For a couple weeks in my life, on separate occasions, a long time ago, at summer camp (of course), I was attracted to what might be termed “bad boys.” This was, I should mention Jesus summer camp, so the level of risk was somewhat less than whatever is possible at just any old summer camp. My idea and your idea of “bad boys” I’m sure, is miles apart – but let’s just say these bad boys had mohawks, listened to punk rock music, and were way more familiar with alcohol and drugs than I was. (Not that, I’d like to make clear – either of them were indulging in those particular things at Christian summer camp.)
Pretty much the whole thing was a cliche – good girl likes bad boy all tied up in a neat summer romance. It would have made (and has made many) a great teen novel. I’m still kind of embarrassed by the whole thing, and this is the internet, which might last forever, so I’m not going into any more details.
Sometimes relationships can be off the charts risky – getting involved with criminals, physical and emotional abusers and sending money to Nigerian princes. These are the types of relationships that often show up in the news and the trashy magazines I occasionally find myself reading in waiting rooms. But I think focus on these relationship outliers obscures the fact that…
All Relationships are Risky.
Why? Because they ask us for at least three things –
1. To be Revealing – The longer you know someone – the more they reveal of themselves – and the more you reveal yourself to them. Whereas your first conversations might have started out with “How did you start coming to this coffee shop?” or “What’s your favorite band?” you probably moved on to topics that are more like “What do you hope for the next five years” and “What’s something you really regret in life.”
2. To be Invested – The longer you are in relationships with people, the more they ask of you, and the more you ask of them. It might have been fine to stick with the surface at first, but over time you ask for larger things – meeting the parents, a shoulder to cry on, overnight babysitting!
3. To be Intentional – It’s possible to reveal a lot of personal details, but never talk about why those things were important to you, or how they affected you, or whether they might still bother you, and if you want to change that. And EVEN if we got that far (which honestly, is pretty far, I think). What about the long run – making changes for the future? Relationships where we can be both vulnerable, but also cultivate change – can be few and far between. We want to become our best selves, but it can be easy to stick to the surface, even with good relationships – moving toward holding one another accountable to change and growth is a huge risk!
Of course – These things are also why it’s so rewarding to have good friends – we like to have others who know us, have our backs, and want us to be our best selves – and are willing to commit to that.
Can you think of other Risks (and Rewards) that come along with relationships? I’d love to hear your thoughts.