Relationships continue to weigh on my heart. The longing of God for each of us to connect to Him (and one another) with depth and honesty beats loudly in my mind. The tendency of humanity is to settle for much less than God desires in our relationship with Him and with others. Truly connected relationships are what our own hearts long for as well. Contrary to the secular refrain, no one wants to be ‘tolerated.’ We want to be understood, valued and enjoyed. So does God.
“Tolerance” is the cry of the world; “Treasured” is the cry written by God.
Connected relationships are better described as partnerships chosen by those involved. If there is no choice, their is no real relationship. It is the explanation of that oft-asked question, “Why did God give free will if He knew sin would be the result?” Without choice, we could not be in a real, connected relationship with God. If our human relationships aren’t sweetened by choice–if we are dictators to others–we isolate ourselves. If we simply go along to get what we want (or avoid conflict), everyone loses. Choosing connected relationships brings richness to life!
Yet, all around us we see chaos and disconnection. Homes are destroyed by divorce, churches split and our political system spews nastiness continually. No one wants the reality we see, so how have we deteriorated to such a mess? I can answer with my own confession, and I think it speaks for the majority:
I often trade CONNECTION for whatever is easier. You, see I like comfort; the easy road is typically my go-to choice.
Sometimes the easy road actually is a good choice, but “Good is the enemy of best.” We fall to the temptation to ‘go along to get along.’ We sacrifice what we know is right because that is the expedient thing to do. That is how Jesus was consigned to the Cross in 30 A.D. We do the same when we trade God’s desires for the easy road.
Going through the motions may get the job done…but settling is always a travesty.
The work of relationships takes us out of our comfort zones and easy chairs. Understanding the cast of characters that compel us to choose the easy route sheds light that helps us embrace the challenge.
- Sometimes we are not clear on what is actually being asked by a relationship partner. We must be willing to do the hard work to figure out what is needed. Relationships are not about what we get out of them–or what we do for others. However, when we love, we value others and are valued which means we do things for each other!
- Other times we simply cannot do what is being asked and don’t clearly communicate our reluctance–or our needs. Here we have two parallel paths to walk. We need to work on our communication AND build up our strength. If the ‘ask’ is reasonable and beneficial for both but we haven’t developed the skills–it is time to work on those skills!
- Sometimes we simply are not willing to do what is needed. This is particularly common as we age and grow weary. A modicum of maturity restrains our reactions so our relationships appear okay–and sometimes we believe the lie ourselves. Dis-connected hearts, though, are a sham that will eventually implode! Simply going through the motions (or doing what we’ve always done) does not satisfy our hearts or God’s. Settling is the beginning of a dying relationship. Recognizing the danger and valuing what God values will blast this darkness away.
Healthy relationships matter! Make a commitment to do the work of building unity. Ephesians 4:1-3 offers great wisdom:
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.
We have an incredible calling. We have an amazing God who shows us how to relate to others. Christ who left the glories and comforts of heaven to redeem those who would reject Him is our Savior–and our example. Living surrendered to Him will sweeten every relationship. In fact, until we are solid in our connection with God, we will try to make other relationships do what only He can do. He is our source. Plug in and invite others to join!
For more practical tips, visit: ABCs of Relationships.