This is your final task: Write an essay or make a video describing how this challenge has brought reconciliation and/or growth to one of your relationships.
Keep your essay to 700 words or less, or keep your video to four minutes or less. It must be completed and submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2011. The winner will be selected on or before Aug. 15, 2011. You might find it helpful to review the contest rules.
As part of this task, find someone to whom you can recite 2 Corinthians 5:14-20. Then at the beginning of your essay or video, make a statement along the lines of “I have completed all challenge tasks on time and have memorized 2 Corinthians 5:14-20.” Also tell us who heard you recite the passage.
I have completed all challenge tasks on time and have memorized 2 Corinthians 5:14-20. In addition to reciting the passage in person to my mother, I am also posting a YouTube recording of myself reciting the same with my eyes closed.
Boundless changed my life. Not in the pull-me-back-from-the-brink-of-bad-decision way, but Boundless has truly changed the way I think about my circumstances, my faith, and where I fit in the world around me. The summer challenges – both last year and this year – have helped me do far more soul searching than I think I would ever choose to do on my own.
I’ve learned to be more intentional in just about everything I do – from the way I approach my job to the way I interact with my family to the way I ask women out on dates. To say that there’s a night-and-day difference between who I am today and who I was 3 years ago would not be an understatement.
This summer’s challenge in particular has helped me see how I treat relationships in a new light. I have a lot of friends; some I’ve known a handful of months, others I’ve known for a decade or longer. But I tend to take these relationships for granted. I fail to ask for help when I need it and, worse, I fail to offer help when it’s needed.
Neither of these were pleasant revelations.
But understanding the nature of my present relationships is helping me to be intentional about turning things around. I make a point now to take time out of my schedule to step outside myself. I am calling – and visiting – friends more often. I’m spending meaningful time with my family. And I’m stepping outside my comfort zone to make new connections, as my friend Ron recommended during one stage of the challenge.
It hasn’t been easy, nor should it be. The most important thing I’ve learned is that lessons are more meaningful and longer lasting when they’re difficult. Getting your dream job straight out of college doesn’t teach you the value of a good career – a steady string of rejections does. Having everything provided doesn’t teach you the value of money – struggling to learn finances does. And having friends always entertain you and never ask anything in return doesn’t teach you the value of relationships – learning to love one another sacrificially does.
It takes courage to elevate the concerns of a brother or sister in Christ over your own. After a bad day at work, I want nothing more than to vent my frustrations to whoever’s around. But many times, their problems are more important. My job, as a friend, is to love and support others in the body of Christ. I can’t do that when I’m so selfishly focused on my own needs.
In my weekly Bible study, we once discussed the concept of being “sinned against.” I didn’t quite understand the concept then, but I have a solid handle on it now. Sinning is failing to measure up to expectations – typically we talk about God’s expectations for us and neglect the expectations we have for our relationships. I sin against my friend when I fail to listen – when I fail to be there for them the way I expect them to be there for me.
Just like the sin of running from God to pursue worldly indulgences, it’s a sin borne of selfish motives. And just like any other sin, we need to run from it and ask those against whom we’ve sinned for forgiveness. Another hard lesson to learn but important nonetheless.
This year, I had to look not just inside myself but at the way I relate to those around me. I didn’t like everything that I found, but it wasn’t an overly dim picture, either. I am truly blessed in many of my relationships. I’ve also learned ways I can continue to grow and reach out.
Most importantly, I re-learned a few things about dating. I have been looking for the one “right” woman for a while, but I never stopped to ask anyone for advice. Knowing that the people around me care just as much about my search – and have advice to offer – is encouraging.
The daily tasks might be finished for this summer, but I’m looking forward to putting these lessons to good use – and to seeing what new lessons the 2012 challenge has in store for us!