Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hardcore Brokenness: Mending Relationships

So, as promised, here is the post that was supposed to go up yesterday! Sorry that took so long, it's been a really crazy week.

Before starting, I'd like to establish that in this post, the word 'relationship' will be used in the general context of any type of social connection between two people, not in any way specifically referring to romance or dating or anything of the like, but also not excluding them.

I think it's safe to say that a lot of the things we perceive as negative in our lives come from the drama of damaged relationships. We all have them- those friends who things just never seem right with, the parents we blame for everything that's wrong, the loved ones we grow apart from- but what we don't seem to realize is that our relationships matter a lot!

I often find myself getting frustrated with people, or feeling disconnected from friends and family, and dismiss it until it becomes a real problem. If we do this and allow our problems to get bigger and bigger before dealing with them, they become unbearable and even more harm is done. We need to be able to identify when a relationship is failing and bring it up, as uncomfortable as that may be, so that measures can be taken to save it. I'm not even going to claim that this is a biblical principle- it just makes good sense. Humans are social creatures, we're hard-wired to care about each other (which is kind of beautiful, if you ask me), so it makes a lot of sense that we should strive to have right and functional relationships with as many people as possible.

But how can we do this?

One thing I've realized about my own approach to relationships is that I try to be intentional with them. If it's a relationship that I really feel the need to nurture and grow in, I will intentionally make time for that person as much as I'm able- but only if they are willing to do the same. I also tend to ignore small things that bother me, even if they get repeated on a regular basis, because we have to endure one another out of love, right?

If your enduring of someone begins to put a serious strain on your relationship with that person, it is okay to tell them that! You can be incredibly loving and unconditional with that love, but if you really care about the health of the relationship, you should be willing to risk it by bringing up the things that are harder to talk about. Sometimes people just don't realize they're driving you crazy until you tell them. Now, all that's to say it's not really okay to attack them with it- if you have an issue with someone it's very important to be tactful in the way that you deal with it, especially if you value the relationship at all.

But what if someone tries to do that with you, and fails to be tactful?

This is something that has come up for me a number of times. A really close friend of mine has always been really reliable when it comes to calling me out on things I'm doing that aren't Christlike. I appreciate that a lot because I would have made even more bad decisions without his guidance there. He always lacked tact though, and that put a bit of a strain on our relationship for a long time, because any time he would call me out on these things, I would feel hurt and attacked despite also knowing he was right and going to apply the changes. I think in these situations, it's important to do two things: First, to call them out on their tactlessness, and thank them for the advice; and Second, to keep short accounts with them.

This is a principle that Jesus taught, of turning the other cheek and being quick to forgive and whatnot. He at one point warns us that if we have a problem with our brother we should drop everything and go deal with it before making our sacrifices in worship to the Lord. I think this is a super important thing to apply to our lives, and is something I need to get a lot better at.

So, if you're reading this and you have a problem with me and want to mend our relationship- talk to me! :)

Tune in next Wednesday (for real this time) for the next post in this series! And don't forget to check back on Monday for an update about my New Year's Resolution ;)


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