Ingredients to Lasting Relationships

Many people are looking for lasting relationships with others—and I certainly don’t mean just the romantic type.  People usually look for companionship, loyalty, love and intimacy with those they value the most.  However, there are also many people who can’t seem to make a certain relationship or relationships last very long, and they wonder why.  Chances are they are missing one or more of these “ingredients” to having a lasting relationship. The following characteristics are personal qualities that both parties must possess or strive to have for the other in order to make the relationship work:

  1. Perseverance—I believe one of most important qualities to have that will make any type of relationship last is perseverance. Perseverance means being willing to “tough-it-out” in the difficult times of the relationship and to not give up on the other person.  I have seen too many times that when one person offends another, there is such disgust for the other that one or both parties are not willing to continue with the relationship. They then either avoid each other, or the offending party tries to retaliate by slandering or physically attacking the person that hurt them.  I have made similar mistakes with people, from the people I have worked with to my classmates when I was still in school. However, several years ago, I had so many difficulties with a few people at work that I essentially had asked God to remove them from my life. While I may not have used those exact words, what I meant was essentially that.  However, God wanted to teach me the principle of perseverance in order so I could learn from these people, so God refused to remove them from my presence. So, at least weekly, if not daily, I had some type of interaction with them—both good and bad.  However, when I was forced to interact with these people, eventually I was forced to deal with the issues that were creating a hedge between the other people and me. So, after some time, we did, and the relationship was even stronger than it was before we started having problems! I tell this story, not to rehash old wounds, but to teach others to deal with their relational issues and not give up so easily on other people.
  2. Love—Another essential quality to have that will make any type of relationship have is love. In order to truly have this kind of quality in a relationship, we must first be willing to be intentionally kind to the other person. One way to do this is to see what the other person’s needs are, and find ways we can help them. We must put aside our selfish desires, and do what is best for the other person.  For instance, if someone at work is overwhelmed by the amount of returns in their department that they are assigned to, and I am done early with my area, in order to really love them, I must be willing to help them out when they need it.  Finally, we must be willing to be faithful and loyal to the other person. This means we will refuse to gossip about the other person, or betray him or her in any other way.  They don’t have to be number one in our lives, but they do have to feel loved and valued by you.
  3. Sacrifice—Another quality that is essential to make a relationship last is sacrifice. When one or both parties are not willing to sometimes give up what they want for the other, the relationship will never last. This involves putting the other person’s needs ahead of their own. A good example of someone laying down their life in order to save the other person’s. Sacrifice is basically the willingness to lose something for the betterment of another. For instance, many mothers are willing to sacrifice time for refreshment and relaxation so that their children can spend time with them or so that she can drive them to extracurricular activities, which they can enjoy with their friends.  Sometimes when my managers are feeling overwhelmed, I am willing to sacrifice my time so that they have less on their plate, so to speak.
  4. Humility—I believe selfishness and its cousin, pride, are the top reasons why some relationships don’t last very long. However, when we are willing to, for example, admit and confess our faults to others, I believe our relationships will last longer because then they will know that we are not trying to pretend we are any better than they are and that we are willing to fix what is wrong or broken within us.  I read somewhere that Mark Hall (source: unknown) from Casting Crowns once said, “It does not bother the world that we sin, but it bothers them when we act like we don’t.” Everyone sins. Everyone makes mistakes.  The first step to remedy it is to admit that we were wrong.  Some people may think that admitting wrongdoing is “weak.” Nothing could be further from the truth. It often takes great strength and acting against every grain of prideful being to admit where we were wrong.  Another part of humility is valuing another person above ourselves. This often includes sacrifice, but it also comprises of love, persevering, and caring about the other person and their needs.

When we never give up on someone, they will see that we are there for them through the long haul. When we love someone with all of our being, the people who were are in relationships with will feel valued.  When we are willing to die to self in order to see another’s needs met, we tell these people that we really care about and for them.  When we are humble and willing to admit our faults, they will see that it is safe to open up about their faults without feeling judged and condemned by you because they will know that you don’t think lowly of them. I strongly believe that if we follow these characteristics, we will have more lasting relationships and change the world around us for the better.

 

 

Advertisements

How to Find Someone’s Spark

Written in honor of Rachel Joy Scott, the first Columbine martyr, and the one who lived an amazing life, full of love and faith

Many times in my life, whether it would be people at school (when I was attending), at work, and even in the churches I attended; people have broken off contact with someone because of a couple bad incidents.  So, maybe they were really bad! Still, I think the following that Rachel Scott wrote in her essay, “My Ethics, My Codes of Life, “deserve serious consideration and application to our relationships:

[I]magine you had just met someone, and you speak to them three times on brief, everyday conversations. They come off as a harsh, cruel, stubborn and ignorant person. You reach your judgment just on these three encounters. Let me ask you something…did you ever ask them what their goal in life is, what kind of past they came from, did they experience love, did they experience hurt, did you look into their soul and just at their appearance? Until you know them and not just their “type,” you have no right to shun them. You have not looked their beauty, their good. You have not seen the light in their eyes. Look hard enough and you will always find a light, and you can even help it grow, if you don’t walk away from those three impressions first.

