Yet again, Donald Miller’s writing changed my life.

Friends, man. It’s crazy the difference a motley crew of people from various places & times can be in your life, for better or worse. I’ve been blessed with true friends throughout the years, but have also felt the stinging pain of toxic relationships. Friendship has always been an “issue” for me–not that I can’t make or keep friends, but that I’m continually learning what it means to be in community with others.

Community means a whole lot of grace & not a lot of stubbornness. It’s about putting away the sarcastic barbs & reminding myself “Is my highest goal love when I say this/do this?” Friendship is about quelling the petty drama before it has time & freedom to grow into nastiness.

And that’s something I’m pretty sure I relearn daily. Just to be transparent: for the longest time, I was convinced I had the kiss of death when it came to relationships & I was the sole ruining force of friendships. It was a pretty huge, terrible burden to carry into friendships, as I immediately imagined a fiery end. Which in hindsight, was a TOTAL self-fulfilling prophecy because as the idea behind that goes, you live out what you believe about yourself.

Until this summer, I lived under that horrible self-curse. I was practically living in a sad Johnny Cash song (of my own doing!)

But then came God, through the perfect timing of Donald Miller’s post “Do You Believe You are Good At Relationships?” In the post, Don asks if you believe that you are bad for people, you are believing a total lie. “What if you’re really good at relationships and just don’t know it? What would happen if you started believing it?” 

Psalm 23:6 is clear. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” If you’re following the Lord’s path for your life, this is your identity. You are not bad for people or a life-ruiner. Those are pity party lies & intended to get you to miss out on the sweetness of the people in your life.

Until you refocus this part of your identity, you will not love others, yourself, or God to the fullest. How can you when you don’t think you can love correctly?

If you totally get where I’m coming from, be encouraged. We’re all in this together (the beauty of community, y’all!). Tell yourself today that you bring good to others, just as they do to you. (And if that’s not true, give yourself some compassion & grace, then fix it!) Also, read this other article by Don Miller, “Three Paradigm Shifts About Relationships That Are Setting Me Free.”

Blast from the past: “Everyone Hates Greek Clubs: Here’s Maybe Why” (2011)

Originally written April 4, 2011.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the systems that we use to gain value, worth, and basically, false redemption.

Donald Miller enables this great metaphor in his book Searching For God Knows What: Basically, we are all on a sinking lifeboat that has one too many passengers. We are fighting to prove our value and necessity on the boat, lest we be cast out. And his metaphor makes perfect sense.

Being a human means that we are basically defined by who loves us. God made us so that He was the source of our identity and outside of our relationship with Him, we don’t have any worth at all. He tells us we are valuable, beautiful, and worthy of love. Because our sin severed this direct relationship with our Creator, we have devised this system in which we are desperately looking towards others for approval and worth.

I think one reason people hate clubs and associations that are of a more exclusive nature, for example Greek clubs, is because it reminds everyone of the lifeboat mentality. We are seeking acceptance from a jury of our peers, longing for them to say “You are good enough, you have value to us, we love you.” When faced with rejection from any sort of jury of peers, it hurts. We’ve lost our source of “redemption.” And so, the search for a new system commences. On and on and on until you are deemed “good enough.” Being utterly consumed by this process happens all too frequently.

But really, who is the judge of this confused cycle?  Who says one person is better than the other? None of us are capable of this task—only God. Our value system is completely silly to Him, as He created each person with inherent value. His speciality is creating the best. God’s ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts, as the prophet Isaiah confirms.

Our significance is in Christ alone. Only when we recognize this truth can we love ourselves, others, and God how we should. There’s rescue from this sinking ship of false security and redemption.

(Note. For those who legitimately hate Greek clubs, here’s the thing. Using the “jury of peers” model, I bet you can think of equivalent social environments in your life. The underlying foundation is all the same.)