I’ve been thinking recently about the cost of relationships.
Being in a relationship, be it romantic, friendly, forced by blood relation or other, is costly. People come into our lives and leave muddy footprints all over them.
Relationships require so much patience, compassion and forgiveness. Sometimes it feels too hard. Too costly. Too much to ask.
For example, I like to take good care of my things. I place a great deal of value in my possessions and so I tend to treat all of them with my utmost respect.
However, I am learning that other people do not take the same precautions with their own possessions nor those of anyone else for that matter.
I came to realize this the hard way in my first flatting experience.
Somehow I ended up flatting with three loud, rambunctious, messy boys.
I never thought I would flat with boys at all, let alone three at once, but God has such a great sense of humour that way.
So I would often find myself stumbling into wrestling matches on the living room floor, piggy-back rides in the kitchen and tea box tower construction in the pantry.
And as you can imagine, such chaos often left casualties. Fortunately, nay miraculously, none of us were ever harmed, but the same cannot be said for our flat, furniture and crockery.
Cups were chipped, once white tea towels became grey and splotchy, spatulas were singed on hot frying pans and beautiful china bowls were cracked irreparably.
There was this one bowl I was particularly fond of because it was on the clearance shelf at the kitchenware store.
It was white with this delicate turquoise pattern etched all around it. I fell in love the minute I laid eyes on this bowl and I knew I had to buy it.
If I had a china cabinet I would have kept it nicely tucked away in there because it was almost too beautiful to be used.
One day I came home and found my precious bowl with a big, ugly chip in its rim.
And not only that, but inching from the chip right through the middle of the bowl was a hairline crack which I knew spelled disaster.
It broke my heart.
I knew I shouldn’t have trusted those careless boys with my beautiful bowl. This is why we can’t have nice things. Because people are sloppy and careless and incredibly clumsy.
If we let them use our fine china it will get chipped, it’s only a matter of time.
I stormed around the flat for a little bit and muttered to myself about how careless boys are and how I should teach them a lesson about breaking other peoples precious belongings.
And I was getting all puffed up and ready to fight until I realized how melodramatic and absurd I was being.
It was a bowl for goodness sake. It was no antique, it wasn’t a heirloom, it wasn’t given to me by someone very special.
It probably cost less than 15 dollars. It had no sentimental or monetary value and yet I felt so outraged that someone had broken something that belonged to me.
It’s a joy to have nice things. It just makes sense that you would look after the things which you have spent your hard earned money on.
But it becomes a problem when we value our things more than people.
So this brings me back to the cost of relationships. The fact that sharing my life, my home and my space with other people means that things won’t ever be the same.
They’ll leave their fingerprints all over my wineglasses. Their problems cluttering up my quiet Friday evening. Their brokenness chipping a hairline crack of disappointment and hurt throughout the smooth crockery of our relationship.
But I don’t want to be the kind of person who is so caught up in bubble-wrapping her china bowls that she misses out on communing with friends.
I don’t want to become obsessed with collecting things that I lose the chance to build a community that depends on sharing.
Too often I think we let our pride, our egos and our desire for perfection to get in the way of real connection. True intimacy. Deep relationship.
But I want to learn how to let people in.
I want to love others. I want to drink from chipped cups and wear my best friends socks and lend someone my sweater when it gets cold.
I want to trade lemons from your tree for basil from my garden. I want to swap chocolate chip cookie recipes and your mom’s famous potato salad recipe.
I want to be the kind of person who values people, not things.
And that isn’t an easy thing for me to do. Because people with my personality type tend to want to keep things to them self. We so badly want to be different, unique and important and it can feel like allowing people to see all of us will spoil that.
I’m deeply afraid that someone will copy me and then I won’t be so special anymore.
But I’m learning that this is one of the costs of relationships. The fact that someone might copy us or abandon us or hurt us in ways we never saw coming.
It is so messy and risky and completely gut-wrenching at times, but it is what we were made for after all.
To love and be loved. To share and be seen. To lean on and lead on one another.
So come on over and use my best china because life is for living, not just for looking at.