How do we establish and maintain healthy relationships?
There are 4 things that come with establishing and maintaining healthy relationships in life.
Healthy relationships imply a covenant
A covenant is an agreement two parties make together. This agreement means that they lay down values that will govern their relationship.
Part of this agreement also implies that these two parties have decided to be on a journey together. The idea of journey implies two things: 1) maps and 2) territory.
Maps help us find a way to move from one place to the next. There is not always one way to get where we want to go though. Therefore, maps can be changed and adapted to a particular situation.
Every day, we wake up with some kind of maps. In other words, we have stuff we want to get done. But, the question is often: what is your destination this day?
To help with clarity on what our destination should look like everyday can be done through the following two questions:
How would what you do today change you into a better person?
How would what you do this day bless people that are dear in your life?
Every action we do and decision we make during the day, we should think of how this will impact us personally and the people that are dear to us.
Healthy relationships imply spiritual principles
First, healthy relationships are grounded in God, the Creator. God’s intention for humankind was that all human beings may live in relationship with God and each other.
Healthy relationships have four crucial components
1. It is OK To Be Vulnerable
This word has two elements in it: vulner (from Latin) and ability. Vulner has to do with wounds, brokenness or hurt. So being vulnerable is not a weakness, but the ability to open up to someone else about wounds, imperfections, hurt, so forth.
A healthy relationship is about knowing someone inside out. Both parties, in this covenant relationship, have to be willing to pour their souls before each other.
2. Transformation Happens As We Open Ourselves Up To Someone
Being vulnerable introduces to transformation. It eventually leads to personal and communal growth.
Growth is not something one can initiate in another. It is God’s expertise. He is the One to change people’s lives. Paul said once that: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth”
As a result of what’s happening in our lives, people, we dear most, will eventually be impacted too.
3. Be Intentional
Transformation as the third component of healthy relationships closely depends on intentionality. How you want your day to change in a way of strengthening your relationships will be a result of your own choices you make early in the morning or at the beginning of the week.
Being intentional has to do with clarifying on your priorities.
What do you want to do today, which will make you grow as a Christian and as a person? Asking this question will help you decide what should be done first. In the process, you will eventually discover that there are things that can wait.
The second thing to help you in this discerning process is to know what will help you care better for what matters most for you: self, family, church, community.
4. Act On It Now
The last component of healthy relationships has to do with action.
Now that you are intentional about establishing and maintaining healthy relationships, you need to get to work.
All the above 3 components for better relationships have to be put on paper.
Your plan has to become alive now.
Action is more like re-creating your life for the days, weeks, months and years to come.
In the beginning, God said: “let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” And “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”
If we, humans, are in God’s image, then we have power to do as God did in the beginning.
Next, we are to use our minds, words and hands to determine how a day, a week, month, year, can be purposefully lived out.
3 practical ways to do all the above
A. Connect with the Creator, the True Source of Life.
On our own, we have no power to do anything at all. That is the reason why we have to begin with God. It is in God, “we live, move and have our being.”
Pray and Read Scripture as part of your daily devotions.
B. Design Your Day
Out of your personal relationship with God, you will begin having clarity on who you are and eventually what to do next. Let ‘who you are’ define ‘what you should do.’ Who you are should always come first. It is the foundation of everything you do in life. This foundation defines the values you hold onto as a human being. Let these values script your day out, which will make it much easier to know what you should do or not do.
Personally, to help me design my day, I use applications on my devices. There are thousands you could explore on your smartphones or other devices if you are not using any of them. I primarily use Evernote, Cozi Family Organizer, Byword, and so forth.
On Evernote, I create a “to do list,” which will be based on our Family Organizer. Because, my family are my primary ministry, much of what I do has to line up with what we schedule for the girls. Based on the “to do list” from my evernote, which is synched with the one on Cozi, Lydia will then be able to see my activities of the day in addition to what we have already planned as a family.
This has been a learning process for us as the girls grow, as it may be for you too.
In a future post, I will share more with you on all this. Also, I will be curious to know how you organize your day.
C. Let It Be Life-Giving To You and Others
Now that you have connected with God and have designed your day, what you have to do is just to go and be!
Remember that God lives and works through you.
Connecting with God and organizing your day will help you prioritize and do what matters the most for you: relationships (family, church and community).
This post was adapted from the sermon, “An Undivided Heart For God,” I delivered at the United Methodist Church in Harris and Lake Park (Iowa) on June 12, 2016.