Saturday, August 29, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
1) Relationships are messy, painful, delightful, fulfilling and necessary.
2) My benefit from a relationship is directly related to my investment in the relationship, but the dividends may be way out in the future.
3) It is very difficult to avoid relationships. They may be good or bad, but there is usually a relationship somewhere in your life.
4) The other person(s) in the relationship play a major role in the quality of the relationship.
5) No relationship status is forever. Even my relationship with God changes +/-
6) My worth as a person is not determined by my relationship with other people.
7) My worth as a person is only determined by my relationship with God.
8) I have an influence on relationships with and between other people +/-
I have started a study in 1 Corinthians. This is a great book for me and my church right now. There have been several people/families leave our church for various reasons, and those left behind are starting to feel a bit worried. I even felt abandoned when my close friends decided to serve in a sister church. While their decisions was not a surprise, it still stung. I have several relationships in my life that are stinging right how. My relationship with my spouse, my children, my neighbors, my church and other groups I participate in.
Perhaps all of this is a test of my faith and where my loyalties lye. CHANGE seems to be a common thread running through all of my relational hardships. For some, the change is with the other person for the others, the change is within me or my resistance to change.
In ALL of my relationships, communication is the key that unlocks the barriers causing distress on the relationship. Unfortunately for me, those closest to me are the ones I have a hard time communicating with. Maybe it's because I have tried it before and it didn't work so I'm tired of trying. Maybe it's because I am afraid to rock the boat even more by expressing myself.
It seems a lot easier to help other people with their relationship issues because my emotions are not usually at stake. Recently, I agreed to mentor a young lady (teenager) who is taking extreme measures to get her ducks in a row and keep them there. She is living in an environment that totally supports those goals. As her mentor, I have thought deeply about what will happen to her and her ambitions when she is no longer living in that controlled environment. I felt scared for her. She has a good plan for her induction into uncontrolled environment living and I believe she has what it takes to accomplish her goals. The most important goal she'll need is the one to implement when the ideal goal fails or is harder than anticipated.
While the end goal is important, the process of getting to that goal by far more important. For it is all of the peaks and valleys one must walk through on the way to the goal.
Relationships are goals with people. The peaks and valleys we experience with that person flavor the relationship. Right now many of my relationships are very salty, sometimes even bitter, but there are some sweet moments.
What about your relationships? Sweet? Salty? Bitter? Bland? What sustains you through the unpleasant seasons of your relationships? Your relationship with God Almighty is the most important relationship you'll ever have. It is so important that, when we invite Jesus Christ into our hearts, God gives us His Spirit to assist us with this important relationship.
"For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual." 1 Cor. 2:11-13
I don't always understand what God is trying to teach me through my relationships, but I can rely on the promise mentioned above, that the Holy Spirit lives within me and will help me understand the thoughts of God. I believe that spiritual understanding will then make my other relationships more meaningful for we are all made in the image of God.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Here are my thoughts (blue) and the thoughts of my friend Carol (green). Reading these thoughts that were written a couple of weeks ago is encouraging to me because God has been and continues to walk with me through all of my relationships. The main take away from all of this thinking is that God wants to be number one. "No other gods (or relationships) before me". God told that to the Israelites in the book of Exodus. My loyalty and allegiance is to God first. When His love abounds in my heart, He is then able to love through me in all of my other relationships, marriage, parenting, friendships, work, neighbors, acquaintances and strangers. It is my hearts desire to freely allow God to love my husband through me, to love my children through me, to love my friends and...well you get the picture. Not my love...His love.
How does your relationship with the ones you love reflect your relationship with the lover of all…God?
When God’s love reigns in my heart then the ability to love unconditionally rules the relationship. But what about the different types of love mentioned in the Bible?
There are three types of love mentioned in the Bible. 1. agape (unconditional love) 2. eros (sexual love) 3. PHILEO
(brotherly love or personal affection and it expects a return.)
Jesus loves everyone with "agape" love, and He tells us to have "agape" love towards everyone. (It's pronounced A-gop-a)
What happens when you loose eros toward a spouse but you still agape them? Is intimacy with a spouse connected to intimacy with God? We are made in the image of God and he designed our bodies. If my intimacy with God has increased and grown deeper, why does my intimacy with my spouse seem to be growing weaker? According to the triangle model of relationships if the man and the woman are at the bottom of the triangle and God is at the top, then as BOTH partners advance toward God, they also naturally come closer to each other. If one spouse’s relationship advances toward God and the other one doesn’t, then they remain apart until the other spouse “catches up.”
