Building healthy relationships is one of the short suits of my life. I have become stronger over the years, but I am still learning from my mistakes. Here are my top 4 hindrances to authentic relationships. I assure you my personal list could be longer!!!
“How are you?” Pushing ourselves to trust and answer honestly may be scary, but truth is the only soil in which healthy relationships can truly grow. To strengthen friendship and community requires risk, a risk others may be unsure to take but worth giving a try ourselves.
“The LORD detests lying lips,
but he delights in people who are trustworthy ...”
Being real with one another is worth peaking beyond our shells of self-protection. An authentic response may be the first step down the road of a life-long friendship. If things are going well, this is an opportunity to rejoice together; if you are ‘turtling’ your way through a tough season, genuine support and care may be directly in front on you.
Emotionally charged environments give tangible opportunity for honesty. Emotionally transparency is key within genuinely strong communities. We need to be able to listen attentively to the hearts of those around us without trying to filter everything around our own comfort zones, laying aside critical judgments and condescending attitudes.
Studies show that women, more than men, are “wired to quickly and accurately decode or detect distress.” This alone can cause problems with relating authentically in cross-gender circles. Just as the perception of one may create precipices of risk, the lack of accurate perception may allow for bulldozing attitudes in the other! Neither is intentional! Both must be overcome! Dictating when and how every conversation will flow results in emotional distancing. Tempering without hiding keeps us from damaging and distancing those around us.
We watch Jesus fully engaged emotionally: angry, sad, joyful, or moved with compassion. His complete honesty was an open door to enjoyed just “hanging out” with Him. He was real, but he was tempered.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech
but with actions and in truth ...”
(I John 3:18)
“If you would just [fill in the blank] then I would…”
Without question, it’s give-and-take in developing rock solid community. How do we treat others when they are not “carrying their load”?
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control…”
There are several elements within the fruit of the spirit, that only exist in the context of going the extra mile in developing community; elements that require us to be initiators in developing a loving relationship, rather that reactors when the going gets tough.
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak
and not to please ourselves.
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good,
to build them up.”
“I’ll do it Myself!”
“Miss Bossy” may look cute in a picture but not in real life! Years of being a cattle producer gave daily examples of why these “four-leggeds” are often called bossy…
the first to the trough; the last to leave
maintain position at all cost
take the lead or lose it
challenge me and see what happens
The “I’ll do it myself” thoughts are blatant reminders of those days! Haughty superiority and need for control decapitates future opportunities to develop the team relationships needed in healthy community.
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,
but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,
in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
Relationships Within Community
Community comes in many forms: a family, a leadership team, a small group or your workplace, just to name a few!
I am reminded of a walk with my children years ago. We came across an ant super-highway. It amazed us the strategy, precision and efficiency of this community of workers. Each stuck to the right side of the pathway as traffic was streaming different directions. Many struggled in the process of carrying loads disproportionately larger than they; other workers came and assisted in their struggle. For some time, we crouched low, watching in amazement. Whether the worker was large or small, each shared the same mission.
“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!”
Only yesterday, a comment from one of my sons, reminded me how far I have to go in developing godly, authentic and loving community. Unfortunately, I am very much still a “work-in-progress” in this area!
( Meg Gemelli was inspiration behind this blog. Thank you!)