We live in a world of disposable things: styrofoam cups, paper plates, plastic bags–you’ll probably find at least one of these in every house in America. While there’s a longterm counterpart for most of these items, the disposable options offer a certain convenience. No need to protect them, no worry of damage, no obligation or responsibility.

"Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend." - Albert Camus

Similarly, every so often we “upgrade” our phones to get a new one. The longevity of one of our most prized possessions is rarely longer than two years. We don’t attempt to fix or restore, just get something newer and faster. The same thing goes for your other possessions: television, vacuum, camera, furniture, clothes and likely countless other items.

We see and experience a lot of transition. We move more often and are greater distances apart. We hold more jobs in the first five years of our career than our grandparents held in their entire lives. We have the technology at our fingertips to “connect” with anybody at anytime and more options than ever before on how to live out our lives.

But how does this attitude of disposability and constant change impact our relationships with our friendships, our jobs and our communities? If almost everything in our lives is replaceable, when do we learn to value, savor, respect and cherish what we have? How do we shift our disposable mindset to one that is longer lasting and more committed?

Committed relationships means both parties pledge to make it work outside of conflicting circumstances or inconvenience. These are the kinds of relationship that can start easy and carefree but that also don't derail the minute things go awry or situations shift. You decide to struggle through and mend what was broken. (Band-aid fixes and shallow apologies are far from real repair.) There’s trust and grace and communication, but when those fail, you don't see it as the end: you try again. You see the value in what was and therefore what can still be.

Sure, many times a fresh start can seem easier and has a greater appeal than wading through the mess. And of course there are times when moving on is natural or absolutely necessary. But more often, I think we're only scared. We protect ourselves from heartache by never really committing in the first place. We give up when it gets hard or complicated. We avoid the tough conversations or the truth. We write off anyone that has ever hurt us. We walk away, find someone new and then do it all over again.

We want the ease and comfort of relationships, but none of the work. In the end, we have more acquaintance-level relationships than we can count, but no one we trust to share our hopes and dreams, fears and failures. 

Commit to the work. Agree to the hard part. Struggle through the awkwardness. Reach out with the truth or an apology. Find the middle ground. Be willing to open up and also ask questions. Invest, mend and restore. Build relationships but don’t discard them. Make the effort. Don’t give up.

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Samantha Gratton is a writer and project manager living in Raleigh, NC. She blogs at Moving Peaces, writes and plays music with her husband, and eats something chocolate every day.

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