Developing healthy relationshipsBottom Highlights, Online Only, Where's the Faith? Thursday, June 30th, 2016
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
Relationships can be so complicated, can’t they? Ephesians 4 talks about attributes we need in order to maintain unity in relationships – “be patient, be gentle, be humble, be loving.” And I like what it says in verse 3, “Making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” As I was pondering this verse, the words “make every effort” popped out of the page. Relationships take effort, don’t they? That leads us to our first point in developing and refreshing healthy relationships.
Feed the relationship. You have to spend time developing your relationships. They don’t just grow and blossom because you want them to. You have to spend time investing in their development. How? This is where you can be creative – have fun doing it too.
Go out on dates – even if you’ve been married 63 years! Find things to do that are special for that other person – picnics, sunsets over the ocean, day trips, making their favorite meal, going out to a movie or show, be unique. The important thing is that you spend quality time together. Find ways to experience special occasions together. Feed the relationship.
Expect imperfections. None of us are perfect, so we can’t expect others to be perfect, right? If we balance our expectations and allow for mistakes, we can find ways to embody grace. Remember the golden rule – treat others as you’d want them to treat you. Live it.
When we realize none of us are perfect, we won’t be shocked when others around us mess up, because we’ve already acknowledged they aren’t perfect. Now, their idea of messing up and our idea of messing up might be two totally different things; that’s why it’s so important to communicate! Expecting imperfections allows us to forgive and be authentic with those around us.
Respect. Respect. Respect. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T. All I’m askin’ is for a little respect when you come home. (Just a little bit).” You go, Aretha!
You are worthy of respect. Believe it. Then practice it. You are special, and you deserve to be respected and have others respect you also. No one needs to be manipulated or coerced into doing anything against their will; that’s not intimacy in relationships. Trust is grounded in respect, truth and integrity.
Own your perspective. God has given you a mind. Use it. You have your unique perspective, and each relationship you have requires it. You don’t have to be a doormat in your relationships. Speak respectfully. Assert yourself and allow yourself to have a voice. Allow for honest engagement and conversation. A healthy relationship has dialogue, not just monologue.
Work out disagreements and differences honestly and tactfully – strive for consensus and work together – knowing that you have a voice and your opinion does matter. Own your perspective.
And lastly, share sacred space. What do I mean by that?
Bring God into your relationships. Find ways to incorporate God into your lives. I remember my mom and stepdad had devotions every morning together. Same thing with my dad and stepmom. And when my brothers and I go to Atlanta to see them, the family devotions don’t stop; it’s part of our daily activity. It’s incorporated into the fabric of their life. Interestingly, I don’t remember my mom and dad having devotions before they got a divorce. Sharing sacred space is so important.
I was recently talking to a couple who came to church, and they were talking about how when they go on trips, they take turns reading inspirational books out loud to each other when it’s not their turn to drive. Then I asked them if incorporating an element of spirituality into their relationship strengthened it. They both agreed without hesitation. Then I had to take it a step further; does it help out in every area of your relationship? They smiled and nodded their heads with that smile never leaving their lips.
Allow your relationship to be an act of worship. I look at some couples here who are inspiring just by being in a happy, healthy relationship. I see God in their love and respect for each other. I see God as they freely express their feelings and opinions without belittling the other. I see God as they laugh and hold hands. I see God in the way they just look at each other.
As we develop or refresh healthy relationships let’s remember to nourish the relationship, accept that none of us are perfect, don’t forget R-E-S-P-E-C-T, own your perspective, and share sacred space.
May God guide us in refreshing healthy habits for life through prayer, a healthy, active lifestyle, a healthy habit of giving, a healthy attitude of service and also in our healthy relationships.
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=71756