Today, we had a human chain tossing bags in a line when a worker shouted out a quote that I often forget exists:

“A chain’s only as strong as its weakest link!”

What a great saying. But really. It’s succinct and it got me thinking.

Chains don’t have to be human links passing things from one to another. Chains can also be teams or even connections with people. Getting very one on the same page, up to speed, working together.

Relationships work like this too, both of friendships and of togetherness. A relationship only holds up if everyone is on the same level, or else it will bend if not collapse when the weaker link is being pressured over capacity.

My friend is still heartbroken today that a friend hasn’t acknowledged her “happy birthday” wishes. She’s questioning the strength of their friendship, what she has done wrong. But the way I see it, she shouldn’t be so self-conscious because her friend is the weak link in the chain. Their friendship is only as strong as the less willing person is willing to upkeep it.

But I think it’s important to differentiate between a weak link and just plain old differences.

Sometimes things don’t always go over smoothly between people because they pick out flaws that aren’t flaws but instead differences. Just because someone wants to stay close to his brother his whole life doesn’t mean he’s not adventurous or is too attached – he could also just be loving and find family too strong of a bond to abandon. Just because someone doesn’t text or call back doesn’t mean she’s a poor friend, maybe she’s just distracted…or not wanting to be distracted by technology.

I think I’m going to use my chain theory from now on to identify weak links and to differentiate the flaws from the differences. To embrace the differences and to help my peers get up to par where we struggle as a whole. And to do so with understanding because I know there are times when I lag behind.

I guess weak links in the chain are just an opportunity for learning and testing love and patience for one another.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; It is not arrogant.”
-1 Corinthians 13:4

My week has been rough, but this day was subtly amazing.

We made ligonberry Swedish crepes for breakfast. It was a communion day at church and I was hugged like family. The pastor quoted the same passage that I had recently shared with Jeff. We cleaned off 20 or 30 snowy cars as the people left. We had good conversations and baked soda bread and made stirfry vegetables. Then we met his brother and brother’s wife to cross-country ski and had a beer after. The weather was perfect and the sun was shining. We made pasta and ate banana pudding. We watched the Olympics and The Help. We talked about people and gossip and respect and how people treat each other.

And when I left, I had sweet goodbye and was thanked for my persistence in convincing Jeff to try something he didn’t think he wanted, to watch that movie. It sounds silly, but it spoke volumes. Gentle persistence. Comfort zones. That came up a lot today.

Taking the time to have fun and be patient to understand, that makes such a difference. Slowing down enough to enjoy the smallest things makes anything feel refreshing. The pastor quoted 1 Corinthians today, and I thought it was a good thing to remember.

And in other news, I’m back writing full swing for the Athenian – and illustrating, too.