Good morning everyone! How are y’all doing this fine Wednesday morning? 🙂
Last night’s community group was so fun; it was great to hang out with close friends and just have a great time celebrating life together! Nate and I were up for dinner, and we made spaghetti with meat and veggie sauce, salad, garlic bread, and cookies for dessert!
Joy in Relationships
Unless you’re a regular reader you might not know what Nate and I moved out here for: to help plant a church in the Denver/Boulder area. Granted, we were planning on moving somewhere other than Dallas anyway, but we just felt called to be in Colorado for some reason, and I’m so glad we listened to that and came! The reason I bring this up is because I never really realized how important it was to have JOY in my relationships. In fact, I really only had true joy in my relationship with my parents, my sister, and Nate, and even then I took that for granted!
You might be asking what it means to have joy in your relationships, and while I do not have all the answers, I can tell you what’s worked for me. Having joy in a relationship stems from you accepting your partner (as in the person the relationship is with; this doesn’t necessarily mean a romantic partner) for who they are as an incomplete, fallible human being. It also means accepting YOURSELF in the same way. You know that phrase, “I’m only human”? That phrase is a perfect example of the fact that no matter what, we will always fall short of perfection. The fact that we have the ABILITY to move past imperfection to discover joy, fulfillment, and love others regardless is one of the things that proves to me we were made in God’s image. Although we don’t always take the opportunity to do so, we are all fully capable of loving others regardless of their faults. Reveling in that opportunity will certainly help in bringing joy to your marriage and friendships.
Besides accepting others, even with all their faults and weaknesses (and your own!), another way to bring joy into relationships is to actually deal with conflict. I can hear some moaning and groaning and cries of “I’m non-confrontational!” or “I don’t want to!” Here’s the thing guys: not dealing with conflict will only result in a beat-down of emotional guilt, turmoil, and anger. For example, if Nate and I get into an argument, and he says something that I take personally, my first instinct is to hurt him back and then run away. However, by doing so what I’ve done is created an even deeper rift and actually made it harder for myself to resolve the issue once I’ve calmed down enough to do so. I’m not saying it’s bad to express your emotions; quite the opposite really! But do so in a way that honors yourself and honors the other person. This also applies to the “are we in high school again?” situations. Talking behind people’s backs really only makes you look bad, and I think we all know that it harvests guilt like nothing else. Dealing with conflict rationally is key, and (since we all have emotions) make sure that when you DO bring emotion into it you name the emotion for what it is. If you need to take a step back so you don’t say or do something hurtful, do it. Just make sure that you don’t avoid conflict as it always increases the strength and communicativity in relationships.
Another key is to HAVE FUN! We usually make friends and build relationships on common interests, on things that we find enjoyable. Take the time to do that with the people you are in relationship with. Obviously if we’re talking about someone from work, that might be hard, but the thing is we can always share a smile, tell a joke, laugh at someone else’s jokes, and take the time to enJOY other people’s company. Go on a picnic, eat at a great restaurant, go to a concert, take a walk/jog/bike ride, grab a cup of coffee, take a hike…ANYTHING that you enjoy with another person will usually make you happier and intensify the relationship. We’ve been blessed with a huge earth and tons of stuff to do: take advantage of it!
Finally (and this is in no way the only 4 points on how to take joy in a relationship), it is key that you do these things with people you enjoy spending time with. Now don’t misunderstand me: we are called to love ALL people ALL the time. However, we are not called to be everyone’s best friend all the time. If you’re forcing yourself to hang out with a group of people or an individual because you feel you HAVE to (popularity, business opportunity, they’re the only ones you know, etc) you’re cheating yourself and you’re cheating the other person. While I do feel you can grow to love someone and spending time with them, don’t do it because you have to or you FEEL you have to. Spend time with people you love because you actually already love them! It will help grow those relationships and teach you how to accept them, deal with conflict, and have fun so you can share the love with others.
As I said before, these little tips are in no way the be-all end-all to taking joy in your relationships, but I feel it’s a good place to start. I pray that all of you would take some time today to examine your relationships with others and find ways to love them (and yourself!) better!