I drove my high school kids to school recently. As we left our development, we noticed my friend who teaches at the school, pull out behind us. A few days prior, I worked on invitations for a party here at my house, and I’d forgotten to invite her, though she is a dear, dear person to me. As I drove home, I wondered if my heart was too small for all the relationships God has blessed me with. Not in a Grinch-like way, but simply because I don’t feel like I give people enough, or some fade from memory.
When one of my kids shared about a friend whose parents were walking through something devastating, I wanted to rescue. I offered to spend time with the friend, though I’m not sure that will ever happen. (Why would a high school student want to talk to me, a stranger?) As I thought about it further, I realized how little margin I had to counsel someone.
In times like these, I wish I had unlimited time and heart space to hug everyone I know, walk through every pain alongside. But I can’t. I’m not God. I can’t be everywhere at once. And if I spend-spend-spend my energy on everyone, those closest to me suffer.
There will always be tension on this earth, and trying to decide who gets what part of me is one of those tensions. I’m thankful for Jesus’ rough model. He loved the crowds, spoke to them, instructing many. But he had a smaller subset He poured into, maybe fifty or so. He reserved His more intimate time with twelve, then His deepest time with three. And of course, His time with God (the One) trumped all else.
I’ve heard that we only have capacity to be acquaintances with 150 people. In this crazy Facebook age, that number has exponentialed, but our capacity remains the same. No wonder we’re harried. No wonder I fret over forgetting a friend when I’m inviting folks to an event. No wonder we feel stretched beyond measure.
All I can do in this conundrum is refocus on Jesus’ method: choose the One. When I’m walking closely with God, my ear bent to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, I know exactly who to choose, when to retreat, and when to spend myself. Instead of worrying about how to order my relationships, categorizing them (are they one of the twelve? The crowd?), and wondering if I have enough to give, I simply await my instructions for this day, with the people God has placed right smack dab in front of me.
Recently? My new friend who I met at a conference this year are having breakfast. I am also choosing my friend Kimberly who prays-prays-prays like a wonderwoman. We’re meeting at the park to pray. And it’s my kids who seem to need me far more than when they were toddlers. Teens can be entirely needy! And it’s my husband who worries about my somber mood of late and cheers me up. It’s those folks. And that’s enough. My heart can enlarge for them.
I can choose the One, and that One will order my relationships.