One of my girls came home from college a few months ago and we talked about friendship. Having walked through transitions with friends, both of us. We sat on the couch in my safe place and talked about seeing differently, having the hard conversation, showing empathy. It is all such a journey.
I sigh and look up and feel my palms open. To be in relationship with people is to live with arms open wide. To be a gracious and kind, humble and serving friend, co-worker, daughter, sister means to live with open palms. I want to close my fists and hold tight, but deep calls out to deep that there is something more whole and free.
I read The Martian a few months ago. The movie was good, but the book was exceptional. It is a fantastically scientific book, full of tense moments and space humor. There was this one sentence early on in the book that I kept reading over and over again. I still see it in my mind now. The astronaut Mark Watney (aka Matt Damon) is stranded on the planet Mars and as his team on Earth works to get him home, they begin to describe what kind of person Mark is and what kind of asset he is to their team. He's witty and a jokester, resourceful and a genius. But it's this sentence that hits the core of who Mark is..
Mark not only fits in well with any social group, he's a catalyst to make the group work better.
A catalyst is a person or thing that causes an event to happen. In this case, the event is that the team works better. The group is more successful because of Mark's presence. He makes his team of astronauts better. This sentence gets me. It makes me teary just thinking about it. I strive for this.
Make others better.
Lose the expectations. We all have named or unnamed, fair or unfair expectations and standards in our mind that we hold above other people. We expect them to call, come over, help with this, ask about that. And when they don't, we are crushed. These expectations often aren't communicated, and so unknowingly, we have set people up to fail. And when we set our friends up to fail, we fail. It is an exhausting way of life. Let's agree to lose the expectations. Let's be open with one another, let's meet halfway, let's talk it out. Let's stop expecting perfection and start showering each other with grace. See differently.
Assume the best. There will come moments when you have a choice. You will have heard something about your friend or you will have experienced a moment of hurt. Maybe it's all legitimate. But what if we chose to believe the best possible thing about one another? What if we chose the truth? To take people at their word, in the purest way possible? What if there was no more gray area or weird reality confusion about this or that? What if we just chose the best and consequently, chose freedom? Sometimes thoughts can create a reality that is dark and isn't even real. Tell those lies that enough is enough. You're choosing the best.
Be motivated by love and kindness. Let all your words be seasoned with grace. Let your actions be a reflection of love. Let your reactions be that of kindness. Value the image of God in one another. I don't think this has always been my natural tendency, but I really deep down long for it. I have a natural instinct to fight for things and to fight for people, but I've tried to discern where kindness fits into the fight? But I'm learning that the valuing of people is the fight. That when we fight for the goodness in people, all people, we are fighting to elevate the Image of God before anything else.
No one is defined by what they do. This is a big one. It's the best news I think I have ever heard. We are not defined by the good things we do and we are not defined by the mistakes we make. We are defined by something far, far greater. Our identities are eternally cemented in who God says we are. Let's choose to operate by this. Let's choose to see this about people, to choose personhood over performance. It's how we want others to see us because it's how God sees us. The core of who we are has nothing to do with what we do, praise the Lord. But the core of who we are should affect what we do and how treat people. Let's act like we believe this.
Onward and upward, just as the Martian would do.