I recently had a conversation with my sweet mother-in-law, and we were talking about how rare lifetime friendship is. Some relationships just experience the natural ebb and flow of life, depending on what season you’re in, how much you have in common, or how far away you live from each other. Unfortunately, some relationships experience fall-out just because they get “hard.” She and I concluded that my generation (millennials) aren’t very good at doing hard things: having hard conversations, navigating hard situations, and investing in hard relationships. Unfortunately, this can happen a lot within relationships on our teams, because we are doing life so closely with them. The constant proximity to our teammates, coaches, and peers can mean high levels of drama or tension.
Unfortunately, the iPhone hasn’t helped.
Texting and social media have given us an easy opt-out of hard conversations.
I’m totally guilty of the following:
- Texting someone instead of calling them when I need to have an uncomfortable conversation.
- Not taking 5-10 minutes to call up long-distance friends, because I think I can just keep up with their lives on Instagram instead.
- Quitting on friendships altogether because they hurt me in some way, and it would just be a lot of work to invest time and energy into healing the relationship.
Before Jesus died, one of his closest friends and followers Simon Peter actually DENIED him publically THREE TIMES. Peter was sitting around a fire with a group of people and they said, “Hey, aren’t you one of Jesus’ friends?”
“But Peter denied it saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”
And a little later someone else saw him and said, “you also are one of them.”
But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”
And after about an hour still, another insisted saying. Certainly this man also was with him for he too is a Galilean!”
But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.”
Three times Peter denied even knowing one of his best friends. But look at what Jesus did when he saw him next in John 21 after he had risen from the dead.
“Jesus said, “Simon Peter, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
He said, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.””
For the three times that Peter denied knowing Jesus, Jesus came back in all of his tenderness and grace and gave him three opportunities to mend the relationship. To say, “I love you.” Not only that but after Peter had broken Jesus’ trust, Jesus empowered Peter with an enormous charge, asking him to “Feed His sheep.” Jesus could have easily turned his back on Peter after he denied Him, but instead, he chose to approach him in humility, love, and a renewed sense of trust—because He knew that relationships require hard work.
Relationships require investment, intentionality, and loads of forgiveness. Sometimes we pour out into hard relationships and don’t get anything back—we get denied or shut down. That’s ok because at least we went the extra mile to treat our peers the way Jesus would—with gentleness and persistence.
Next time I’m tempted to text someone about a serious matter or quit on a relationship, I’m going to try the following:
1. Pray about the situation.
2. Reflect on the ways you may have hurt them, instead of making yourself the victim.
3. Try calling them or meeting them for coffee.
4. If nothing else, write them a heartfelt letter.
Let’s stop avoiding hard things.
I am a wife to Kohlman and a mama to my four month old Valor. I graduated from Vanguard University, where I competed on the track team as a Heptathlete. After graduating, I coached track and field for two years at Corona del Mar high school, and went on to help found Pacifica Christian’s track and field program. Now I work as Copywriter for a digital marketing agency called Common Thread Collective. In my spare time, you can find me cooking a new recipe, working out at Ra Yoga, or going on long walks with my little fam.