What Relationships Teach Us

This afternoon as I headed home from a brief road trip, I caught the last few minutes of today’s “Focus on the Family” radio broadcast. Today’s show featured Gary Thomas, author of several books, most notably one that I’ve been wanting to read for a while now, Sacred Marriage.

Gary was discussing how marriage was not designed by God to completely meet our needs, nor was it intended to make us happy. Rather, marriage was designed to reflect God’s glory, to make us holy.

I think this can apply to all relationships ordained by God. Certainly no one–no boyfriend or girlfriend, no spouse, no parent, no child, no friend, no employer or employee–can meet all of our needs. No one can fulfill us. The sooner we realize that, the better all of these relationships will be.

When you’re in love, there are days that are magical. Days where our beloved seems to anticipate our every need and meet them in ways beyond our wildest dreams. Days when they lovingly surprise us with little gifts or thoughtful words or some act of service. On those days, we feel like we can do anything, with the love and support of our beloved behind us.

But there are also days where things aren’t quite as magical. Days where our honey forgets to do something they promised to do. Days where one of us is giving more than the other, and resentment starts to rear its ugly head. Days where they let us down, or we let them down, or both. On those days, when we’ve “lost that loving feeling”, it’s easy to feel like a failure. Unfortunately, this is where many people call it quits in their relationship.

But the purpose of relationships is not to make us feel good all the time. No matter how solid and Christ-centered the relationship is, there will come a day when things are not going well. We’re all sinners, none of us are perfect–so why would we expect a relationship made up of two imperfect people to be perfect?

In my relationship with God, there are days where everything’s clicking and it feels like He’s anticipating my every need and desire and rushing to meet them before I can scarcely think of them. And those are indeed wonderful days.

But if I’m really honest with myself, there are days where I feel let down by God. Certainly He does not “let us down”–His every action is for our ultimate good and for His ultimate glory–but sometimes it feels like He’s disappointed us.

Of course, looking at things from His perspective, He is the one who’s really getting a raw deal in this relationship. I don’t always trust Him completely. I sometimes question His love and motives. I don’t always do what He wants me to do. I let Him down time after time. I am lured by other gods–material things, wealth, TV–to worship them rather than appreciate and respect Who I already have.

How thankful I am for what God has taught me through all kinds of relationships, and more importantly, through my relationship with Him. I believe that the more that I lean on Him to meet my needs, the better my other relationships will be. I am so unworthy of being in any kind of relationship with Him–and yet He pursues me anyway. What an amazing thought!

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