l like going to my local grocery store. Over the years I’ve gotten to know the check-out people and a few of the people who stock shelves on a first name basis. In the process of casual conversation I’ve discovered a little about their families and they mine. The lady at the Starbucks calls me honey, which I thought was endearing until I heard her call everyone in the line honey. Still, it makes me feel connected.
A few of the grocery baggers know me well enough that if I go to their line they pretend like they are going to leave, like they have something better to do. In return, I’ll often ask the check-out person for a real bagger if they’ve stuck around and we all share a laugh. Almost every time I’m there I run into people from Peace Lutheran, the congregation I serve, or the larger community. I like going to the grocery story.
What I have at the grocery store is a network of casual acquaintances. These casual acquaintances add some benefit to my life, give some sense of connection, albeit a thin connection, and they often add a little levity to my day. But, and this is a crucial distinction, they don’t change my life in the least. They don’t press me to think differently about my world. They won’t show up if I’m in desperate straights. I’m not bound to them in any way. If I’m next to another grocery store and it’s more convenient, I’ll go there. I won’t think about them in between visits to the grocery story and chances are they don’t think of me either.
What is obvious is this: There is a qualitative and marked difference between a casual acquaintance and a transformative relationship, a relationship that changes my life, even if in small ways. Transformative relationships are people who make me think differently about myself and my life; who expand my vision of my place in the world, who will show up when I need it; who allow me to be who I am, even as they cheer on small movements toward what I am becoming.
That distinction caused me to ask myself, “What is my present relationship toward Jesus?” A casual acquaintance? A transformative relationship?
I wish I could say, at this present moment, that it is a transformative relationship. But, I’ve been in a little slump lately, and it feels like it’s leaning more toward a casual acquaintance relationship these days. In the past I would freak out and press harder into the relationship, forcing myself to read more, do more, believe more (Can you really force yourself to believe more?). But, for this phase, I’m just choosing to trust more. Trust that the life-giving promises of the past will blossom again like a spring flower after a dark winter. Trust that what I say, “God loves me no matter what” is true. Trust that our faith is not just an individual faith but a community faith where we carry one another at times. Trust that there are seeds yet to be planted in the fallow ground of my soul.
It’s Monday. Casual Relationship? Transformative relationship? Where are you? Peace. Kai