myMISSION

Experience Joy beyond the Surface

flower petal on water's surface

As a college student, I find that my life is characterized by a constant whirlwind of activity. Moving through my day, I am always surrounded by friends, classmates, and professors. But I rarely take the time to get to know these people beyond the surface level. In fact, I could probably recite most conversations I have as if I were reading off a script.

The way the Bible talks about relationships, though, is vastly different from the reality I so often experience. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Being in relationship with others should make everyone stronger and draw everyone involved closer to God. How can we begin cultivating these iron-sharpening-iron relationships?

Start with honesty. When someone asks how you are, it is OK to admit that you are stressed out, scared, or overwhelmed. Moving past surface-level responses, even to basic questions, breaks down the shiny façade we often present to others. This step is so vital to forming authentic relationships that build up one another in Christ.

Share Who You Are

jar of clay

Sharing who we are can be a daunting task. For some, it may come naturally, but for most, it poses a challenge. After all, we are a mix of both God’s image by creation and the fallen reality of sin. Through the grace of God, Christ’s work on the Cross, the power of the Resurrection, and life in the Spirit, we have the potential to shine God’s love in amazing ways. But most of us feel hesitant somehow, perhaps as if the world might judge us as unworthy.

Authentically Honest Relationships

three young women

Recently, one of my friends reached out to me after a few months of us not really contacting each other. Nothing bad had happened between us, but a period of change had come upon us in the form of moving homes, towns, and churches. It’s easy to lose touch with someone we don’t see on a regular basis. We like to convince ourselves that the smartphones ever attached to our hands keep us connected with others. But truthfully, it becomes so much easier to give a person a passing thought (“Oh, I should text her soon.”) and then go about our days until a few months have passed and we wonder what could have happened to the time.

My friend was a bit offended that she hadn’t heard from me since the “Big Move,” and I didn’t blame her. Promises of keeping in touch and hanging out were made but not kept, as they should have been. Instead, I told myself that she was really busy moving and acclimating to a new time in her life so I should give her a little breathing room. And honestly, I had several not-always-pleasant changes going on in my life as well.

Invest in Gospel-Centered Relationships

South Asian women

I got out of my taxi and walked down the street, stopping at Rajani’s* gate. Rajani, a neighbor named Swetha*, and their friend Lukshmi* were talking. I said hello, but what Rajani said next caught me off guard.

“Emily, tell Lukshmi about Jesus!”

My neighbors Rajani and Swetha aren’t followers of Jesus, so this was the last thing I expected to be asked.

“Well, what do you want to know?” I replied.

It turned out that Lukshmi was writing a report for school on Jesus and needed some facts. About an hour later, the girls gathered in my apartment and they drew henna tattoos on me while I shared the gospel.

I gave Lukshmi a Bible and prayed for the girls. I haven’t seen Lukshmi again, but I see Rajani and Swetha whenever I’m out in my neighborhood.

I make it a point to stop at Rajani’s gate and talk with her anytime she’s outside to build my relationship with her. Before that night, I had told her about Jesus many times but was never sure if she understood. The fact that Rajani recognized me as someone who knew about Jesus was a step in the right direction.

What I Learned before Turning 30: Investing in Others

young women talking over coffee

I turned 30 this month. When I turned 29, I searched for one of those “30 Things to Do before Turning 30” lists. However, my search left me uninspired; therefore, I decided to write my own “30 Things I Learned before Turning 30” list. One of the main concepts that came from this was that of investing in other people. The following are a few excerpts from my list:

Growing Deeper in Relationships

Growing Deeper

Picture this: You’ve just met someone new and you’re really excited to get to know them and become friends. Over the next few weeks, you learn more about this person, but in small fragments. You find yourself wishing you were already close friends with this person because you can tell how wonderfully you would get along and how much you would have in common. But it just seems as if you’ll never get there.

Have you ever felt this way? I have. There’s even an unofficial word for it. John Koenig created an online dictionary of words to fill in “holes” in the English language—to give us a sense that we are not alone in some of the ways we feel and think. Koenig describes the “frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone” as adronitis. Do you feel better after hearing that a word semi-exists for this feeling? The thought calms me.

Where 2 or 3 Are Gathered

friends on a bench

I am so blessed and grateful to have loving friends who take time to be intentional and invest in my life. These Christ-centered relationships are incredibly meaningful and encourage me to pour into others. My sweet friend Anna, who is a junior in college, is passionate about building these kinds of authentic relationships, so I asked her to share some of her thoughts and experiences:

Why do you think it is important to grow deeper in relationships?

“Thinking back to my middle school [years], high school [years], and even first years at college, I see how much I was poured into. I’m so grateful to have had such incredible people around me that wanted to invest in me, but I also know the gaps that I felt were not as invested in. I needed people who would ask questions until I was finally open and honest about what was truly going on. I needed people who would send that quick text of encouragement that perfectly matched what I was dealing with. I needed older mentors who would prioritize spending time with me because they wanted to be available for me.”

What are some ways you intentionally invest in friendships?

The Impact of a Friend

two women having coffee

As we look at this month’s focus on relationships, I am drawn to think of how our commitment to friendships impacts missions. When Jesus sent out His disciples on their first missionary journey, He sent them out 2 by 2. We need each other. Even in missions, God wants us to have someone to travel with, to share with, and to do missions with.

I remember Michelle, a friend of mine in a past season of missions. We were ministry partners. We prayed before each house we visited and held each other accountable for spiritual goals. One time when my husband was out of town and I was ill, she stayed with me until I had enough strength to take care of my children. God used her in my life for 5 years until He moved us to another place of service.

Loosening Our Grip on Time for the Gospel

young woman holding pocket watch

One of the first differences you learn about when you’re living in a different culture is how people value time.

In the United States, we love schedules and strictly adhere to them. We spend money on agendas and apps that will help us manage our time. We make sure we’re on time for meetings and lunch dates with friends, because being late says we don’t value other people’s time.

South Asia, on the other hand, is completely different. Being late is OK, whether just a few minutes or a few hours. Things don’t always start at the time they’re scheduled. Getting from one place to another on time is a daily challenge due to traffic in some places.

South Asians don’t value their relationships any less because they’re late or because they see time differently. In fact, they might value them more than Americans. For them, spending time with people, no matter the hour or what they have going on later in the day, is important.

As followers of Jesus, spending time with people should be just as important to us. No matter our culture, people whom we’re close with but who are far from a relationship with Jesus should be those we are investing in regularly.

Sacred Space: Margin in Motherhood

mom and daughter playing

When I was in my early 20s, I stayed busy all the time. If I had downtime, then I felt lazy. Each hour of each day was planned and filled accordingly.

The main issue with this is that each hour of each day filled to the brim leaves little room for interruptions. When we are in relationships with people, interruptions happen. When we have children, more and more and more interruptions occur.

After living in a South Asian culture where relationships take priority over everything and then having 2 babies, I have learned that not every hour of every day needs to be planned in such a way that I cannot allow for interruptions.

It’s in these interruptions that I have found some of the deepest relationships, the most treasured memories with my children, and gospel-centered conversations simply because I was able to add a little margin in my schedule and life to welcome a disruption.

Pages

Back to Top