Today’s Word: ‘Belong’ … as in we really all do belong to one another.
Several years ago, during a visit with my late friend, Eugene Peterson, we talked about the book I was publishing at the time; about the normal tensions in all relationships. Eugene reminded me of his translation of part of Matthew 5.
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”
We all belong to some relational network of friends, lovers, spouses, family members, sons, daughters, in-laws, coworkers; people we know well, as well as people we may not know well, or even at all.
Because we share the same air, because we share the same space, the same sunlight, the same rain, the same everything, it’s important for all of us to lean into ways of living together that make it possible for all of us to thrive together. The issue isn’t “how do we become more and more like one another?” Rather, the issue is “how do we come together more intentionally to celebrate the many ways we bring life and aliveness to one another?
Think about the relationships you have. What’s working and what isn’t? Bring to mind your more primary relationships and ask yourself: “How can I bring less of ‘me and you’ and more of ‘we and us’?” What would it look like if you made a concerted effort to focus less on your partner’s shortcomings and your needs and more on your own shortcomings and your partner’s needs?
What kind of transformation would that bring about?