Right Relationships with Others #3

 

 

Right Relationships with Others #3

1 John 2:29 (MSG)

Once you're convinced that he is right and righteous, you'll recognize that all who practice righteousness are God's true children.

 The “He” in this verse refers to God.  The scripture declares that God is love, God is what love does. 

 From our first session, you learned that everything rises and falls on relationships.  The four key relationships of life are the relationship you have with God, Others, Self, and the Earth. You know that the first relationship you need righting is your relationship with God.  Because of the sacrifice Jesus made, you can choose to be reconciled to God: Acknowledge, Believe, Commit, and Ask.  Once reconciled to God you are empowered to set all your other relationships right.  In our first session, there is a list of 30 characteristics of what a righteous relationship looks like.  These 30 characteristics create a word picture of the bond shared in your right relationship.  You will not be able to live this way, the way of the 30 characteristics if you do not have a right relationship with God.  Right now, do you have such a relationship, what can you possibly be waiting for?  Get right now and start living in thriving relationships.

 From our second session, you learned about the 6 relational bonds necessary for creating, maintaining, and growing a right relationship.  Time, Know, Trust, Rely, Commit, and Touch.  Forming and thriving in right relationships takes time. Over time we get to know the person.  We discover over time if they are trustworthy.  Then we discover that they can be relied upon, they can be counted on.  So we commit to making this relationship a priority.  Touch has to do with intimacy.  We don’t let strangers touch us, but when it comes to our friends and lover we welcome their touch.  

 The relational “Safe Zone” is depicted in the diagram below.


 “When the safe zone rule is followed, then your relationship grows in healthy and stable ways…”  “There is one basic rule for guarding the safe zone; never go further in one bonding area than you have gone in the previous.” (ibid.)  “You shouldn’t touch more than you are committed; you shouldn’t commit more than you rely upon; you shouldn’t rely more than you trust, and you shouldn’t trust more than you know”  (Relationship model teaches trust before touch - The Daily Universe (byu.edu) ).

 Suppose the “know” fader is all the way up and all the other faders are down to zero.  This is a picture of knowing about someone but not knowing them (Job 42:5).  You’ve spent time reading their bio and chasing their latest news, but you have never met them personally.  Now based on that knowledge you may decide that you can trust them, but dare you to rely on them, dare you to commit yourself to them.  Nope.  As we spend time with someone we experience their character, attitudes, and dispositions.  Doing things with them we learn their likes and dislikes, the things they are apt to do.  We learn their back story, and how they got to where they are today, that knowledge helps us understand why they do the things they do.  What a joy it is to know that the person you are hanging out with is real.  

 If the trust fader is the highest this is a dangerous relationship for you.  You may discover that your trust is misplaced and this person somehow betrays you.  Trust makes us vulnerable.  If you don’t know someone, it’s a gamble to trust them.  Have you ever purchased something on the recommendation of a celebrity only to find out that whatever you bought did match up to the expectation?  Put that on a relational level and what you thought a person was all about turned out to be something very different.  Few marriage relationships survive infidelity.  One partner has an affair and the trust fader drops to zero.  It takes years to push that fader back into the safe zone.  What a joy it is when you have a partner that you trust completely, you know that your heart is safe in their hands (Isaiah 26:3).

 An insecure relationship has a high Rely fader.  How scary! You are relying on someone to come through for you.  What if they can’t, what if they don’t?  I relied on the medical community to take care of my son.  In retrospect that was a bad choice.  I relied on someone to guide me through a legal maze.  I didn’t know the person beyond their bio.  I learned after it is a done deal that I settled for far too little.  You want to know and trust the person you are relying on.  What a joy it is when you have friends you know and trust you can rely on; that they will do their best to come through for you ( Psalm 46:1-3; Deuteronomy 31:6).

