Relationships are messy, aren’t they?
Whether in marriage, family, friendship, church, work, etc…some of our greatest joys and deepest sorrows in this life come from people we are in relationship with.
Like many of you, I imagine, I spent many years trying to protect myself from those sorrows. Couple that with the fact that I had convinced myself that if I cared too much for someone, God would take them out of my life to keep me from loving them more than Him, and…well…
Yeah, relationships are messy.
We each bring our own baggage into every relationship. And often, we expect the other person to be able to navigate our insecurities and emotions in a way that we, ourselves, are usually unable to.
This has been an area of my life that God has brought tremendous healing and victory into as He’s teaching me to take my thoughts captive!
I’m learning that while it’s true, God is jealous for us and will not share His glory with another, that truth is a liberating one! It means not only will we never find our satisfaction in another person, but that they don’t have the burden of being our sole satisfaction!
I don’t want that burden for myself, why would I place it on someone I care about??
When I was dating my husband and for the first several years of our marriage, I did this. I was consumed with irrational fear that he would let me down in various ways. I worried constantly that my anxieties and depression would drive him away. As a result, I attempted to puppeteer our relationship…convinced if I could just pull the right strings at the right time, we would be ok. I poured gasoline on the very flames I worried would push him away.
The best thing God ever did for us was allow him to disappoint me. Nothing major, certainly nothing of my greatest fears, just a reminder that he was human. In the same season of our life together, God was clearly challenging me with the question “am I enough for you?”
I hated that question. I wanted so desperately to be able to say ‘yes’ and mean it. But I was equally terrified that if I did, that ‘yes’ would be tested.
Slowly, painfully, and graciously God began to strip away my dependencies on people to meet my emotional and spiritual needs. My husband had not been the only person I placed this burden on, he just bore the brunt of it.
There were friends, mentors, people I admired from a distance along the way… people I thought would be able to help me heal. People I believed would make me feel better about myself. People I hoped might help me fix my broken mind.
I’m so grateful for the community God has gifted me with. My family, friends, church body…all of these are gifts straight from the Lord.
But I’m just as grateful to have come to the realization that none of them can meet my deepest needs. None of them can heal my hurt or fix my brokenness.
They were never designed to.
Just as I was never designed to do those things for another.
How much turmoil could you save yourself if you approached every relationship with this in mind?
It’s not an expectation that the other person is going to hurt or disappoint you…it’s a peace and comfort in the fact that you’ll be okay when they do!
What would it mean for your marriage to let your spouse off the hook, and to stop expecting them to meet every need you have?
What would it look like for your friendships if you approached every hurtful word with grace, and reminded yourself that they are not responsible for your well-being?
How might your heart be less encumbered by your perceptions of what another person thinks of you (or if they think of you) if you knew the Creator of the universe thinks of you…and His purposes for you are good?
God gave us the gift of relationship. He, Himself, exists in relationship…and always has. I’m grateful for this gift. But there are two things I can now say with certainty.
1. The greatest relationship we will ever know is the one God has offered us through Christ. No other friendship or love will ever compare.
“To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?” Isaiah 40:18
2. Our relationships here on earth are most meaningful when we are more concerned about building the other person up than whether or not they are meeting our felt needs.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11