junction of pursuer and pursued, posturing itself to both give and receive.

Through a couple specific relationships, I’ve learned to show up no matter what. I’ve learned that it’s worth it because we are created for it. And now, I boldly pray for challenges for all relationships. I choose to not run away and I urge you to do the same. When we get to communicate, process hard things, clarify intentions or be honest about hurts and hangups, it brings life because we are created to give all of us and receive all of the other. And with that knowledge, let’s choose to see challenges as a means to increased intimacy, perseverance and character. In making that choice, relationship continues and as it does, Christ, the hope of Glory, is formed in us.

Thanks be to God.


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