Tag Archives: relationships

The Power of Words

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“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1

Words can hurt, humiliate and anger;  or they can encourage, soothe and inspire.  Our words should be used carefully because they can make or break a relationship.  Once spoken, they can’t be called back or changed.

I thought I would tell you a true story about how someone I know used his words wisely.  His name is Gary.  He and his family moved from Kansas to Maryland and began attending our church.  Our daughters became friends with his daughters, and soon our families were spending a good deal of time together.

After they had been in Maryland for a while, Gary and his family moved to a house that was divided into two apartments.  The first day they lived there, Gary saw his new neighbor drive up, so he went out to introduce himself.  Well, imagine his surprise when the first words out of this fellow’s mouth were curses, and his basic message was “leave me alone, I have no interest in you!”  How would you respond to that?  I’m pretty sure I would just cringe and creep away, hoping to avoid this person forever!  I think plenty of other people would be angry and tell that jerk exactly what they thought of his rude behavior.  Neither response would lead to any kind of neighborly relationship at all.

Can you guess what Gary said?  “Gee, you must have had an awful day to be acting like this.”  He and his neighbor actually became friends, or at least friendly.  His gentle and caring answer turned away wrath.  This situation taught me a lot about the power of words and the value not speaking impulsively (of course, I don’t always manage to do it.)

Here’s something the Bible says about our speech:

“I tell you, on the day of judgement men will render account for every careless word they utter;  for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Matthew 12:36-37

That’s a pretty sobering thought. You can not only end a relationship with harsh words,  you can help someone out and at the same time put them down and criticize them.  Do you love others with your words as well as your deeds?

 

Graceful Relationships

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Sarah’s post on symbiosis told us that relationships are a two way street.  If we want our relationships to survive and thrive, we have to extend a little grace — that’s a word we Lutherans like to use, which basically means getting something you didn’t earn and don’t deserve.  There are times in every relationship when we have to be willing to put aside our own needs and sacrifice for the other.  There’s a great “how to” section in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians.  You’ve probably heard this many times, but have you really thought about it?

“Love is patient and kind”

Am I patient with my friend, even when she forgets my birthday?  Or goes on and on about her favorite topic (which doesn’t interest me)? Am I kind and willing to listen to her problems, even on the days I’m tired and really don’t want to talk at all?

“love is not jealous or boastful.”

Am I sincerely happy for my brother when he gets a promotion while I am struggling financially?  Can I congratulate him without bringing up my latest success?

“it (love) is not arrogant or rude”

Am I respectful and courteous to the people who serve me at the restaurant, the bank, the grocery store?  Do I ask how their day is going?  Or do I ignore them in my rush to get on with my other errands?

“Love does not insist on its own way”

Do I give my husband and children a say in our family life and daily routines?  Or do I expect them to go along with my preferences?

“it (love) is not irritable or resentful”

Am I understanding when my co-worker needs extra time off?  Or do I feel put upon and angry?

“it (love) does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Do I try to put the best interpretation on the behavior of others?  Am I will to forgive them when they’re wrong and keep encouraging and believing in them?  Or do I give up and walk away?

In all our relationships, the greatest asset is love.  Use it daily.

 

In Marriage Relationships

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Marriage is like taking that huge step off a cliff and not knowing how it’s all going to end.  But for most marriage starts with two people, deeply in love, that commit to stay with each other until death do us part.  We have stars in our eyes and we know that life is going to be so wonderful.  Then the problems start.

Most marriages today don’t have the commitment factor that they used to.  Yes, I know that people have stayed in miserable conditions just because they married the person they have come to hate.  It takes two to commit together, two to stay together.  Two hearts need to stay as one.  During the wedding God knits two totally separate people and makes them one.

Now, my marriage wasn’t the greatest.  Both my husband and I had problems.  We actually separated for awhile and then came back together.  We learned to live together and we had a good relationship.  Was it the wonderful lifetime that I imagined when we stood at the altar, no.  It was hard work, but we made it through.  My husband has been gone for over two years now and I can look back and see all the good and bad.  One of the good things is that we were committed to keeping the vows, to stay together through it all.  And we did.

This song by Andrew Peterson totally pulled at me from the first time I heard it.  It is so truthful.  We should take the words to heart.  We shouldn’t just walk (or tiptoe) through the minefields in a marriage, we should go dancing through them.  Sail through the storms.  Knowing that Jesus is the Lord of the relationship should cause us to rejoice.  So, let’s go dancing!!

symbiosis

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symbiosis

n. pl. sym·bi·o·ses (-sēz)

1. Biology A close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may, but does not necessarily, benefit each member.

2. relationship of mutual benefit or dependence. 

As a self professed introvert relationships sometimes seem to be a lot of hard work. I mean, do you know how emotional people can get!? Its exhausting, almost nobody just says:

‘Hey, You take a nap while I bring you some wine and dark chocolate.’

I suppose that would fall under number one of the symbiosis definition, and that wouldn’t be very fair. Definition number two, the one that says a relationship is of mutual benefit, is probably the better deal though. 

While everyone has great capacity to be selfish, and lazy; absolutely no one was put on this earth solely to be served. Not even me. God’s own son (think about that) came not be served but to serve. Therefore, I can hardly expect someone else to leave me in introvert paradise, with only the occasional appearance of a loyal maid or butler. People, like it or not, need other people. We are designed that way.

Genisis 2:18  The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  

Side Note Ladies: By ‘man’ I’m including the meaning ‘man-kind’.

Sure it’s work to have and be in relationships, but that’s because we’re a fallen people in a flawed world. If everything were the way God first intended us to be, then the best part of our relationships today could be considered but a glimpse, a shadow of the reality it could have been. What I believe we can expect in heaven.

