“No!” became a frequently used word by all of my kids around 18 months old and again at around 13 years. This reaction to authority was really a very natural realization that all humans eventually encounter…that we are individuals.
We want to be “strong enough” to do things on our own.
Oh, His ways are not our ways, are they? 🙂
I find God’s plan (the tiny bit I understand of it!) funny and ironic. When we realize we are separate and can make our own choices, we yearn for that, and start exerting this separateness as kids. When we get married, we are told that we are “ONE flesh,” and that we need to create unity in our marriage – oh, and while we’re at it, that marriage represents Christ’s relationship with the church, so it matters.
If we call ourselves, “Christians,” but do a lousy job representing Him to the world through our marriages, why would others think there’s any Truth to the faith? We get in His way all too often, frequently by not submitting to His will, or by stifling the Spirit in our lives via sin…
And while some separateness works in human relationships from a “mentally healthy” standpoint (in marriage, think Venn Diagram – although in the image, the overlap could be bigger… 🙂) and He created us this way, the absolute LAST place we want to be separate individuals is in our relationship with God. One of the ways we mess that up is by sin.
Relationship-wise, when we are consistently argumentative, contentious, challenging, and lousy listeners, beginning interactions with how we disagree versus finding common ground, we create distance between ourselves and people around us, and, surprisingly enough, with our Lord.
Of course we should not lie to others, but it is good relationship skills to think about whatever is good, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy, and excellent first (Phil 4:8). And wouldn’t we then give voice to that? And isn’t that ability a fruit of the Spirit? (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). And isn’t developing those things a bit of both letting go of control and work on our parts?
I can tell you that the greatest privilege in my marriage is deeply connecting with my husband about his innermost thoughts. Intimacy with another human at this level is truly remarkable. And for the record, we’ve had difficulties. Those of you who have been here a while might remember that I once rated our marriage a “2” on a scale of 1-10. Those were not pretty days.
The same can be said for my relationships with my kids, my friends, and others.
The more intimate my relationship with God, the more intimate my relationships are with others. I ache for that for you, too!
But we don’t get there by beginning conversation with “how you are wrong…” or “no!” 🙂 We get there via good listening, which only comes when our heart is in the right place. His place. 🙂
And thus, when I read this today, all these things became clear to me:
3 It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.4 A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.5 The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.
Dear God, may we all be people of great understanding. May our hearts align such with Your perfect will, that we swim the deep waters of relationship deeply connected to others. Fill us with Your Word, Your Spirit, Your Truth, such that we no longer see ourselves, but rather see Jesus. Forgive us for the too many times we fail to see people the way You do. Help us love others the way You do. Help us avoid starting arguments and rid us of our tendency to debate and quarrel with others. Help us work hard and not be lazy in our relationships. Help us do the hard things, Lord. We can’t do this on our own, but need Your help. Your Word (Phil 4:8-13) tells us that we can do all things through Christ Who gives us strength, but that is in the context of “contentment…” help us be content with what You’ve given us… seeing life as You do…In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.
May it be so in my life.
Dare you to pray for someone else’s marriage today and watch the video below. 🙂
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Triple-dog-dare you to join us in Indianapolis on the 4th and 5th of November at the Greencastle Church Women’s Retreat! Sounds like a tremendously fun weekend of tank filling – more information here: Respect Dare Retreat. This is one of the few “open” events we do during the year. Thanks to Greencastle Church for making it open!