This is a dangerous place for the enemy to step in and create doubt of love for each other, anger, hatred and possibly separation. Christian couples need to guard their hearts and their marriage.
This would be where the servant heart comes into play and the agape love takes over.
How does your relationship with God, influence your relationship with those you love? Most of the time, my relationships with those I love becomes richer because of my relationship with God. I am more compassionate and sensitive to their needs and hurts.
Do you separate your spiritual relationships and physical relationships? I think the ability to love at all in any form is a spiritual thing and it is impossible to separate spiritual from physical. I believe one motive is dominate over the other. It is our choice as to which one rules our lives.
Is there a need to separate spiritual and physical relationships, or can one love spiritually and physically at the same time?
What is a healthy way to make positive changes in a relationship? Positive change usually occurs successfully when you take time to listen to and understand the other person/group that you want to make changes with. The only change you can actually make is of yourself. Others must make their own changes, but you can influence their choice to change. Collaboration is a good technique for groups and one-on-one. Positive feedback to the other person or persons creates an environment conducive to positive change.
When is it time (if ever) to sever a relationship? How can you know if you should hang on and never let go of a relationship with a loved one?
The commitment made to the other person or group determines the need for ending a relationship. Some relationships are temporary and when the goal of that relationship is met, then the relationship usually ends. However, if a lifetime commitment is made between two individuals or an individual and a group, then all avenues of reconciliation and restitution should be made before considering severing a relationship. If a relationship is not safe, then the person in danger has every right to protect themselves and remove themselves from the danger before cautiously seeking reconciliation. Only the unconditional love of God could allow me to love someone who wants to hurt me.
Here are my thoughts: Without a relationship with God, there cannot be unconditional love toward a spouse. We don’t’ know what it looks like, feels like, tastes like, or smells like. We can only give our human best to attempt to love. Once we KNOW God, and have experienced His unconditional love, then we are REQUIRED to love in that manner, EVERY man, not just the ones we have great personal relationships with. That means the teenager that cut you off, the old man that cussed you out, the cashier who short changed you, the boss who torments you, the newspaper delivery boy who daily tosses your paper in the bushes or on the roof, the hateful mother-in-law, and on goes the list. By practicing unconditional love, expecting nothing in return, we are daily growing in the grace, knowledge and image of God. Once we KNOW God, we are more acutely aware that love is a choice, and there really is only one choice to make, the same one Christ made for me. Carol
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Last week, I presented many questions about relationships and have wrestled with that topic this week. Since I am still processing these questions myself, I decided to just show you my notes and some notes from a friend of mine, Carol, who is an expert in this area. Her notes are in green and mine are in blue. I only posted the first few questions...didn't want to overwhelm anyone. This would be more interesting if those reading this blog would post their comments/thoughts.
What influences your relationships?
Time invested in them; Attitude toward that person/group; Information about that person/group; Their interactions toward me; My desire to cultivate (or not) a relationship. My current mood and/or place in life.
What do you do to protect your relationships and improve them?
Invest time and attention in them; pray for them; give them priority in my daily routine/life; give part of myself to that person/group unconditionally; try to learn more about that person/group…understand them. Constantly uplift and refuse to tear down through words, actions, and thoughts.
What destroys your relationships?
Neglect of my time and attention; selfish desires on my part; trying to control the other person/group; lack of motivation to serve that person/group; intentionally hurting the other person/group; not seeking God’s desires for that relationship. Listening to Satan’s whispers in your ear. Allowing your attention/affections to be diverted elsewhere.
In talking with my friend and pastor, Tim this week, he presented me with a challenge to read Romans 6:16 and ask myself "How do you present yourself?"
Romans 6:16 (New International Version)
16Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
This is very insightful. Take some time this week to read and reread this scripture, pray about it and apply it to your relationships.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
What influences your relationships? What do you do to protect your relationships and improve them? What destroys your relationships?
How does your relationship with the ones you love reflect your relationship with the lover of all…God? How does your relationship with God, influence your relationship with those you love? Do you separate your spiritual relationships and physical relationships?
What is a healthy way to make positive changes in a relationship?
When is it time (if ever) to sever a relationship?
How can you know if you should hang on and never let go of a relationship with a loved one?
No funny stories…yet…to tell. Still wrestling with these questions on many levels in my life. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions and how you are dealing with relationships in your life. Then, together, we will look at what the Bible has to say about relationships.