I would have to say that relationships are hard. They are hard to maintain, grow, keep alive, survive, and almost impossible to make extraordinary. That has been my experience…is yours different? My life has had patterns that have made relationships difficult. I have issues inside of me that makes lasting extraordinary relationships hard, but I also have to say that I’m not the only problem in the equation. As the old saying goes it takes two to tangle or is that tango? It takes two to make love and two to make conflicts.
One of the keys things, I want this blog to be, is a place where I share my journey. Not a place where I preach or teach. I am really tired of being preached at and even more tired of reading everyone else opinions. I want to share my heart and if in that process Jesus opens your eyes to something in your own life…wonderful. That is what this is about. If you have a insight you want to share please do…in love.
So I have been learning a few of my own issues, that keep me from having extraordinary relationships.
- I have my own agenda in life and I can’t always see beyond my own nose. So conflict happens and I tend to defend my position rather than listen.
- Things don’t go the way I want them to go and I tend to interpret the other person motives as being uncaring or unloving.
- Boundaries? What are those?
- Insecurities of my own worth and value.
I am sure that there are more but for right now I leave the list as so. I have been learning so many amazing things in this journey towards extraordinary relationships, and because that is what I truly want, I am pursuing learning how to have them. So here we go my learning moments in Jesus.
Jesus said two mind boggling things. (He said many more than two but for right now I am going to deal with two of them) He said, “Love as I have loved you.” John 13:34 and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”. Mark 12:33 There are some variations on those like: Do for others as you would want done for you. The golden rule. The 58 one anothers in the bible are all about how to demonstrate love to one another.
These two mind boggling saying sound so simple…but are they really easy to do? Haven’t been in my life. How about you? In my institutional (my mean the institutional church not the mental institution) days these would have taken on a sense of impossibility and condemnation. It would have felt like if I am not laying down my life for another then I just wasn’t getting it right and I needed to try harder. I certainly could act like that externally for a while but something in my heart wasn’t right. Jesus is all about our hearts.
John 15 is all about extraordinary relationships.
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
It wasn’t until recently that Jesus opened my eyes to something absolutely amazing in this passage, please read verses 4 & 5 again. We can’t produce fruit by our own efforts. I can’t produce love without Jesus. Wow. My self efforts get me no where. I can’t do it. This whole extraordinary relationships thing is impossible for me to do by myself. What a relief. I can take a big breath and let it go. The stress of the effort to do it on my own is gone. I am not alone in achieving this desire and not only that but Jesus wants me to have extraordinary relationships, so I am right in the center of His heart. Yeah!!!!
My role is to abide in Him and since I am in Him and He is in me…we’ve got something going. (Colossians 1: 25-27) Shame and condemnation no longer have a hold on me. That is a truth. Now to walk it out. Here is what I have learned about the two simple, mind boggling, verses I shared earlier.
- I can’t do either one of them by myself. Love is a fruit that is produced by Christ in me.
- I can’t love others if I don’t love myself. This is the act of accepting who you are and loving yourself as Jesus loves you.
- I can’t love myself or others if I don’t know or have experienced the love of Jesus. What I mean here is not just His incredible act of love on the cross but all of it. From the being He has loved me, choose me, accepted me, died for me, rose again for me, lives in me, forgave me, forgave me, loved me, accepted me, choose me, live in me. He will never leave me or abandon me. He won’t reject me if I don’t get it right. He believes in me. He believes in the idea that His work in me is going to produce fruit.
So if I want to have extraordinary relationships I might want to practice the following in my life:
- Accept people for who they are right now and not try to change who they are. I don’t have that power, only the Christ who is in us both can do that. (if they are a believer and I can’t know how Christ is working to bring about their faith) So accepting those who aren’t in Christ is really important. Loving them for who they are: a human being created in the image of God.
- Differentiate myself from others. Differentiation is the understanding that you are you. Your different from others. You can stand in your own circle and be who you are. You don’t need to lean on another to live life. A really good book to read on this is “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Another good book is: “Extraordinary Relationships, a new way of thinking” by Roberta M. Gilbert. This is the action of maturing.
- Listen, when we listen as a differentiated person, we can hear. This means the other person is express their experience of something. If they are hurt or angry…it is their hurt and anger, not mine. This takes a lot of work and practice. Since I am married I am getting lots of practice on this one.
With each of these, can you see, that Jesus has done this for us? I have experienced His love in these ways. He accepts me just as I am. He is in me and I am in Him but that relationship is one of boundaries…He never crosses mine and He wont allow me to cross His. Jesus always listens without getting defensive.
Here again I am not doing this on my own…Jesus is at work in me to perfect His love in me so I can love others as He has loved me.