Three people sitting together on the beach, engaging in relationships as they talk

By Jeanne Takenaka

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If I’m honest, sometimes engaging in relationships comes hard to me.

All summer, I’ve watched them flit from tree branch to tree branch. And throughout the summer, I’ve sighed because I couldn’t grab my phone and open the camera setting before they flew to hide in some tree branch.

These little yellow-breasted birds fascinate me! As I prepared to have my time with Jesus on our deck recently, one of these birds landed on a nearby bird feeder. By the time I lifted my camera it disappeared. 

Again I sighed and asked God why He couldn’t have let it stay a few more seconds. 

I opened my Bible, but I kept peeking at that post . . . hoping. 

A woman taking a nature photo with a camera

I listened as birds trilled their various songs while breezes ruffled through the leaves of neighboring trees. Small spider webs sparkled in the early morning sun.

And the thought came to me. As much as I love snapping photos of God’s creation, sometimes He just wants me to take it in, to breathe in His beauty. To savor the wonder of His creativity. Cameras are wonderful things, but they can be a distraction, a hiding place.

A man snapping a close-up photo of a huge crashing wave...sometimes taking photos of nature is easier than engaging in relationships with people

I am the woman who’s hidden behind the camera and taken photos of others. The one who volunteered to press the button so I wouldn’t have to be in that picture. The one who hides behind life’s lenses because it feels safer than putting myself out there and engaging in relationships. Sometimes, it feels easier to hide than to risk being vulnerable.

Truths about engaging in relationships

Though God probably smiles when we delight in His creation, He doesn’t want us to spend all our time posed behind the lens. As amazing as it is to capture a snapshot of His beauty, if we’re always behind the camera—if we’re hiding—we can’t participate in the middle of life. We keep ourselves separate. 

A group of people engaging in relationship while rafting down the river;

For much of my life, I’ve chosen the fringes, trying to protect my heart from pain. The thing is—fulfillment comes when we’re engaging in relationships and in life. Sometimes God allows us to view life from the fringes, but He knows intimacy, satisfaction, and joy only come when we engage with others. 

We’re all human, and it’s a kind of a given we will hurt each other. Most of the time it’s not on purpose. But part of becoming more like Jesus means learning both how to change when we hurt someone and how to forgive when we’ve been hurt. This is part of what makes engaging in relationships feel risky.

Meme with the words, "We can try to avoid the pain in life, but in doing this, we also miss out on the joy." on a backdrop of two small girls playing together

We can try to avoid the pain in life, but in doing this we also miss out on the joy. To experience the depth of joy that comes from really living, we must risk being hurt. We must choose vulnerability. We must brave engaging with others.  

Conclusion

As satisfying as it is to capture an amazing photograph of something or someone, this pales in comparison to the fulfillment that comes when we engage in relationships and choose intimacy with others. 

God created us with a need to intertwine our lives . . . both with Him and with others. When we withhold ourselves from others because we’re afraid of being hurt, we deny ourselves a deeper experience of life. When we’re engaging in relationship with others, that need is sated.

Two teenaged girls taking photos of each other engaging in relationships

I never did capture a photo of that yellow-breasted beauty that morning. Instead, I came away with a poignant reminder that life is meant to be lived in front of the lens, not behind it. 

What about you? What have you hidden behind to protect yourself from being hurt? What helps you engage in relationships with others? 

Click to Tweet: Part of becoming more like Jesus is learning both how to change when we hurt someone and how to forgive when we’ve been hurt.

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