So, how can we find the light, or the positive parts of another’s personality, particularly if they do come off as cruel, stubborn, harsh, ignorant, or negative in any way to us?  How can we not give up on our relationships when things get tough?  How can we prevent ourselves from writing off people who we disagree with, or who aggravate us sometimes? (Note: This does not apply to situations of abuse or people who are genuinely unsafe to be around).  How can we cultivate a passion for loving those who are initially undesirable in some way to us? Here is what I learned about finding someone’s spark, or light, in their soul and how I would help it grow:

  1. Strive not to make snap judgments of others.—Much of our society makes snap judgments based on things that won’t matter in eternity, such as physical appearance and social class. I believe this is very sad, not only because many people in our world write off people who could be very kind and gentle inside, just because of something trivial like their physical appearance or how much money they make, but also because these judgers will not be able to grow past their preconceived notions of others and cultivate growing relationships with others.  Unfortunately, even making snap judgments about someone’s character is not effective in gauging who would be a good friend.  For instance, I know of several people at work who I initially did not get along with well.  Most people, if they were in my place, would probably quit their job and/or avoid these people at all costs.  However, God prevented me from doing so.  In addition, I even had to interact with most of these people on at least a weekly, if not, daily basis!  One thing I learned from having to interact with these people was not to make snap judgments of them, and instead look for their light in their souls.
  2. Learn their life stories.—Another thing that can help us find the spark in someone, is to learn some of their life story. Find out what kind of past they came from—what they had to endure to get to where they are now. Find out how they were treated in the past, if they have ever experienced true, sacrificial (agape) love, and not just a flippant form of “love,” what hurts and triumphs they have experienced in their lives?  When I learned some of the life story about someone that I initially did not really like, I began to understand why they acted like they did and began to have compassion and even love for them. When we are able to appreciate what someone we may not initially get along with, has gone through, I find that we are more able to relate to and/or have compassion for them.
  3. Do intentional acts of kindness for them.—What I have had to learn to do with certain people with whom it was difficult to get along is to intentionally be kind to them. This won’t work if you do this only out of obligation or because you say “I’ll be the better person” but inside you are still full of anger and resentment towards them.  However, if you strive to be kind to even those who you dislike, in order to show them the love they probably so desperately need, then the light in their souls will most likely start to expose itself.  For instance, if you live next to a grumpy neighbor, but he keeps a neat yard, compliment him on his maintenance of the yard.  Tell him how much you appreciate his hard work and dedication to do his part to make the neighborhood look neat.  Be genuine in your compliment, of course, but also don’t be afraid to encourage others in need.  For another example, I have had coworkers who I have had trouble dealing with at first, but when I tried to encourage them in something good that they did and tried to help them with their work, I found that I got along much better with them! Not only that, but I found some positive qualities in them that I had not taken the time to find before!

When we strive not to judge against people whom we initially not see eye-to-eye, when we strive to learn more about others’ life stories, and when we intentionally strive to be kind to those we don’t  like, at first, then we will be able to find the light in these people’ s souls.  When we find the light in them, we can help their light grow by continuing to apply these principles to our relationship with them. May we do that, and make the world a better place.

 

Source: Scott, Rachel Joy. My Ethics, My Codes of Life. March 1999. Retrieved from: https://rachelschallenge.org/media/media_press_kit/Code_of_ethics.pdf.

The Shining Light

The Shining Light 4/3/2018

In a callous world

Full of hate

People everywhere

Searching for something

That will sate

 

People around us

Searching for that last hope

When they’re on this last rope

And all their dreams are gone

 

Then comes a savior

Digging down deep inside them

With all divine might

Revealing a bright light

 

The light blossoms and grows

Within the depths of their souls

And burst forth gems of love

The love from up above

What I Learned From the “Be Kind” quote

The quote, “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle,” is widely misattributed to Plato, but actually Ian MacLaren, or John Watson, is said to be the original source of this quote. (source: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/06/29/be-kind/). God has been putting this quote in my mind a lot recently, in the wake of stress and my wanting to be less upset and irritated by people and things around me.  Here is what I have learned from meditating on this quote that can be applied to anyone of any belief in every walk of life:

  1. Being kind is rooted in our gratitude.—When we are ungrateful, it is hard to think that others deserve anything good at all. We feel entitled to our “stuff,” that we lose sight of other people’s stories. However, when we see each day and each thing as a gift that is not necessarily deserved, we are freer to be able to give to others our kindness and our gifts. When we realize what some other people go through are harder than what we are currently dealing with, we appreciate our lives more. For instance, a lot of people I know don’t have a lot of supportive family and friends and have gone through some very rough times in their lives with little help. When I hear their stories, I appreciate that I have my family and my church community to help me through rough times in my life. I am kinder to those that have less support because I want them to be able to have the help that I already have.
  2. Being kind is rooted in how much we care for others.—When we care about other people, we are more likely to be sympathetic and empathetic to their hurt and pain in their life. We are more likely to do more than just to offer superficial platitudes, and instead, try to do something to help alleviate their pain and get through their tough situation in life. We don’t feel burdened down by our own problems, because we are not self-focused, but are willing and able to give our love and support to others as well.  If I am stressed and burdened by my own problems, I am much less effective in helping others through theirs because not only am I being self-focused but my capacity to care and think about others is also decreased.  Yes, there are times when our problems will seem insurmountable and burdensome, but when we try to also look outside ourselves and our pain, we are not only able to help others overcome their difficulties, but our own problems will also seem less intense and heavy.
  3. Being kind is rooted in our humility—Being arrogant, to me, is thinking that you are better than everyone else, that everyone else is inferior to you. When one is arrogant, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for them to be kind to others. When one realizes that their needs are not necessarily more important than another’s, they are more able to be kind and care for others effectively.  When your mindset is to be kind to everyone because everyone is going through something that may be harder than the burden you are carrying, you are valuing others and are not thinking with a “poor-me” attitude.  You are submitting yourself to another’s needs because you know that other people have value and need your support too.

Though being kind is sometimes difficult and takes a lot of thought and care, it is better than being unkind and rude to others.  Being kind is rooted in our thankfulness of what has been given to us, because our gratitude is expressively linked to how kind we are able to be to others. It is rooted in how much we care about other people and their lives.  Finally, being kind is rooted in being humble because it is necessary to be able to prefer another above yourself, in both their needs and desires.  Who can you be kind to today?