Relationships are Hard

For the first six hours, things were good.

Flying planes, dousing fires, being heroes, playing camp, driving trains…these two buddies were having a blast.

There was no arguing. There was no whining. There was no refereeing.

Fighting hadn’t been a problem, sharing wasn’t an issue, and boredom was out of the question.

They were experiencing “Buddy Bliss,” and it was great.

But then I heard a scuffle, some frustrated tones, and a little pair of feet running up the basement stairs.

Here we go! The blessed blissfulness has bid farewell and the grumpy grief has paid the buddies a much, unwelcome visit. 

I know I should be a bit more optimistic about the relational ability of my three-year old son, but I’m not.

And because I’m not, I was fully expecting one or more of the following accusatory statements to come barreling out of his little, ticked-off mouth:

“He took my ______ !”

“I’m upset!”

“I don’t want to play ______ !”

“He won’t share!”

“He ruined my______ !

“I’m not playing with him anymore!”

But he didn’t. In fact, no combination of any one of those statements (that I’ve heard before) came spilling forth.

Standing in the kitchen with these sad, blue eyes, he looked up at me and said something all together different.

“Mommy, it’s hard having friends over.” 

Though I can’t verify this, I’m pretty sure my mouth was awkwardly hanging open as I attempted to wrap my ears around his profound words.

“Oh bub, you’re SO right. Having a friend over isn’t always easy, is it? In fact, sometimes it’s really hard.”

After doling out two packages of fruit snacks and then discussing the plane-sharing plan, I walked up the stairs a few minutes later with a smile on my face and empathy in my heart.

Caden hit the nail on the proverbial heart!

Being in relationship with other sinners is hard work.  

And though I’d like to think that I may have a few more skills to bring to the relational table than my three year-old son, I also know that in the midst of relational trials, I don’t always have the perspective that Caden had today.

Unfortunately, I, too, have had my moments when some less than godly statements and thoughts have come spewing out of my accusatory mouth and mind.

“They never  ______.”

“I’m upset!”

“I’m always the one who ______.”

“I’m done trying!”

“I wish they’d just ______.”

“I’m so tired of that.”

“They always do ______ .”

On and on it goes…the list of my relational woes.

No matter the person, no matter the friendship…

Relationships can be frustrating, difficult, and down-right YUCKY because I’m frustrating, difficult, and down-right IMPERFECT! 


In one of my all-time, non-fiction favorites (Relationships: A Mess Worth Making), Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp do such a beautiful job describing the messiness found in relationships and then articulating what can happen when a relationship-redeeming God is LORD over our hearts and relationships.

After my buddy-intervention this morning, I couldn’t help but recall and revisit some of the principles found within the pages of this meaningful book.

I’ll leave you with this one; I’ve been chewing on it all day.

“We are sinners with the capacity to do great damage to ourselves and our relationships. We need God’s grace to save us from ourselves. But we are also God’s children, which means that we have great hope and potential— not hope that rests on our gifts, experience, or track record, but hope that rests in Christ. Because He is in us and we are in Him, it is right to say that our potential IS Christ. We are well aware that we are smack-dab in the middle of God’s process of sanctification. And because this is true, we will struggle again. Selfishness, pride, an unforgiving spirit, irritation, and impatience will certainly return. But we are neither afraid nor hopeless. We have experienced what God can do in the middle of the mess. This side of heaven, relationships and ministry are always shaped in the forge of struggle. None of us get to relate to perfect people or avoid the effects of the fall on the work we attempt to do. Yet amid the mess, we find the highest joys of relationship and ministry.” -Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making 


4 thoughts on “Relationships are Hard

  1. Oh, they sure are. It’s wonderful that Caden is learning this lesson early and he’s being helped by Mom and Dad to think about them in godly ways.

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