Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Relationship 101 - Lesson 1

Relationship is important to me, and as I talk to long-time church goers and non-church folks alike, I find that most of us are, or have suffered in this area. Each one of us has different types; actually depths to our relationships. The world seems to have a box for each type of relationship with their different elements. However; I am looking at the core of interacting with someone else.

When we look at that core dynamics of a relationship (Biblically), the only things that make a significant difference are the authority of a parent over a child, the authority of a superior and the physical part of the relationship between a husband and wife. Everything else requires similar attitudes and actions for the relationship to progress. IE: Being kind is being kind. It doesn't matter if someone is a stranger or a relative; husband or child.. kind is kind.

Normally our relationships should progress towards complete transparency and trust. It is a lofty goal; well worth trying, but still unobtainable. Here are some examples of the type of relationships we may function in: The cashier (stranger), an acquaintance; someone that we may see often but are not emotionally intimate with, a friend, a close friend and a lover. Each one enters the continuum from non-relation to 100% emotional trust and transparency. We have little capacity to have more then just a few on the most intimate and relationships - the inner circle. Jesus had 12, and I suspect most of us would have trouble with more just 3 or 4. Many readers would be happy with 1 really good one.

There are lots of elements that play into a relationship. They can be exceedingly complex. Here are some of the basic conceptual elements in real relationships. It is not a perfectly Biblical list, nor a completely psychological list. It is just some of the more important things to think about. They are not feelings because feelings are not reliable. Nor are they fact. However; good relationships bring a wealth of good feelings.
-1 Genuine Caring for Another - A growing love.
-2 Commitment - Even when you don't feel like it.
-3 Compassion - Accepting the fact that someone else feels differently then you do.
-4 Empathy - Overlooking shortcomings and glaring character defects in others.
-5 Communication - Finding the best way to express your thoughts, ideas and feelings in a way which the other person understands. Learning to listen in such a way that you understand the other person.
-6 Humility - Accepting the fact that you'll never get it perfect, but trying anyway.
-7 Selfless-ness - Focusing on someone else besides yourself.

I am sure there are more, but you get the idea.

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