Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different? ~C.S Lewis
Over the last several months I have become more aware of distance and difficulties in relationships. The distance and struggles have not only been present in my own life, but in the lives of some of my friends and acquaintances. In one week’s time, 5 different couples I know, said they were either hanging on by a thread, or filing for divorce. That absolutely broke my heart. I kept wondering how they got to that point, and if there was any hope that it wasn’t too late to change things.
I’ve also been saddened by the changes in many of my own relationships. I found my heart swirling with questions about my friendships and marriage. What changed in my life? Why is there distance? Is this the time to let go of this relationship, or am I supposed to try harder? What could I do differently to fix things? Is there something I need to apologize for? Can I fix things? How do I work on my own marriage to prevent separation and divorce?
And so I prayed…”Lord what do you want me to do?”
I felt like He left me with one word to cling to…
In each of the relationships that have been heavy on my heart lately, the changes didn’t happen overnight. People generally don’t wake up one morning with strained relationships (whether it be in marriage, friendships, or even with parents/children) sure, sometimes there is something big that takes place and damages the relationship, but more commonly the distance and strain happens through a gradual shift until one day the sobering realization comes to light: things are no longer like they used to be. Maybe that loved one in your life doesn’t call like they used to, or they don’t spend time like they used to. (Or maybe you’re the one that no longer calls…) Maybe the affection is gone, or you find it difficult to even have a conversation anymore. (Maybe you have stopped being affectionate or opening up your heart…) Maybe you fight more than you get along, or would rather be anywhere other than home, but why? Has one of you stopped trying? I know in some of my own relationships, I have stopped trying, and that’s done nothing to mend the bond.
If you are experiencing this shift in a relationship that is weighing on your heart (just as I am in my own life) I invite you to come along-side me for the duration of this A-Z series as we examine the importance of being intentional in our relationships. If we want things to change, and our relationships to be strengthened, we have to be intentional with our time, efforts, and prayers. Good relationships don’t stay good relationships without effort, so let’s be willing to work towards being intentional with the people that matter the most to us. It is my prayer that as we challenge ourselves to put forth intentional effort through this series, we will rejoice in seeing our efforts produce bonds that are stronger than ever.
I want to begin this series at the beginning of the alphabet.
A is for Admire
I’m not sure if it’s the same for you as it is for me, but when I’ve been hurt or feeling distant from someone I care about, it’s easier for me to focus on their faults, and the ways they have let me down, than the things that are worthy of praising. If I’m being honest, when I’m really struggling, I can hardly think of a single thing that is good. (Seriously, who wants to give praise to the bad guy?!)
This common habit of mine isn’t biblical, nor productive. If I want to nurture the relationships with the people that are important in my life, I have to let go of the ugliness inside my heart.
Because of this common habit of mine, I want this week’s challenge to be about being intentional about changing the way we think about the important person in our life.
If we are going to be intentional in restoring relationships with people that matter to us, or even strengthening bonds in relationships that are doing well, we have to be positively and biblically focused on the way we think.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV
It’s difficult to draw closer to someone when all you’re thinking about is what you don’t like about them, and how they have hurt you.
Maybe they don’t listen when you need them to.
Maybe they’re sloppy.
Maybe they have criticized you.
Maybe they make you feel insignificant.
Maybe you are jealous of them.
Maybe they are jealous of you.
Maybe they have annoying habits.
Maybe they’ve lied.
Whatever that list may be, I challenge you today to trash it, and start over with a fresh way of thinking.
A is for Admire
What do you admire about the person in the relationship you’d like to strengthen?
Are they selfless?
Do they work hard?
Are they funny?
Do they have a positive outlook on otherwise frustrating situations?
Do they encourage you?
Are they a good hugger?
What is it that you admire about them?
This week I am going to make a list of at least 3 things I admire about the person I’m working to be intentional with. I’m asking you to walk this journey along with me, and make a list for your important person too. I know there must be someone on your heart today, and a relationship you’d like to see strengthened. It can be a spouse, sister, cousin, pastor, co-worker, parent, or child etc. but there’s someone that comes to mind that you’d love to be closer to. I’m hoping that thinking of things you admire about them, and making a list of those things will help you be intentional over the next several weeks in this series.
I want you to be specific.
Example: I admire the way you show up to work every day, even when you aren’t appreciated the way you should be. You take care of our family’s financial needs, and work with integrity. People know they can count on you to show up even if you don’t feel well because you put the needs of our family before anything else.
I want you to be detailed.
Example: I admire the joy you have when you serve in ministry. I love that you prepare for hours for the lessons you are going to teach, and I love the way you get excited to tell me how your class went each week. I love that you not only care about the ministries you serve, you are passionate about them. You aren’t just checking boxes to serve and please the Lord, you are pouring your whole heart into your service.
I want you to write it down.
When things are difficult or discouraging along the way, you may need to look at that list and remind yourself of what you have to praise. Maybe you’ll get a few days into being intentional in strengthening your relationship and things won’t change a bit. Maybe you will be met with resistance (or more distance) and that will make you want to just give up all together. Looking over the list of the things you admire about the important person in your life will help you see that it’s worth continuing to try, even on the difficult days. Maybe it will bless their heart for you to show them your list of things you admire about them.
I pray this week you will find joy in your heart as you are intentional with the ones that are important to you.
In His Love,
- The Importance Of Being Intentional In Relationships-An ABC Series- B Is For Building Up - January 10, 2018
- The Importance Of Being Intentional In Relationships- An ABC Series- A Is For Admire - January 3, 2018
- Before and After - December 27, 2017
- Merry Christmas from Rosalynn - December 19, 2017
- Don’t hide Him - December 13, 2017