My lawn needs mowing again. It will get mowed today or tomorrow or in a day or two, but it will get mowed and then my lawn will be fine – for about a week or so. Then it needs to be mowed again. My lawn is not different from your lawn or from most anyone else. We put a plan in place to take care of it either ourselves, or perhaps we hire to have it done. Nevertheless, we manage it and for the most part are successful at doing it.
Relationships in our lives need time, attention, and ‘cultivation’ also. However, relationships are not as predictable as say, taking care of our lawn. There is no ‘one-to-one’ correspondence between the time we spend meeting the needs of a spouse or child as there is with fertilizing our front yard. When I put down a weed-killing spray in the spring (provided that I do it correctly), I can pretty much anticipate the effects that it will have on my turf barring any unforeseen weather-related issues. When I spend time discussing life-issues or engage in spiritual discussions with my children. I do not have any written guarantees what “soil of the heart” condition the seeds of my efforts are falling on. I cannot follow some simple list of directions to produce a joy-filled, Christ loving, healthy adult in the same manner that I can follow the directions on the back of a bag of Scotts Weed and Feed fertilizer.
Wow, does that thought leave me in a fatalistic despair? Am I completely helpless when it comes to the desired effects that I want to leave on the people I live with, play with, love and cry with? I don’t believe it has to. I do believe that human relationships take more than just a formula, a set amount of time, or some list of directions. Relationships take “blood, sweat, and tears” and a whole lot more. Disclaimer: I am no expert when it comes to relationships. I struggle to the same degree as most everyone else does. I am born with a depravity that causes me to seek my own welfare first, to make myself happy above all else or anyone else, and a sense of entitlement that makes it difficult to set aside my needs and desires and elevate the needs and desires of others. It is a basic fact, ‘there is none righteous, no not one…’
Okay, so now that I have that mega hurdle to jump over before I can build stronger relationships with others, what can I do? I have no formula for that either, but I believe that dealing with my own sin nature first is a primary step if I am going to succeed with relationships. All relationships are secondary to the most important relationship that I need. I start life with a broken relationship with my Creator and until that relationship is restored, I will be ineffective cultivating other relationships. The Bible is very clear that fellowship (friendship) with Jesus Christ is the quintessential step. Nothing in our lives is more crucial than restoration with the Father through Christ. I cannot be the father, husband, son, friend, or partner that I was designed to be until I first am redeemed by my Designer. John 1:12, Romans 6:23, 2 Corinthians 5:17 are verses among others that map out for us the way back to Him.
Once my relationship with my heavenly Father is restored, I am now able to begin to “grind it out” with my human relationships. It is an enigma to me that something that feels so natural as friendships do, can also be so difficult to care for and maintain. I feel a burden both for myself as well as others that we live in a culture that emphasizes things over people. We strive and fight it out day by day in our jobs, our lives, and our play to achieve, acquire, and accomplish. Often there is little left over to give to those around us who need our attention and love to sustain them and keep them going. God did not create us for things, He created us for Himself and for each other. It is revealing to know that a day is coming for each of us when we will be separated from all possessions, wealth, and achievement and left only with relationships – with God and with others.
“Lord I want to take this one day I have today and put deliberate focus on each person You have placed in my life and make it a little bit better of a day for them. I desire to do this by Your grace for Your glory and for my joy!”