Messy Relationships 2012

Posted: December 7, 2011 in Spiritual Growth
Tags: , , , , ,

As 2012 approaches, the kinds of resolutions I am thinking about are not resolutions that affect only me. You know the usual work out, eat fewer Mars bars (I hate Mars bars btw), and the like. Not that there is anything wrong with these goals. But sometimes I think we have the tendency to be so myopic in thinking of ourselves that we underestimate how much change we can effect by our relationships with others. In this coming year, I am really interested in learning how to find and sustain better, more productive relationships with others. There is a high correlation between your success and the people with whom you surround yourself. But even so, this is not the reason I want to pursue and sustain relationships. If I let myself be driven by this reason alone, I lose some aspect of what I am trying to gain. I want to grow as a person and I know every relationship I create has the capability of opening up relationships for others. Each of us is far more relationally powerful than we care to imagine.

We all have, or at least I hope we all have, relationships that are comfortable and fairly easy to maintain. We gravitate toward like minded people and that is great. We need people like this in our lives. But, I wonder what would happen if we started reaching out of our comfort zone and started risking a little more. What if, instead of avoiding people we were unsure of, people who make us uncomfortable– what if we pushed ourselves toward these people to learn? What if we were less worried about being rejected and more interested in truth? What if we were willing to risk speaking our perspective at times when it would be easier to remain silent? What if we were willing to listen? Not just listen on the surface, but to see if there are any nuggets in another person that could be of benefit to us. What if we didn’t always have to agree with each other in order to be in relationship with each other? What if we didn’t always have to be working on the same task to compare notes about what we are doing? What if we reached out of our normal spheres of influence to create something new? I know, enough with the rhetorical questions already! But these are questions I’ve been asking myself.

Perhaps one key to improving our relationships is a certain sense of relational freedom. If you watch TV you will notice that some of the characters banter back and forth insulting one another and so on. But then they remain the best of friends, or become even closer because of it. Less often does this happen in the real world, and I’m not suggesting that acting like TV characters would improve our lives. But I think we like watching this because there is something freeing about watching relationships in which we can be real, share frustrations, disagree, poke fun at each other, and so on. Good arguments can produce intimacy because in an argument, you each reveal some of who you are. Arguments don’t need to have rejection attached to them. We can so easily mistake disagreement for personal rejection.

Life is not a multiple choice test with only one right answer. Sometimes A, C, and F are all possible right answers. The hard part becomes finding where we, as individuals, fit into all of these answers. We don’t want to make the wrong choice, because there are definitely wrong choices to be made. I’m not saying we should check our brains at the door. However, within the myriad of right choices, we must find our path. So if I choose path A, I don’t want to be one to quickly condemn choice C and F just because it doesn’t suit me.

You may have heard the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote, “The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing views in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Sounds a little messy. Sounds a little chaotic. Sounds a little frustrating. So is great art, so is great science, so is a great family or a great meal. It’s not simple, but is it worthwhile? I think so.

  1. Katie says:

    Great post, Leigh. I agree that relationships are messy. It takes work to maintain them day in and day out. Sometimes you’re right and the other person is wrong- do you keep your silence because they won’t apologize or do you reach out to keep the relationship going? How do we assert healthy boundaries without isolating ourselves? These are messy aspects of relationships I’ve been contemplating and trying to get a handle on.

    You have a way with words and you always get me thinking. 🙂

    • beleighve says:

      There is no pat answer to the questions you are asking. But generally speaking, I think we need to make sure we are walking in forgiveness as soon as we are wronged whether or not we receive an apology. However, it doesn’t mean we need to force ourselves into consistent interaction with people from whom we sense stubbornness. If someone shows that they are closed to you and your perspective, there is no sense moving on, throwing your “pearls” to “swine.” Taking a relational step back is a healthy boundary. We know we are walking in forgiveness if we can desire the best for that person and are open to the relationship taking whatever course it will. Thanks for your comments! I pray God gives you wisdom in all matters of your relationships.

  2. Cathy says:

    Good post Katie. Boundaries is an important part of relationships. I have been thinking about those things also, but at the same time, I want to be ‘REAL’ in a relationship and not be silent about who I am. If someone doesn’t agree with me, but chooses to still like me, I’m okay with that. If someone only wants me in relationship if I agree with them all the time, I don’t want to get into that trap.
    Sometimes I don’t speak my mind when I know it will not be received properly, which I believe is biblical. But then I try to find ways to release my ideas and my identity in other ways.
    I’m thinking more and more that we must better understand our true identity, so we can release that which God has given us to others. That is the deepest, healthiest
    communion we can have with another person.

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