Imagine the world without significant relationships. What kind of dismal, meaningless life would we be living? Can you envision how valueless your focus or schedule would be without significant connections? How much joy would you be able to experience without God’s breathtaking gift of relationship?
I was watching my younger girls playing the other day. Their delightful laughter as they simply enjoyed being together was music to my ears. They truly are the very best of friends and do not ever enjoy being separated. Even when we are traveling in our RV, they both squish into the same bunk to sleep together. But they still have their squabbles. When they have their little spats, my goal is helping them see from the other’s perspective. It is only after they care and understand, that they can sincerely apologize and be restored to being best of friends.
Some would say that our relationship with Jesus is enough. They say things like, “God is all we need.” However, I disagree with this. Yes, we need Jesus–but we also need human relationships. In Genesis 2, God says, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
God created each of us with an intense hunger for rich bonding with other people. This is a God given desire. Yet, many of us struggle more in our relationships than in any other area.
I’m aware that you may have been deeply hurt by others. I get that. You may have built a impenetrable barrier around your pulsing heart, guarding you from throbbing pain. But, my friend, significant relationships are still vital for you. Yes…you. You cannot be healthy, happy and whole without relationships.
Your marriage may be falling apart, your relationship with your children strained, or you may be reeling with the heartbreaking loss of a loved one. My heart breaks for you, and I pray you will not feel alone. I pray for Jesus to meet your need for relationship in some way. Our Relationship-giver weeps when our relationships are broken or lost.
Each of us longs to know and be known intimately. To truly love and be loved…in spite of our imperfections. Love like this takes time.
Early in our marriage, I expected our love and commitment to be enough. But one of the things I’m learning 28 years after our wedding, is that even a true, selfless, agape love is not enough to keep our marriage intact. It is not enough to prevent misunderstandings with our children. Love has never been enough to keep me from hurting those I love the most.
Most strained relationships are not caused by lack of love, but lack of understanding.
Did you get that?
My husband may love me, without really understanding me. And I may not be able to make sense of why my husband does or does not do something while still loving him. But if we don’t understand each other, we will not feel that connection or love from the other person. I’ve seen many struggle in their committed relationships because of never going deep enough in understanding each other. Relationships need to be based on understanding each other’s hearts and motives.
So what does it mean to understand each other? In every healthy relationship there are disagreements and struggles. Apologies may even be made, and forgiveness granted. Yet, there can still be a block in full restoration. Why? Because although love may be present, understanding of the other person’s heart isn’t. Unless we take whatever time is needed for us to get to the “aha” moment of truly understanding where the other person is coming from, we are limiting our relationship.
Have you ever heard the statement, “She/he loves me but I don’t think she/he really likes me”? This statement exposes a lack of understanding and connection.
My husband and I have found that when we take the time to genuinely understand each other, our love for each other deepens. I may be hurt by something he does, but when I look beyond the surface issue, I can see the beauty of his heart. When he explains his thoughts and feelings, the “lights come on” for me. The more I understand my husband, the more I can love him.
It doesn’t matter who you are struggling to relate with, you can choose to understand them. Take the time to look beyond their negative words or behavior and care for their hurting heart. Once you understand them, it will be easier to love them.
In fact, you will never love anyone as deeply as when you fully understand them and their actions. You will never feel as loved as when someone truly understands you.
Those within gangs and LGBT communities will tell you they are there mostly because there they feel accepted, loved, and understood.
I find it heartbreaking to realize we, Christians, struggle so much in our relationships. It is time for us to focus on understanding hearts rather than judging actions. Hurting individuals shouldn’t have to go to the LGBT community or the local bar in order to feel understood, loved and connected.
Love is never enough. We all long for more. Each of us have more than love we can offer, and as we extend that love with understanding, we will experience the true human connection that God designed.
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)