Test Time

board-361516_1280Okay people, sharpen your pencils.  It’s test time.

I’m making it easy on you and giving you multiple choice, but I want to see your test bubbles filled in with nice dark #2 pencil.

Oh yeah, the question first.

The question we’ve been kicking around for the last few posts is: What keeps us from pursuing the grace-giving, God-pleasing, soul-enriching relationships in our lives?

We know God calls us to sow into people, we know we are built up by others’ wisdom, we know we are to make disciples and spur one another on in the Lord, but why is it so hard to do?

Below are some answers you have shared as well as some of my own observations.  Pick the one you resonate with most or add your own.

The trap of efficiency.  I like to get things done.  See my multi-colored task list?  See my spotless car? Investing in relationships, especially people who aren’t exactly like me takes a lot of time, and it’s kind of a pain.  Sometimes they talk a lot.  Sometimes they call me at inconvenient times.  Better if I stick with my plan.

Unrealistic expectations.  I loved the idea of this relationship investment thing.  I could find someone who needed my fountain of wisdom and change her life!  Or, I could talk to an older woman and she could solve all my problems.  But it didn’t work.  I tried it.  We did encourage each other and actually had some good fellowship, but it was kind of… regular.  I was hoping for more sparks, or at least a kindred-spirit kind of thing.  Maybe I’ll try someone else.

The virtual pull.  Why bother?  I can find advice on anything online, and so can anyone else.  There are tons of Christian websites too, and social media has connected me with lots of friends.  Why waste an hour with one person when I can reach ten people in a minute?

Fear of man.  People probably wouldn’t want to come if I invited them over.  And I’d write an encouragement note to someone, but I’m not that good with words.  I’d love to have deeper fellowship with people, but I wouldn’t want them to feel awkward or like I’m too forward.  Better to play it safe.

Laziness.   I really do want to make a difference in others’ lives.  I do. But truthfully, it’s a lot easier to just talk with my friends.  It’s relaxing, it’s fun, it’s easy.  The whole idea of asking God who I can reach out to, or how he wants to use me… it just seems like a lot of effort.

Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty.

I’m guilty of each one.

So I need to remind myself that reaching out to others in love and building real-life relationships is both pleasing to God and strengthening to me.  It’s better than efficiency.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  It’s more meaningful than social media.  It’s worth risking what they will think of me.  It’s more valuable than my comfort.

And more importantly, I remind myself of God’s words: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  (Hebrews 10:24-25)

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6 Responses to Test Time

  1. Another Writing Teacher says:

    Q. What keeps us from pursuing the grace-giving, God-pleasing, soul-enriching relationships in our lives?
    A. All of the above — and more.
    I, too, am guilty of all of the above and other excuses to stay in my comfort zone instead of reaching out to others. In my mind I’m much more open and inviting than I actually am in reality. Yet I know relationships are valuable because of the treasured times when I’ve tasted genuine fellowship. It does take intentional effort for some of us while others make relating look so natural. (So, add comparisons and uncharitable judgments to the list, or is that still fear of man?)

    Love — building relationships, caring about people — involves risk. It can get messy. (Add craving for control to the list?) People may disappoint my expectations or worse, I may disappoint them. What if they think I”m weird? (Not only unrealistic expectations but uneven, differing, expectations can cause me to shy away from relating.) I’ve realized that my strongest friendships have developed over time, not over night. (Add impatience? Or check mark for the trap of efficiency column?)

    If I’ve reached out but gotten spurned once or twice, I may hesitate to do it again. I’ll find something else to do that keeps me safe and comfortable. (There’s the fear of man and the busy, efficiency trap and the virtual pull.)

    If I’ve written a note but it doesn’t get acknowledged, I may hesitate to do it again (laziness?) even though I know I’m called to reach out, regardless of response or reaction.

    I appreciate the opportunity to ponder these kinds of questions with you, Trish!
    I find that faithful, obedience keeps me without excuse and has its own rewards! As for me, I remind myself with this verse: A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Pr. 11:25)

    • Such great thoughts Janel! I love the way you’ve thought through how our hearts work and still embrace the opportunity to keep growing in this area. And what a great verse to sum it all up. God always takes care of us as we reach out in faith to others. Thanks so much for thinking and sharing!

  2. Susan Riser says:


    I just found you and joined…congrats to you for taking the time to write/share such words of wisdom. With taking care of your big family, I marvel at your dedication to focus on guiding our spiritual lives. For me, I’m totally quilty and need a continual “cattle prod”, so thanks for the encouraging words and a reminder. Looking forward to reading more from you.

  3. Susan Riser says:

    P.S. Spell check…the word I meant to write is guilty, not quilty…sorry!

  4. Susan Riser says:


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