 When commitment ranks the highest among the five relational bonds then you have a one-way relationship.  You are the one always doing for, always acquiescing, there is little reciprocation.  You desperately want the relationship to work, you’ll do anything for the other person to keep it.  You are always second place.  You’re taken for granted.  You give, and you give, and you give, but it never satisfies.  You’re always at fault.  If you just try a little harder the relationship will be better.  If you don’t give them what they want there’s a fight, a tantrum, the silent treatment, passive-aggressive behaviors, or in worse case scenarios violence. This is bondage.  This is you being used to satisfy the wants of another.  What joy it is when you have a friend who is as committed to the shared relationship as you, you know that you will stand side by side when life goes crazy, and you know that you are in life together (Hebrews 13:5). 

 The last relationship bond is touch.  Think about the need for proximity to maintain and deepen a righteous relationship.  This is spending time with each other.  One of the reasons long-distance relationships often fail is because friends don’t connect often enough.  Yes, we have old friends, and when we finally get to be with them it’s like ole times.  But that’s a memory touch.  Memory touches are wonderful, the problem with them is it’s a relationship based on a memory, on what was.  Think about physical contact.  Hugs heal, the handshake, the high five, and the warm embrace is expressing an acceptance of one another.  Sexual intimacy is the highest form of touch.  If touch is the highest fader most likely you are in a romantic relationship that is going to end badly.  If there is no romance it’s just sex for the very temporary dopamine rush that once it wears off you’re still lonely.  Sex is all about attachment and reproduction, with an emphasis on attachment (Song of Songs 2:6, 3:4).  What a joy it is when the touch of the other affirms your relationship, it communicates that you are OK in the eyes of the other, and you know you are accepted warts and all (Matthew 17:7).

 When evaluating your relationships if you’re not in the safe zone identify which fader is in the wrong position.  Then make the adjustments.  Too physical then cut back until there is balance.  Too committed, then pull back, to foster reciprocity, that brings balance.  Too much reliance, then stop expecting so much of the person and do what you want them to do for you for yourself until there is balance.  Too much trust, blind trust, don’t be na├»ve.  Test if a person is worthy of your trust, do they do what they say they are going to do?  If not put up a barrier to protect your heart until you are convinced that what you see is the real person.  The problem with the know fader is knowing about but not experiencing the person.  This is overcome by spending time with the individual.  It takes about four seasons, spring, summer, fall, and winter, four quarters, to get to experience, someone. 

 In the safe zone, you will experience love.  Love is seeking to meet the need of another often at the cost of a personal sacrifice.  Righteous relationships are all about love. That list of 30 characteristics is all about caring for one another.  God wants you to enjoy a right relationship with others.  You were created social.  There is wonderful transparency that was revealed to us in Eden, the man and the woman were naked and unashamed.  What a picture of acceptance, of being safe.  You need this.  God has empowered you to create such a relationship with others.  Strive for righteousness in your own life and then use the power given to you to create, maintain and deepen right relationships with others.

 Just to add a little more to think about.  Right relationships regularly go out of balance.  Life’s pressures and circumstances force the five relational bonds over time to shift.  You sense a shift in your relationship, things just don’t feel right, and something is off, this is an invitation to check your five relational bonds.  One or more are most likely out of balance.  Since each bond is over time, it might be that you are not spending enough time together to maintain a satisfying relationship.  You balance through constant communication.  In a righteous relationship, you are free to express your needs, your wants, and even your suspicions.  Here’s a tip.  Don’t start by asking if something is wrong, start with what is bothering you.  Don’t expect the other to guess at what’s not up to par, tell them, but don’t accuse them.  People in right relationships listen to one another, they listen for the heart of what is being said.  Be wise in your responses but don’t go passive and fail to speak the truth in love.  The purpose of communication is to make each other transparent. 

 In our teaching, we learned that relationships thrive when they are in the “safe zone.”  You have a tool to help you create and maintain balance by examining the five relational bonds on faders.  You know that the biggest aid in balancing relationships is open, honest, loving communication.  We know that righteous relationships are founded in love, and thrive in love.  So if you want your life full of these kinds of relationships be a lover.  God has already empowered you to be so.


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