The person I look up to the most in the history of existence is Jesus. I have so much to learn about relationships from him. These are three of the best things I've learned so far.
1. Forget the stereotypes.
2. It's okay to be in the moment with someone.
3. Take time to connect with people.
The first I learned from the story of the woman at the well. You can find it in John 4. There are a few things to note about this story. She was a Samaritan woman. Jesus was Jewish and as a cultural rule they were not aloud to be friendly, Samaritans and Jews hadn't been getting along for a looooong time. She was also a she. As it still can be in the Middle East a man is not allowed to talk to a woman who was not a sister, mother or wife in public. These things didn't stop Jesus. The last thing to point out is she was getting water at the hottest time of they day. Water is normally gotten in the morning and in the evening. She must have been avoiding people in order to go at noon. None of these things bothered Jesus, he blew those stereotypes right out of the water. Because He did she ended up being the one to help save the entire village by introducing them to Jesus.
I too need to ignore stereotypes. I can become friends with the trash collector who walks through Phnom Penh squeaking the squeak toy with their cart of trash and recycling. I can't let a little thing get in the way of a relationship that can help change the world. Neither can you.
The second story is one that I've read recently and it moved me, it's in John 11. You see, Jesus was a teacher and a very in demand one at that. He traveled around all the time to share God with people. He had his home base where he went to be with his friends, the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus who were all siblings. This was his getaway spot. On one trip he got word that his good friend Lazarus was really sick and possibly dying, they were asking Him to come at once. Jesus knew he had work to finish with the people he was with, so he stayed to finish the task. Once he was done it was too late, his friend had died. Martha, the oldest came out to the road to meet Jesus and she cried to Him. "He died, you weren't here and he died." Jesus let her know that God had plans for this, that Lazarus was just sleeping and that His glory would be seen. They continued on to the house together. When they got really close to the house Mary came out to Jesus (as did all the grieving people who followed Mary). She was really upset, she said some things to Jesus and she was crying. Jesus again knew that there was a bigger story here, that He was going to do some really cool stuff but yet he allowed himself to feel her emotions and He cried. Jesus cried with Mary and the others. He was present and in the moment with them. The story does get better, they went to the grave and Jesus asked the stone to be rolled away (they use a cave to bury people). They were a bit hesitant because Lazarus had been dead for four days and the smell would be quite bad by then but they knew when Jesus asked something He had a good reason. They rolled the stone away and Jesus prayed to God saying that God had plans for this story and He would be glorified. Then He commanded that Lazarus come out. . . SO HE DID! Lazarus was raised from the dead and given back to his family. Jesus knew all of this would happen but he was willing to be present and empathize with his friends.
I want to be present and express and understand the same emotions my friends here might be going through, even if I know the outcome will change or is not to my understanding. I want to be present.
The third story is a favorite, it's in Mathew 19. Jesus, the in demand speaker and healer, had just finished another meeting. He must have been swarmed by admirers and people just curious to see him up close. There was a crowed of kids standing off to the side who wanted to see him too, the disciples (Jesus' students) saw the kids and tried to shoo them away from the busy, in demand teacher. Jesus saw this and stopped everything he was doing, called the disciples out for shooing the kids and then called all the kids up to himself. He stopped his busy schedule to spend time with kids. He told them stories, played with them and he blessed them. What a great lesson. He took time to connect. He didn't let his busy schedule get in the way of an opportunity.
I need to be reminded that while my work is important, my projects need to be done it's completely okay to stop and connect with a kid, a coworker or a friend. People hold value and I need to enjoy their company, even if it means changing my plans.
There is so much to learn from Jesus about relationships. No matter what your religious beliefs it's impossible to ignore the fact that Jesus was a genuine man and has a lot to teach about how to have relationships. I hope to take these three lessons and apply them to my life here, especially here in Cambodia. I want to live a life that makes a difference, not because I'm so special but because it's Jesus that people see in my actions.
I challange you to take a look at the way you do relationships. Don't let stereotypes stand in your way, it's okay to be in the moment with people and take time out of your schedule to be with people, your kids, your spouse and your friends.