This past weekend I got to travel to Nashville with a few friends and attend the Q Women conference. Anything you need to know about fashion, motherhood, and fair trade everything, you can learn at a Christian conference. We heard from tons of amazing people – Lisa Jo Baker, Deidra Riggs, Jefferson Bethke, Lauren Tomlin, Annie Downs, and more. I would post some pictures of them but the huge hair bun of the woman sitting in front of us is in every single one. They talked about things all across the spectrum, from vocation to raising children with special needs to racism to social media.
(Ok, now I feel like I have to show you the hair bun pictures)
Here’s the thing. No matter what their topic was, they all talked about one thing being the most important: relationships.
Lisa Jo Baker talked about how the Church should be responding to working moms. (By the way, it isn’t should they be working? They are.) Her response was that being in relationship with someone leads to responsibility and care for them. “What happens to her, happens to me.”
Jefferson Bethke talked about the objectification of women (and ultimately the “commodification of people”) and how this happens when we don’t see people as people. When we view people as a means to an end, as a thing, as something that can benefit us, we objectify and commodify them. But when we know someone, we can’t objectify them. He offered the warning that if you are not living life in a healthy way, practicing disciplines like the Sabbath, you will objectify people. You don’t have the energy or ability not to.
The Foremans (the parents of the Switchfoot boys) wrote an amazing book about parenting. My favorite quote from them was, “You can’t influence people without knowing the people you’re influencing.” #micdrop
Annie Downs talked about calling and vocation. She offered the wisdom that when you are trying to figure out your calling, ask other people. Ask for help. When we need to make decisions, when we need to figure out who we are – ask those around you.
Stuart Tutler is the headmaster of New Hope Academy, a school “intentionally reserving 40 to 50 percent of our seats for children from low-income housing.” He and Paige, who helped found the school, talked about how “the best way to change your thinking is relationships.”
Heather Avis, who has two adopted children with down syndrome, said profoundly, “Awareness is good, relationships are key.” She shared with us how children with down syndrome are doing amazing things all over the world, and how “their story becomes our story.”
Donna Freitas talked about social media and relationships. She discussed the difference between being happy and appearing happy – how is that influencing our relationships?
I could go on, but for the sake of time and space, I will stop there. All these people, from all walks of life, all different platforms, all emphasized the same thing: relationships are crucial.
Bear with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)
It is in relationships where true healing happens. It is in the conversations between friends where the past hurts are erased and replaced with new life and truth. It is found around a table, late at night, where people can talk out their struggles and ask the hard questions.
In holiday meals shared by families, where we remember what we have been through and where God has brought us. The times when we pause and are grateful for all we have.
It’s dancing together at midnight in your dorm room during finals week because sanity is escaping you.
Relationships require having the hard conversations that our world isn’t good at having – choose conversation over confrontation and learn how to dialogue. Relationships are where we grow, mature, learn, and let go.
A friend loves at all times. (Proverbs 17:17)
Whether you find yourself in a booth at Chick-fil-a or a conference in Nashville, friendship is important. Learning to trust people and let them into your mess is crucial. It isn’t safe, but it is brave.
FIND YOUR PEOPLE. Search high and low. Try new groups, new churches, sit with a random group of people at lunch for heaven’s sake. Don’t go another day without taking steps towards having people in your life who can speak truth and grace and love and whatever else you might need to hear.
Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:12)
The LORD created us to be in relationship, with Him and with each other. One of the best ways to fight the enemy is through relationship. Let’s battle for one another, spur one another on, and help each other reach deeper levels of intimacy with God. Dream together, cry together, live together, laugh together. Relationship isn’t optional, dear friends, it is absolutely necessary.
Two are better than one…for if either falls, his companion can lift him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:10)