For those of you who are wondering about the subject line, no I'm not starting a band though I think that "faded red" would be a very sweet name for one.
Actually I'm sitting at the base of magnificent Mt Adams in a little town called Troutlake, WA. It's one of those towns where the landmark that reminded me where to turn right off the highway was a llama named Eek.
For a few summers I was involved with a camp Jonah Ministries- it's a relational outdoor crazy adventure camp (and no it didn't rub off on me at all:) Every year they have a theme and this year it's...
"GET REAL- relationship not religion"...
...and this is on all their faded red camp t-shirts. So there's one good reason for the subject.
The theme they have chosen is tight (or heavy, awesome, sweet action) and right away I thought to myself YES what a great theme!! I always heard people say that phrase when I first entered the church scene but I had no clue what it meant.
"I mean come on, how does God want or physically have a relationship with people and how can you say it's not about relgion? (Just look at our world, I thought, of coarse it's about religion)." And the next thought was usually, "even if He does, why would He want relationship with me, I'm not churcy or even anything special? In fact, sometimes I just feel like church people are fake and playing a stupid game and trying to pretend like they are good kids when we all know they are faking." And to be honest, I also kinda pictured God or Jesus as a mad father-guy up there just waiting to smack me when I did something wrong; I wasn't all that convinced that He cared too much for me or for relationship.
But I guess that's kind of the point of the theme isn't it?
You can't really trust a person or believe they are being honest when they say how much they really genuinely care about you unless you risk finding out the truth by being in a legit relationship with them. The proof lies in the relationship, not the statement or the religion.
The hard part about this proof for me is how our world (especially Western world) views relationship to start out with. Relationship is posed as something we fall into rather than pursue. It's something that happens to us rather than something we seek out or intentionally invest in. Most of our earliest relationships begin either out of convenience, a specific need in ourselves we are trying to have met, or possibly a common interest (and we don't always mature out of this junior high mentality, do we?). If we are being honest, this is how most of us learned how relationships begins; it's no wonder the negative affects when passing these thoughts over into romance and religion.
Real relationship with Jesus and with people is not something that happens to us, or a thing that we just fall into and out of, or a convenient friendship that will end when the summer does (or the school year, or whatever the season might be).
Relationships that are the strongest, the most genuine, and life-lasting are the ones that we seek out constantly and invest in appropriately; the ones that we pay careful attention to maintain (out of love, not obligation or expectation), and the ones that we let change us and grow/challenge us and teach us in positive ways (even when it hurts).
Did you know that those relationships actually exist? It's true and they exist with people and with God... just another faded red lesson.
As I've shared previously, I'm leaving Portland for this season. Portland is the "City of Roses" and it has been my beloved home for 7 years. I associate roses with red. Though I have so many incredible memories in this lovely red roses city, and relationships that I intend to invest in deeply even once I'm gone, I sense that Portland itself is faded red in my life for the time being. Don't misunderstand me, I could never give up or stop loving the color red. In fact sometimes when a color fades, it's not that we've given up, it actually means that we have truly loved it well, just like a faded sweater that we still sport around town even... you never know when faded might come back in style right?!
Here's to getting real, enjoying relationship, and learning those faded red lessons...