As we go through life, we form a plethora of relationships with a variety of people. These relationships shift over time. Some become stronger, deeper. Some relationships tire and mutually drift off. Then, there are the relationships where the affection of one party grows, while the other party resists, is indifferent, doesn’t feel the same… Is either party at fault? This isn’t the way relationships are intended.
Humans are relational by nature. If you were to ask me: Nature v Nurture? I would have to respond, Yes. To what degree, I am not certain. However, given any environment, I believe enough social-emotional connection and nurturing, can assist in educating and overcoming what barriers exist.
What do I mean by that? Take a young couple, barely into adulthood, newly parents. Couple has baby. They decide it is best for Mom to stay home with the baby, instead of daycare, for economic reasons. In this, baby can securely attach to Mom. Mom can nurture baby, bond – meet baby’s physical, social, and emotional needs. Baby also forms a secure attachment to Dad. Couple is able to create learning experiences for baby through everyday tasks. Going to the park, church, and library play groups, Mom and baby socialize with other Moms and babies. We know relationships are essential. The relationships Moms form with babies early on impact future growth, development, and health.
Other relationships that are essential, and natural progressions, are peer relationships – friendships. Someone recently said to me: Jessy, you don’t know how special you are to me. I had to really ponder that statement, Do I know how much I mean to you? Do I know how special I am to you? Do I not treat you in a way that represents I know, or care that I am near and dear to your heart? Do you know the answer that came back to me? NO. I had not behaved in a way that demonstrated that I knew how special I was to this person. It pains me to admit this… There must have been hurt and misunderstandings on both sides… Looking back, hadn’t she always let me in? Did I not recognize it, or did I allow the words of others to hinder me, and unknowingly make me feel like I didn’t belong? Sometimes you need to hear those words, to know what you mean to someone. Sometimes you need to say those words, so others know what they mean to you…
There are those spousal relationships… Am I qualified to write about this? I had lunch with my godmother this week and she told me something I found beautiful. She said, for the first time in all these years, it has finally dawned on me that we are one. And, to pray for him, I must pray the same as if I am praying for my arm if it hurts. I don’t ask it why it’s hurting, I just try to fix it – make it better. What a beautiful revelation. You are never too young or old to grasp the meanings of concepts. That’s all I’ll say about that… It’s not that marriage is a touchy subject – it isn’t, as a divorcée, with no intentions of remarriage, I have no words on the topic, just wanted to share the beautiful story.
As our children grow, our relationships with them change. All the work done with them early on will determine the relationship you have with them during those critical Junior High and High School years. Were you engaged? Did you build trust? Were you a parent on whom your child(ren) could depend? Are you approachable? Can you/ Do you talk about anything – and normalize it into everyday conversation? My relationship with my children is everything to me. For the most part, we can talk about everything. Some things catch me off guard, and I try not to let it show. When I have let it show, I have had to apologize about my reactions. The last thing I ever want to do is shame my kiddos for who they are, or feeling what they feel. Or the questions they have.
Working with youth and families, I realize that relationships are not linear, rather they can be looked as maybe on a continuum. Does a relationship ever truly end? I don’t think so. They are ever evolving, as the individuals involved in each relationship grows/ changes, the relationship experiences shifts, and changes. And some relationships are influenced by others – whether directly or indirectly. We just have to be careful to note if the influence is positive or negative.
There is such an obsession on relationships as of late, I have noticed. For a time, I was quite consumed as well. I was consumed with friendships I didn’t have – never mind the ones I did. Consumed with the failed relationships of the past, not living my life, right here, right now, as Christ intended. Not loving myself the way He wants, feeling all unworthy. There are those around me, that just want me to be happy. “Whatever, or whomever, Christ has for me.” And I don’t mean any disrespect when I honestly ask them: Does He have someone? How do you know? I feel so content in Him right now, do you think He just wants me to be remain single?
The story of the Samaritan woman at the well gets me each time I hear it. Leaves me wondering, and then what? What happened next? Sometimes I feel like the best parts are left out of the Bible, what happened after… How did she live? Was she forever changed? Did she marry for good? Did she remain single? Was she one of the 120 on the Day of Pentecost, or maybe later? Just what exactly happened to her?! What became of those relationships?
In any case, we form relationships from the day we born. It is an innate ability, an innate desire. We are relational beings. There are times I have the desire to isolate and I have to force myself to join the land of the other relational beings. This means, at times coming out of my comfort zone, going the extra mile, putting myself out there, and just plain doing that thing – you know, the one I didn’t want to, but I’m doing it just to hang out with you, because I value our relationship ❤️