In the mean time, we just need to continue to drown our old selves in our baptismal waters and allow our Christ renewed selves to fill the relationships we have.

Amen.

New Month/New Theme

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Since I didn’t get any suggestions for an August theme, I decided to continue with another aspect of the unity theme:  relationships.  If we go back to the beginning of humankind, in the book of Genesis, we see that God created us to be in relationship with Him and with each other.  These relationships were to be true unions meant to foster wholeness and health.  When sin entered the world, all this changed.  Adam becomes fearful of God and tries to avoid Him;  He and Eve blame each other for the unfortunate state of affairs created by their misdeeds.  Instead of wholeness, we find brokenness;  instead of health, disease and death.

The Bible is a book about relationships:  God and His people, men and wives, siblings, parents and children, teachers and students, kings and subjects.  Feel free, ladies to explore all of them!  How are your relationships going?  What helps keep relationships strong?  What hinders or hurts relationships?  Can broken relationships be restored?

There are an unlimited number of ideas to discuss, and everyone is also free to go “off topic” as the Spirit leads.  Happy blogging!

Agree In the Lord, Example #1

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Years ago, before my husband was a Pastor, I was elected to the Church Council as recording secretary.  After I read my first meeting minutes, our Pastor started to make a comment ….then he chuckled and said, “never mind, Joan, I’ll talk to you about the minutes later.”

I was embarrassed and upset.  Something was obviously wrong with the way I recorded the meeting, and he had let everyone else know it.  I went to him later and said, “You might as well have just gone ahead and criticized me there.  Why didn’t you just finish telling me what I did wrong?”

His answer?  “I started to say your minutes were the best we had ever had, but I caught myself, realizing how rude and ungrateful that would sound to the members who had done it before.”  As you can imagine, that deflated my anger in a second.  Now I was embarrassed to realize how quickly I had jumped to the wrong conclusion.

My point?  We can’t assume we know what someone else is thinking, or what their actions really mean.  If you’re in doubt, do as the Bible says, go to that person and ask.  You may find out you misjudged them, or you may be giving them an opportunity to apologize.  Either way, you’ve saved your relationship and you can continue to “agree in the Lord.”

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The Threefold Cord

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“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they will keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Something is drawing me back to Ecclesiastes, the book that Leslie blogged extensively about last month. The verses above have been used to describe the unions of both marriage and friendship. When we go back to the very beginning, God said,

“It is not good that the man should be alone;  I will make him a helper fit for him.”  Genesis 2:18

According to the author of Ecclesiastes we’re meant to live in relationship, in union with others.  With a friend or a mate, life is easier, safer and more comfortable. We will be happier and accomplish more. But did you notice anything else?  In every relationship there must be a third component — that’s God.  God is the glue that holds every human union together.  Without Him, we’re bound to eventually break apart on the rocks of our own selfishness and sin.  It’s the third strand in the cord that keeps them going.

So, we don’t need to just have a relationship with God, we need to make God a part of every relationship in our life.  Peace, joy, patience, kindness, love, self-control–no union survives without them, and we can’t manufacture them on our own.  They’re gifts of the Holy Spirit.  So as Charles Spurgeon once said, “Let the lion out of the cage.”  Don’t keep God penned up except for Sunday mornings–let Him into your marriage, your friendships, your workplace, your family.  Let Him transform all those relationships.

 

Spending Time with “God Questions”

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Spending Time with “God Questions”

Good morning! Sorry about not posting the last two days but when you have severe wind and hail damage to your roof and it is leaking, it becomes priority! LOL! On to today’s post and the conclusion of our blog study on Ecclesiastes 3… today we will take a look at verses 16-22…

I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt! I said to myself, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.” I also thought about the human condition—how God proves to people that they are like animals. For people and animals share the same fate—both breathe and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless! Both go to the same place—they came from dust and they return to dust. For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.

Wow! There is a lot going on in this passage of Scripture! Solomon is a writer who writes about what he observes and the experiences he has. I am very much like that. I, like Solomon, see such corruption in the world in places there ought not be. You probably do as well. The corruption ranges from the highest levels of government down to local magistrates. We see it in our homes, on our T.V.’s, on the internet, at school, while shopping… we even see it in the church.

You can tell Solomon is upset about his observations, rightly so. But he reminds himself that in due time everyone will be judged when they come before the throne of Grace. He is also reminding himself that he can’t right every wrong in the world, that is God’s job. Continuing his observation of destructive and evil behaviors, he reflects on our human condition, and concludes that we are not that different than the animals. We are born, we breathe, and then we die. Then he asks a question… How do we really know that humans go to heaven when they die and animals return to the earth? Solomon ponders this question, and comes to the conclusion… We only get one life so we might as well make the most of it, and enjoy it, while we are here.

I wonder if he realized he had answered his own question in one of the previous verses! Verse 11 says…

Yet God has made everything beautiful in its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

We differ from animals because we have the hope of eternity… God has planted it in our hearts! To really grasp the magnitude of this we have to understand that we were put on this earth for a purpose. We (humans) are instruments of God to carry out His divine plan for life. We have to understand that the only way to know God’s plan for our life is to continually seek His face. We can’t do it by ourselves. We have to be in an intimate relationship with God, through Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to be our compass. It takes building a relationship and openness with the Triune God to figure out our purpose in life.

Spend time asking yourself… Do I grasp the immensity of the hope I have in eternity?  Am I in communion with the Triune God, building an intimate relationship? Am I living the life that God wants me to live? Do I see my life as a gift from God?

Then ask God…Why on earth did you create me for such a time as this? What can I do with my life to bring more of you to the world?

God loves you and so do I?

Leslie

 

photo courtesy of mycongregationalchurch.com