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August 29; Relationships

Posted on August 28, 2021 at 10:15 AM

Relationships are a complex thing. The very word has many meanings, even in the English language which is generally pretty straight forward in its approach to words. I think the most descriptive definition is the first one that good old Webster gives us: “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.”

Sometimes the relationship with people is one that is created by marriage or by blood, or by a common struggle, belief, fear, attraction or some other thread we may not even understand. We tell ourselves that the only healthy one is when the other person accepts us for who we are – but the truth is we spend much of our time trying to reinforce the idea that we can fit into another’s pre-conceived notion of who we really are. And, if we’re honest, trying to fit someone into our vision of them.

Early on, when growing into a relationship with someone, whether it’s romantic or some other type of connection, we tell ourselves that the differences are what make us fit. We think of the idiosyncrasies of the other person as quirky and cute. We tell ourselves that we love the uniqueness of that person and that they love our little eccentricities. It isn’t until later, when difficult situations arise to test that link, that we start to wonder if our differences are so great that will never fit. Eventually we get to the place where we can’t wait to break the tie because it starts to feel more like a noose. What we once adored becomes a burden and an annoyance.

In marriage (and often in other situations), we offer up the “you can’t change me” excuse as a reason for leaving the tattered link. And if that doesn’t work, we tell ourselves it must not have been a good fit in the first place if we had to change to make it right. That’s why we can be in a crowded room and still feel lonely. Because that feeling of isolation is borne out of the sure belief that we are not heard, understood or have value. I know for sure it’s much more heartbreaking to be in a relationship with someone and feel alone, than it is to actually be alone.

It is only in our relationship with God that we expect to be changed. Lord knows We might be a bit afraid of it, resist it on some level (maybe MANY levels), try and tell ourselves we don’t need it – but deep down we know that He is going to re-wire us in a way that will rock our world. We expect it, and eventually we accept it. And when we do let go, we always see the life-changing peace and incredible freedom it brings.

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” Salvation is the beginning of a relationship that will have us evolving from the moment it starts to the last breath we draw here in our earthly bodies. That giving up of ourselves, the very thing we resist with our human connections, is the key to a perfect and healthy walk with God.

We must remember that we are the ones changing, not Him. Hebrews 13:8 tells us “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” While our relationship with our spouses, or anyone for that matter, will always involve change by both people that is only because we humans are all imperfect – and God is not. When you put our flawed nature up against His perfect presence, we must do the molding in order to reach that place of complete and total perfection.

So, in terms of the relationships in our lives, if we want them to work for the long run we must make them completely God-centric. If we’re joining with another individual, we must both accept that we will be changing - but as God designs, not as we have decided.

And beyond that, we can’t judge or measure the other’s evolution. That is always between an individual and God. Paul said it succinctly in Philippians 2:12 when he said we must ‘work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” And that is why we need to let God do the picking for us. Whether that means a business partner, a best friend or a spouse – who we engage with has to be the person He says we are to be yoked with. And ‘yoked’ doesn’t just mean marriage. Every relationship in our life should be pre-ordained by God.

And when we find ourselves in relationships that seem to be a complete mess that God didn’t ordain (and be honest, we all have those) – let’s remember that, when necessary, He can change those around us just as He can change us. We don’t get to walk away from people just because things get messy. Once we get placed (or place ourselves) in the middle of a bond, we have a responsibility to stick it out. The time to move is only when He says, because we can’t possibly know why we’ve been placed in someone else’s life. God uses every single situation in our lives to make us better – and to help those around us. We are called to be His imager, which means we never ever give up. And if we are told to move on, the connection remains because we can affect someone simply by keeping them in prayer.

And that’s why relationships are a complex thing. But the one thing that is simple is that God is always working for us and that, as we’re told in Romans 8, all things work together for good to them that love God, and to them who are called according to His purpose. Put Him in the middle, and all the stuff on the outside just finds a way to fit together.

 

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