Friday, February 11, 2011

Then God made relationships, and they are very good.

The last in the series of Father Tom's talk focuses on our human relationships. I never knew the word relationships would grow to be such a loaded concept. It connotes one of the most basic of human needs, and, yet it can also illicit memories of strife and pain. There are a variety of reasons this may be the case. In this blog, I will focus on one critical aspect. Relationships can either succeed or fail.

There are both positive and negative consequences our actions impose on relationships. We make choices in all relationships whether conscious or unconscious. While it is true that all relationships are unique, according to Father Tom we have the same two choices in everyone of them. That is we either make choices of faith and love or choices of fear and abandonment. It seems obvious what the consequences of both would be, and, yet some of us, some of the time operate as if those consequences don't exist.

All healthy relationships have an overwhelming dose of faith and love. These overwhelming doses can handle the occasional fear and abandonment. However, few relationships can recover when fear and abandonment become the main course of action. Sadly, Father Tom points out there is a point of no return when you go down this path too far and too long.

Not suprisingly, we still look for, cultivate and have hope in the next relationship. The truth is we need relationships. Without relationships Love can't grow. Some forms of relationships are: relationship with God; complementary marriage in both body and spirit; intimate friendship; service in community; and even relationship with pet.:-)

Perhaps, some may point out that putting forth faith and love is risky business, because there is no guarantee the other person will opt the same way. This is true. However, we can feel good about the way we approach relationships regardless of the outcome. We only have today, and today is always a good day to have faith and love in all our relationships. We have no control over tomorrow, and to sabotage today because of tomorrow's fear and abandonment puts us in a less than pleasant place today. Not to mention that we are creating a less than pleasant tomorrow.

The alternative guarentees us failure. In our quest to protect ourselves from pain some of us: create a self protective wall over time to prevent disappointment; try to change the nature of relationships; expect relationships to fail; or try to pretend we don't really need relationships. If you are creative enough, I am sure you can think of countless of other ways to protect yourself. Doing these things, however, is almost a guarantee that realtionships will cause pain. Our hearts are not open, and Love can't grow in a closed heart.

As fragile as our hearts are, they are more resilient than we think. If we are designed to Love, it would have to be so. The fragility is what makes us appreciate our relationships and enriches our lives in its development. Disappointment, hurt feelings and misundersatndings will happen. Still, we are faced with the the same choice. Do we have choose faith and love or do we become afraid and abandon.

In the past, I have tried to follow my heart. When that didn't work according to my own view, I would harden my heart and let ego dictate my final course of action. One example is when I unknowingly hurt a friend's feelings. I could tell she was upset but didn't know why. I asked and she told me she felt abandoned when I didn't get up from the theater and leave with her when she suddenly felt sick.

The story for me went this way. She mentioned she hated the play and asked if I wanted to leave. I agreed the play was bad, but I also had plans to meet friends after the show. She then said she felt sick and was leaving, and I decided to stay.

She later told me she was upset because if the roles had been reversed, she said she would have left with me. I apologized and acknowleged where she was coming from. She, however, needed space. After some time, she still couldn't get past it and called the friendship quits. I hung in there for a little while thinking it just meant a change in the relationship. When the silence became too long, according to my view, I called it quits too. I realize now it didn't have to fail. Too, there is always hope to resurrect the friendship. The only choice I have is over my own hands and with God that is all you need.

There are other relationships that have a more drastic change. We have less control when someone physically dies, or is so sick it seems they have a limited capacity for relationship. I would argue that even in these cases, although the relationship changes, it does not have to fail or die.

One example is my relationship with my mother. She has been gone physically since I was 16 just shy of 17. The intense grieving lasted about 5 years. However, now I realize that the grieving never completely left because I kept believing our relationship had failed and died. It's true that she is not physically here with me. However, every time I remember her or I pray for her or greet her in prayer, I can ackhowledge she still exists. My faith also tells me she will exist physically again.

I now also look forward to celebratring her life and the impact she had on me and others on key dates: like the day she graduated to the next life; mother's day; and her birthday. I wonder, too, how growing closer with God allows my mother to touch me again and makes it easier to recognize there is still a relationship there. Choosing faith and Love(God) ensures that my relationships live on and grow.

Relationships don't have to fail. We just give up so easily. When we give up so easily on relationships, we give up on Love(God). The good news is all relationships can be resurrected:-). It may not happen quickly, but thats ok, we have lots of time when you have forever. We have to remember that although we may turn our back on God (Love), God(Love) does not turn His back on us.

God seeks for us even if our hearts turn hard. The same is true in our human relationships. The other person's or our own heart may be hard. However, if we are called to be in that relationship, in Love(God), we can pray for him or her. We can reach out continually over time. Love trumps ego, and this is blissfully so.

For relationships to fill the desires of our hearts, Love has to flow back and forth and grow. This necessarily means that God(Love) is involved for He authored Love's growth through relationship. Have faith! God made relationships and they are very good.:-)


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