My kids and I take a summer sabbatical every June to Florida, where I grew up. My husband usually goes on a mission trip and travels to a conference in June, so he kindly allows us to go to my hometown in Florida. Our last week in Florida, he flies down to join us. He loves to enjoy the beautiful west coast Florida beaches I grew up on. We also work in a mini Disney vacation with our little family and spend a couple days away, just him and me, on the beach.
I cannot tell you how much I love the month of June each summer. I have time to reconnect with family, friends and my husband. There is a huge difference in spending time talking face to face with those you love, compared to talking on the phone, texting or keeping up with them on Facebook.
It is time spent with one another that makes relationship flourish and grow.
Reflecting on my time in Florida with friends and family, I realize there are five relationship myths that I must overcome.
Myth #1: Relationships are easy.
Truth #1: Relationships are hard work. I wish I did relationships perfectly, but the truth is I don’t. I lose touch, forget to call and get busy with life. My relationships get lost in my preoccupation with my own crazy life. Every relationship requires time and work. I want to make relationships my priority. My relationship with my Savior is of utmost importance. I am so thankful for His grace and faithfulness in the midst of my unfaithfulness. I want to be proved faithful to Him and I must work at it. I want to know Him and the only way to truly know Him is through His Word.
Time each day in His Word, being quiet before Him, LISTENING and bowing to Him in prayer ushers intimacy with my Savior. There is nothing harder and better in this life than when the Word of God pierces your heart and speaks to you in a way where your only response is: “Yes, Lord.” It takes hard work and discipline but produces true, life change. I need Him every day.
In the same way I must work at all my relationships, but some relationships take priority. Second to my relationship with the Lord, my relationship with my husband must be next, followed by my relationship with my kids. These must be cultivated and marked by love, grace and forgiveness.
As a family, talk to each other. Share dreams and fears. Encourage each other to pursue the Lord. Be intentional. Ask questions to get them talking. At dinner each night, we all share our highs and lows of the day. This gives us a glimpse into the time spent away from one another and allows us to encourage each other and often times just laugh at the craziness of life and the hilarious things our kids share with us.
The same principle applies to extended family in friends. Make time for them. Love them. Show them grace. Relationships are excellent, but not effortless.
Myth #2: Relationships come naturally.
Truth #2: Relationships take initiative. For some reason, we think relationships just happen. If you think back to all your close relationships (outside of family), they all started with initiative. One person took a chance. A conversation was started. An invitation was made. Every friendship started somewhere.
This is my favorite thing about relationships.
If you are believer in Jesus Christ, He took the initiative to call you (John 15: 16). All you had to do was respond with belief.
I often times find myself sitting back and waiting for people to take the initiative of inviting me or reaching out to me. I need to be the one taking initiative. Over and over the Lord reminds me: “A man who has friends, must himself be friendly.” (Prov. 18: 24 NKJV)
Myth #3: You can have close relationships with everyone.
Truth #3: You can be friends with many, but close with few. This myth haunts me. I see close relationships form and feel left out. I’ve been awkwardly confronted with the question, “Why aren’t we close friends”?
Besides my husband, all my close friends live hundreds of miles away and my heart aches with loneliness at times.
Either way, we must come to the realization that we cannot be close with everyone. I am currently studying the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 and I read this in the Holman New Testament Commentary: Matthew. Stuart Weber writes:
Jesus was wise in knowing that one man (even the God-Man) was limited in the number of lives he could directly influence. Modern sociological experts say that a person is limited to twelve truly significant relationships at a time, and only a maximum of three of these at most can go to the deepest levels of intimacy. (Note Jesus’ even closer circle of three: Peter, James, and John.)
Wisely choose and cherish those with whom you share the deepest levels of intimacy. Give yourself grace to realize that you are limited in the amount of relationships you can closely cultivate.
Myth #4: Relationships should never change.
Truth #4: Relationships are constantly changing. I wish this wasn’t true, but relationships are consistently moving closer together or farther apart.
I have lived in three different states in the past five years. People come and go out of our lives. I could cry just thinking about all the precious people the Lord has brought into our lives for a season. I miss them.
So many factors play into the reason this happens. Geographic location, life change, a change in family dynamic, different seasons of life, family tragedy or just plain busyness can cause your relationship to move toward each other or away from each other.
This is also true of my relationship with my husband, but the good thing is… I can always the change the direction.
Remember truth #1? Work hard at the relationships that are of utmost important in your life.
Be grateful for the people the Lord has brought in and out of your life. I am sure he used those amazing people for a significant purpose in your life during that season. Embrace change and cultivate the most important.
Myth #5: Facebook, Twitter and other social media “friends” are not relationships.
Truth #5: To have true relationships, you must have a face-to-face connection. I can so easily buy into this myth. I once made the great mistake of putting something out on social media that did not belong there. I needed a friend, a response.
I immediately received a call from one of my best friends, who kindly corrected me. She asked me to please pick up the phone and call her for advice and encouragement rather than posting some random thought on line looking for a fake relationship response.
Friends, let’s get off line and into each other’s lives. Social media is fun, but it does not represent a relationship.
Relationships take hard work, initiative and change. Cultivate relationships with the people the Lord has brought into your life.
May all our relationships be driven by obedience to the Lord’s command in John 15:17: Love each other.
I am so thankful the Lord created us for relationships. It is not always been easy, but I have received so many blessings from them.
A Repost from My Journey of Faith Magazine