you can breathe now

After starting to write this blog I’ve realized I have a lot to say about what it looks like to love your neighbor. I think in response to that, I have decided to start a little mini-series on here. I think I’m going to unofficially call it “Adventures in loving those around us” … Sounds a little cheesy but I think it’s something my heart is being drawn to. So I’m going to start going big instead of going home and I’m going to write about things I’m observing.
I’m going to start off a little on the light side and talking about loving that neighbor that’s your bestie…
I also realize that I have said a lot about relationships lately, yet at the same time I haven’t said enough. I haven’t been able to really put into words the things that have been mulling around in my head as of late. So here’s another attempt…
During one’s first year of Seminary there are a series of tests that you have to take to find out more about yourself and what you need to work on in Seminary. One of them is the infamous Myers-Briggs. Upon taking it I wasn’t shocked to find out I’m a pretty strong Extravert. Not new news to me. I’ve always known that I’m a people person. I’m fueled by people.
In Seminary and ministry alike it’s important to know what fuels you. If you’re an introvert than that’s important to recognize and embrace so that you can refuel every once and a while with some alone time. If you’re an extravert, like a lot of pastors, it seems as if you are golden, considering that in ministry you are often with people.
So last week, after several days of being with people all day, I should have been feeling great, right? Wrong. I was exhausted. It’s a common misconception that Extraverts can and will be fueled by being with people – any people group. Being in Seminary I have discovered that this is very untrue, especially for me.
It can basically be distinguished by a question asked of me on Friday night by one of our incoming students. After confessing that I was exhausted even though our orientation had gone so well and I was loving every moment of it, I had said something about although I am an extravert, this kind of thing sometimes drain me more than fuel me. Then he asked, “So, who do you have in your life that refuels you without you being a resource to them?”
It was a complicated question, especially coming off of a few days of being introduced as “Alicia Vela, President of SA.” I had my “president” hat on at all times. It’s exhausting always being the person with the answers. Even though for the most part I love this position, it is exhausting.
The question this new friend asked me got me thinking. Who in my life are the people that fuel me? As an extravert, where do I go for some refueling time? Who in my life allows me to hang out with them without being a resource to them?
It was pretty obvious because that particular night, instead of going home or going out with the group of people who were all going to hang out, I went to the apartment of two close friends and watched a movie. I was on E after a crazy week and instead of being alone, I chose to go hang out with two people that refuel me. Sure, I didn’t get a ton of sleep that night but the next morning I was ready for another day of crazy orientation. ((disclaimer: I have several people in my life here like this, these two aren’t the only ones, just a recent example.))
See, in ministry (and in Seminary) we need to be able to be honest with ourselves about who in our lives are life-giving. Who do we go to when we are exhausted and need nothing more than to sit on a couch and watch a dumb movie. Who do we let our guard down with completely, enough so that they become insiders in our world.
There’s a quote by an author I love that encourages us to seek out people that think the way we think. To surround ourselves with others that see life as an adventure, that help us to see the beauty all around us. I would also encourage us to find the people that accept us when we have nothing left to give. The people who embrace us in those moments.
Who is it in your life? Who are the people that you’re never too tired to see? Who are the people in your life who you let see all of you? The people that show up no matter what?
Once you have identified those people, show up for them. Friendship is a two way street. It is hard, it is messy, it is sometimes complicated and hard. But it is one of the most beautiful things we have on earth. We need to show our friends the respect and honor that this vulnerability deserves. We need to be there when it’s hard and painful, when it’s pee your pants funny, when it’s boring, when it’s awkward … we need to be there at all times, in all seasons. Even when we don’t know what to say. Even when we’ve done wrong and don’t know how to fix it.
Because we were called to love one another. And this is just one aspect of that love.

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