Have you ever wondered why our closest relationships—with a spouse, family member, and close personal friends—are so complicated? So fragile? So vulnerable?
I have, and I suspect you have, too. And it gets me thinking, “How can that be? Where is God in all of this?
The answers to those questions come pretty quick. First, this isn’t heaven. We live on earth right now and it’s one tough job to make our most important and cherished relationships work well, if not thrive. That’s just the way it is. Relationships are no different than the other challenges of life on earth.
But that shouldn’t surprise any of us because we all–me, you, everyone really—bring a complex set of attitudes, behaviors, and conditions into every important relationship we have that must blend with the other person’s version of the same things!
Below is my take on the pieces of baggage we bring on the flight into our most important relationships:
- Anger and bitterness
- Big “life changes”
- Narcissistic behavior
- Individual domination
- Lack of life balance
- Failure to compromise
- Money issues
- Lack of commitment
- Lack of communication
- Lack of effort
- Lack of forgiveness
- Lack of loyalty
- Time allocation
I know. Like I said earlier. This is tough. Our most important relationships are like the most difficult puzzle we have ever tried to complete. (BTW…why is there always a “missing piece”?)
Relationships never just “take care of themselves.” They require commitment, self-awareness, unselfishness, and willingness to change and grow, of course.
Where to start on making them work well is the key question. I begin with a complete break from an INWARD “me focus” to an OUTWARD “others focus.” I remember that God accepted me through Christ even though I did not deserve it. And I keep top of mind that my relationship with God is more important than any other relationship I will ever have.
Along with seeking wise counsel from mature Christians, here is the scriptural road-map–my “go-to” promises from God’s Word—that I use to apply salve to relational wounds that are hurting. There are SO many more, but the combination of these seems to resonate with me in a powerful way.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
“My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.” James 1:19
“Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes.” Proverbs 14:29
“Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone.” 2 Peter 1:5-6
The good news in all of this is that God has given us instruction and hope to heal our most important relationships.
All we need to do is summon his loving hand to walk alongside our most cherished relationships.
Summon his direction with an open heart and humble spirit.
Summon his wisdom and discernment to clearly reveal what he would have us do.