“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34),
If you are brave and accepted last week’s challenge to make thirty minutes of space in your life (Creating Space – Part 1), then you probably realize how hard it is to slow down and stop doing. Though we are human beings, we live like human doings. In American culture, doing trumps being. We are the loser in that equation.
This week, I want to take our challenge with space a step further. One of the places where we suffer the most from lack of space is in our relationships. Richard Swenson writes, “We must have some room to breathe. We need freedom to think and permission to heal. Our relationships are being starved to death by velocity. No one has the time to listen, let alone love. Our children lay wounded on the ground, run over by our high-speed good intentions. Is God now proexhaustion? Doesn’t He lead people beside the still waters anymore?”
Unfortunately, we get used to treating our relationships, even with those that we love dearly, like a project. We do our duty and move on. Creating relational space turns that upside down. When we realize that space is where life is found, we bring space into our relationships, and the fresh air of unrushed time breathes new life into stale interaction.
This week’s challenge is to create relational space in your life with someone you love. The task may be more arduous than it appears.
There are two necessary ingredients to creating quality relational space. Neglecting either of these ingredients is like leaving butter out of a cake recipe. The cake won’t be worth eating. The first ingredient of relational space is the absence of busyness. This doesn’t mean that you are never busy, just that during the spacious time set aside for relationship, busyness is set aside. This means no distraction, multitasking, or agenda. The time is for pure enjoyment.
The second ingredient of relational space is a generous dollop of time. I know so many people who genuinely desire quality relationships, but they always pursue this on a clock. They think that thirty minutes or an hour is plenty of time, but relationships cannot be rushed and or timed. While we all have responsibilities to handle, if we always are on the clock, we are communicating that the next agenda item is more important than the relationship. I realize that we cannot always be open-ended with our time, but if we are never open-ended, then what is that saying about our true priorities?
These two ingredients are like muscles that need exercising. We will be making real progress when we become comfortable with times when we are not busy and are able to build wide margins around our time with those we love without feeling antsy about all that we’ve left undone.
As with last week’s challenge, don’t be discouraged if your spacious relational time does not go as well as you imagined. Quality relational time takes practice. Grasp the vision of what life might be like ten years from now if we are regularly experiencing the joy of simply being with people we love.