To Be Relational
God has designed us to be relational beings.
I’ve been reflecting for a while now and thanking God that He has taught me how to better relate to people over time. I have not perfected in this and it will be a lifetime journey, but what matters more is that I am opening myself to learn from God.
Had you met me as a child outside of my immediate family, you may have possibly wondered how you could ever get me to speak or even look you in the eye. I was driven by fear and shame. This was actually something I had talked about with an older cousin over Christmas. He was in his teens/twenties when he was trying for years to get me to open up as a kid. For that, I am actually grateful that he even gave me the time of day. And because he took time to relate to me some way, somehow, it empowered me in a sense and impressed deeply upon my being that it’s important to journey with people so that they would understand that they actually matter, and have the potential to be so much more than can be seen. Sometimes it’s true that others can see what you can’t see about yourself.
I’m not perfect in the way I relate to people. There are days when I just don’t want to talk very much or be around people because I just simply need some quiet(er) times away from the constant bombardment of information and noise. Without those quiet times, I wonder about how we can listen well to God and people, as well as speak effectively into people’s lives? Sometimes, it’s the most difficult to relate to the people you seem to be closest to such as family. But this doesn’t mean that because it’s difficult that we give up – instead, perhaps this means we need to think that in spite of the difficulties how can we strive to be better in relating? The world might tell you that relationships are about giving and taking but God teaches us that it’s about His unconditional love. It’s not about weighing how much the other person(s) give to you so that you can return something of the same value but rather how can we keep on trying even when it’s difficult (given that we have taken some time to pray and discern about the circumstances)?
God has been teaching and revealing to me where I fall short in relating to others. It’s not always easy to yield to God in areas that we fall short but as long as we allow Him to work in us, He causes us to be better at being in relationships with people.
Funny enough, as I took a pause from writing this post to spend some time in fellowship, a sister in Christ shared her story somewhat similar to this. It always amazes me how similar yet different God creates us. God has indeed strengthened my heart over the years. I am moved by His compassion for people and I would have probably gotten stuck at being sad for people not knowing how to move beyond that. However, God has shown me how to be compassionate and also to lift that compassion to Him in prayer because He is ultimately the one that brings transformation, hope, and healing. I am only but a conduit for Him if He opens up the opportunity.
I truly embrace and love the opportunities where God allows for there to be intergenerational and/or intercultural fellowship, it’s such a deep blessing to the core my being. I say this because I grew up as a curious child wanting to know the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ and most of all I wanted to learn about people’s life stories. But because I feared to communicate I didn’t know how to gather the stories. I’d say I wanted to know the stories to mainly fulfill my curiousity but the reason has changed as I grew up. I want to know people’s stories now because I want to understand the person for who they are – as God’s created being, a person, God’s child, someone of value, someone God created with a purpose. We were created to be relational beings and that goes beyond age, life stage, and culture. How we make our choices matters because we can be a part of God’s work to build people up.
Father God, what a privilege it is to be able to be a part of Your Church family. I pray that You would open the eyes of our hearts to see how we can extend compassion unto others just as You have unto us. Teach us again and again how we can better relate to people wherever You call us to be in life. Grant us Your wisdom and discernment so that we would know how and rely on You to enable us by Your Spirit to walk in obedience to how You lead us. Help us to know how we can invest into people’s lives well and effectively, to be good stewards of the time You have granted and blessed us with. Empower us O God to be courageous and bold to reach out and relate to others when You call us to go to where You lead us. May Your peace, grace, and mercy continually be upon us to lead us, guide us, and protect us. In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen!
Photo: Judit Klein /Flickr