Relationships are both reward and challenge. Our ports in a storm; our greatest obstacles. Like it or not, no man is an island, we all need relationships. Even introverts need companionship.
We are made in God’s image which is to be relational. The most important relationship we have is with Him, through His son Jesus, because it is that which impacts every other area of our life.
Relationship with God
The Bible says God knit us in our mother’s womb; He loved us and knew us before we were even born. God cares about us more than anybody else in the world.
He is dependable, trustworthy, honest, present and madly in love with us. Is that not the type of relationship we all want? For more on this refer to the blog post on A Father’s heart. His love for us is the beacon to guide us in our own relationships, especially close relationships.
God’s character should always be our reference point, not the broken standards of the world. With all the anger, bitterness and unforgiveness around us, we need to be intentional in how we relate to people.
Consequences of conflict
A broken or difficult relationship with others hinders our relationship with God. Mat 5:23, 24 says we must settle the anger we feel towards our adversary before we come before God, otherwise we are distracted by our thoughts and not able to pray and worship him wholeheartedly.
The Bible tells us to live in peace with all men and not let bitterness take root in our hearts. This peace is one of the requirements for holiness that allows us to see God. (Hebrews 12: 14, 15)
We will discuss this in more detail at a later date, under the topic of spiritual. For the purpose of this post, we focus on the human aspect and our part in the relationships around us. How we conduct our relationships, says a lot about who we are, and can help us understand ourselves.
After loving God, we are commanded to love each other. Not suggested or mentioned or advised. Commanded. Second on the list in fact. It’s that important. It may not seem like it, but that is the inherent desire of every human being. We are programmed that way. God knows this which is why human relations are so high on His list of priorities.
Family relationships are, without doubt, the most important relationships that we have on earth. We are meant to care for, nurture, support and love one another. Paul has harsh words to say about families who neglect their relatives, so always keep that in mind when you are torn between a dozen other commitments. When faced with a question of loyalty, turn towards the biblical truth.
They may be close relationships, but this is also where the most damage is caused. Our families feel the brunt of our frustrations and it is where our weaknesses are exposed. The better somebody knows you, the more visible the flaws. It is so much easier to keep them covered up in public.
As mentioned, I spoke about A Father’s Heart in a previous post, suffice to say here, that parents are the first relationship we remember. It is one of the strongest bonds and the most meaningful, so if these relationships are dysfunctional, the wounds can be lasting and devastating.
As a counselor, I am always amazed at how many of our struggles can be traced back to childhood hurts, and moreso the fact that people don’t even realize it.
The family unit goes beyond parents and siblings to aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents. They all have an influence on our lives to a lesser or greater extent depending on the level of involvement. No wonder we can end up confused and complicated. Much of our self-worth is formed within this family unit, during the early formative years.
The Effect on Community
Parents aren’t perfect. There are those that outright shouldn’t have kids, but even the most well-meaning parent can get it wrong. Nevertheless, as parents, we have to be mindful that we are highly influential role models for our children. A parent’s immorality can destroy a family. God warns us about this in His word and we see the evidence in the world around us. A nation’s strength and a families’ strength are related. If you want to destroy a community, destroy its families.
Relationships among Friends
As we get older and move away from family, relationships with friends take over.
As always it’s not the quantity but the quality. Friends should be loyal, and a positive influence in our lives. We need friends to be carefree with, someone to help us forget our burdens, people we can trust and rely on to have our back during the rough times.
We may only have a few friends, we may have many. There is no right or wrong. Jesus had 12 people close to him who he traveled with. Perhaps you prefer a few close relationships to many superficial ones and that’s ok.
I thought this proverb was quite interesting: “A man of many companions may come to ruin” Prov 18:24.
Not all friendships are smooth sailing
On the flipside, friends may betray and hurt us too. What is important is that you don’t allow it to define you. Seek reliable counsel to put it into perspective. If you are at fault, of course, apologize and make the effort to mend the relationship. We should always try to fix a relationship, rather than walk away from it unresolved. (Mat 5:32)
Relationships with our Colleagues
Work colleagues can be a challenge. We don’t choose the other people in the office. With so many varied characters all in one place, there is bound to be conflict. Yet even in these situations, we can learn more about ourselves and we can learn coping mechanisms such as tolerance and patience. It may not be perfect but it is part of learning, growing and thriving. We don’t have to be close friends with everybody.
We learn resilience through challenges and it is about minimizing the effect on your life. If we don’t get this right, we end up going home and taking it out on the family. More often than not, it is people that stress us out, not the work.
If you struggle to make and keep friends, and you move from job to job regularly because there is always a person you don’t get along with, then there might be… (ahem) Well, you might want to chat with somebody about that.
Relationships with Acquaintances
Acquaintances come in many forms from the teller at the store to our children’s teachers. We deal with people from all walks of life. While you might not consider these as relationships, they still say a lot about us in the way we treat people. Be mindful of how you interact with strangers too.
Knowing ourselves, helps us understand the dynamics of the relations between us. We are unique individuals with different needs. Understanding that, helps us read and understand situations better.
5 Easy ways to build relationships
5 Things that destroy relationships
-The fallout from other damaged relationships
-Disappointment. (The difference between expectation and reality)
Our relationships tell us much about ourselves whether we want to believe it or not. If a person struggles to get along and is constantly fighting with everybody, chances are they are carrying a hurt. Hurt people hurt.
Who we surround ourselves with says a lot about our own character. Surround yourself with the right people.
If you are at loggerheads with everybody and struggling to make friends, consider sitting with a counselor or therapist who can take you through some of those situations. It may not have necessarily been a bad situation, but it is how we responded to it that matters. Our perceptions are our realities.
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