There are two ways to live life. One is to live as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is to live as though everything is a miracle. - Albert Einstein
Time is money. We invest time in people. So we invest money in people.
Economics describes the art of investing money. We invest money in people. So economics describes our relationships with people.
This was a very liberating realization for me! As I read the final chapters of Blue Like Jazz, Miller described a lecture he attended which discussed the power of metaphors. When we think of cancer, we think of "battling" cancer, of "defeating" it. We need "strength" and "perseverance" and "support" to "fight" it. Lots of war metaphors. When we think of relationships, we "invest" our time in people, we want our relationship with them (ie. our investment) to "grow". We "value" people, they are "precious", even "priceless". Lots of economic metaphors.
Now here's the kicker. Economics describes money. We invest money. Relationships describe love. We invest love. So we then equate love with money. We withhold it from people when we want to get something from them, we pour it into them when we think we'll get a good return for our investment. When we find something (or someone) we like, we happily pour money (or love) into it (or them). Love then, becomes nothing more than a commodity!
That was such a huge realization that something is very wrong with our world's model. Love is not like money. If I give you a dollar and you give me a dollar, we both still have a dollar. The same is not true of love. (Incidentally, the same is not true of ideas either... which is exactly the point of blogging!)
My pastor says that relationships are two way streets. I agree with him. One way streets suck. They make it so hard to get to where you're trying to go. You always end up going around in circles, and when you finally find where you want to go, you realize you're at the wrong end of a one way street. That's why I hate driving down town. I always end up on the wrong end of the street. Two way streets are much better. So are streets with lots of lanes. But that's besides the point.
Maps are kinda like pictures, with streets being their individual lines. But every picture has to start from a blank piece of paper, every painting from a blank canvas. Streets too need to start somewhere. One end of the street always has to be the beginning of it. Some dude with a hard hat has to sit at the starting point and go, "hey, Imma make me a road from here to there". And so he starts makin' his street. When he's done, no one knows where it started, but the point is that it has to start somewhere.
Relationships are like that too. Everybody wants to have two way streets, to be loved and valued and all that. But one side's gotta start building it. That's where this economics thing comes in. Suppose I can build one street to wherever I like. Now suppose there's a motorcycle store to the east and a bag store to the west. Clearly I tell my buddy with the hard hat to build a street to the motorcycle store, because its much more valuable to me. I don't see getting much out of a bag store, but a motorcycle store will give me countless hours of jaw dropping sights of those beautiful machines, and possibly many pee-my-pants-its-so-thrilling testrides.
We do this kind of value assignment and value judgment all the time in relationships! We may not notice it consciously, but I think we do it. I know I do it at least. But that's really not how we're supposed to be, y'know? Love isn't supposed to be like money. Its supposed to be like a magnet. Or a light. Or a motorcycle. The more you share it with people, the more you get back. The stronger the magnet, the more things will be attracted to it. The brighter the light, the more lit the room is. The more you share with people about your motorcycle, the more riding buddies you'll have.
Its like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:1. If I speak with the voices of angels but don't love people, I'm nothing more than an annoying cymbal that some bratty kid is banging when someone's trying to study. If we don't love people, we'll never be able to impact them, to bring healing to them, to bring Jesus to them. You know how that saying goes... "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". Cheesy... but true.
So the goal is to change my metaphor of love. It's not an investment, where I have a limited amount to invest. It's something I have an inifinite amount of, and the supply increases the more I use it.