After you decide to try your hand at writing a book, you have to figure out what it’ll be about. I feel like maybe people who have their lives more together, have an idea first and then decide to write about it. I don’t have my life together yet though and frankly, I want the people reading this to be just as ridiculously flawed as me, so I think this order of things is appropriate. Also, what I lack in responsibility I make up for in imagination and delusion so I should be good.
I stole one of my daughter’s doodle notepads and jotted down some things I am passionate about. Well, first I started a page dedicated to “Interesting things that make great analogies”. I have two bullet points so far and they are both about animals that I read in a bedtime book. I’m hopeful to acquire more via Netflix documentaries and Wikipedia. Because also if you want to write a book you either have to be interesting or know interesting facts.
I also put down social media and picked up a reading hobby. I started late (end of February), but I’m hoping to read 45 books this year. I never read. 45 books seems lofty for a girl who doesn’t read and doesn’t keep commitments. But I need to be smart to write a book. And readers are leaders, or something like that.
At the top of my doodle pad list of passions, I started with God because I know anything worth anything starts and ends with God. Following that, I wrote down incomplete sentences about how important it is to marry the right person. I almost didn’t and then in God’s grace ultimately did and I have a story to tell there for sure.
I have kids. I like my kids and I do a lot of self reflection and experiments on how to be the best mom I can be for them. I’d definitely welcome an excuse to research and talk about parenting more.
Speaking of self reflection, I spend a lot of time inside my head. Probably to a fault. I am drawn to and have always been motivated towards the constant pursuit of self betterment. I worry that it borders narcissism and perfectionism, but can you write pages and pages about yourself without a little of both?
When I looked over the list as a whole, I nodded my head in approval then I wrote RELATIONSHIPS in big letters at the bottom. The list was starting to look like I might be circling around one central concept. My relationship with God. My relationship with my husband. My relationship with my children. Then I scrunched my face with the realization of a slight problem. There is one thing that might stand in the way of my hopeful relationship expertise. I dropped the pen and nervous laughed.
Silly girl, you don’t have any friends.
Okay, I do. I think people like me just fine. The parts I show them, anyway. What I really mean, is I keep myself intentionally isolated. Donald Miller says, if you hide behind a mask you can impress but not connect. And when I read that, it was like he told me everything I’ve ever done. My default mode is to be always “on” in group settings. Life experiences have trained me in the art of being strategically authentic. Meaning, I’ll give you the real deal, but only the things I chose to shine light on. Somewhere I picked up this belief that people in relationship with me don’t enjoy me, they just endure me. When you believe a thing like this, it’s much easier to isolate than to work through the lies. And in the same way that sin stands in the way of our closeness with God, isolating the real you makes it pretty difficult to be a good friend.
But now, my secret is out. I’m not so good at relationships. I was super unsettled by this, in the mid life crisis kinda way. And I didn’t want to stay here. So I started to take a closer look at how Jesus did relationships. Turns out, Jesus was pretty one on one. So I’m thinking we’re supposed to be too. *insert fear sweats at the thought*
Despite the anxiety growing in my chest over having to be vulnerable, something very cool happened as I read through the Bible with this conviction freshly stirred up in my heart. In watching Jesus do ministry through the book of John, I stumbled upon something profound. Right now it’s just a theory, one that I need to dig deeper into the gospels before I can officially conclude. But I *think* it’s safe to say, Jesus favored relationships over rules.
Pharisees were all about rules and judgement. And never about relationships. Jesus wasn’t without rules, I’m not saying that. But I believe he dealt with rules mostly in the context of a relationship. I believe there could be something big here. Something big and catchy like a book title:
Relationships over rules.
This could map out a better way to evangelize. Rules say what you’re doing is wrong. Relationships say I care about you and your decisions. And I think this concept could potentially overflow into several areas.
For instance.. my favorite subject—parenting. I think taking this idea of heavy on the relationship and light on the rules could be a beautiful “how to” on raising up Jesus loving babies. In our house, we have written on the fridge “building character > modifying behavior”. It’s all about capturing their heart. Its important to me that my kids know I love them and like them. I want an intimate relationship with them, so when I ask for their obedience, they trust my heart for them. Ive heard it said of parenting, that rules without relationship lead to rebellion. I can only assume then that to avoid rebellion, we should place far more emphasis on the relationship than the rules.
Perhaps, it could even apply to food issues and body image. I suspect, food freedom could come as a result of focusing on my relationship with the food instead of focusing on all the “rules” of dieting.
What about how we view church? Am I investing in a church like I would a relationship or am I going (or not going) because rules tell me I’m supposed to.
Do you favor a Pharisee or a follower? The gospels show us a bunch of Pharisees caring about keeping rules and holding people accountable for breaking the rules. And with a thankful however, the Bible tells of a Jesus who cared more about the heart condition of a person than whether they stayed perfectly within the rules. After all, he knew he was about to take all the accountability for us.
I’m excited to dive into scripture in depth, starting again in John, looking for truth behind the theory. Is there really something to this idea of a WWJD revival? I’ll tackle the subject by simply observing WDJD (what did Jesus do) specifically keeping tallies of where he chose relationship and where he chose rules.