Relationships are complex and often hard to navigate. As Christians we are called to be in community, but sometimes it’s difficult to decipher what that looks like. We are so thankful for the wisdom of beautiful Mercy graduate Catharine, who shares some of the lessons she’s learned about relationships in a season of relocation!
I’ve been thinking a lot on relationships. Since moving to a new city, it’s been an interesting journey being isolated in a new town. The Lord has created a very rich opportunity for me to reflect, rejoice and heal from the ups and downs of previous seasons.
As I’ve engaged in this process…Here’s what I’ve discovered:
Preface: This is regarding platonic, peer friendships, not people you’re: dating, married to, mentoring or reaching out to (although some of it may apply). Also, of course, there are exceptions to most/all of these, but these are areas I have noticed new revelations of freedom, breakthrough and ‘opportunities for growth’ based on how I have related to people or been related to by people in the past.
1) There are different types, intimacy levels, and seasons for friendships. Be honest with yourself on who is which type of friend in your life, and learn how to just go with the flow.
2) Difficult circumstances test a relationship’s longevity. Is it a solid foundation or sinking sand? For me, living in a different town has forced me to dramatically sifted through my relationships and has surprised me quite a bit. Surprisingly, the ones that have remained are people I can trust fully. Remember: fall outs or short seasons don’t negate the legitimacy of a friendship
3) Your inner circle should be on the smaller side (both genders, mentors, family) and should consist of people who you can be vulnerable with, accept you, love you and most importantly, ‘call out the gold in you’….even when you’re in an broken spot. If your inner circle is huge, I’d start asking Holy Spirit if you’re being truly deep, vulnerable and how you can begin to risk again.
4) Be intentional and vulnerable with the ‘right’ people and don’t chase the ones that don’t invest back. If you only give attention to the ‘wrong’ relationships… you’re going to lose the ‘right’ ones.
5) God should be the only one to tell you who you are. Any labels from others that don’t line up, toss ‘em. And if someone from your inner circle is the one putting labels on you, you need to talk to them and pray about whether they can be trusted with your heart.
6) Balance. Don’t be all serious, it isn’t healthy. And being all fun isn’t either. It’s both, not one or the other.
7) Space and boundaries are good things. Boundaries are important. Period. I’m not saying only see each other once a month, but choosing to not do everything together is healthy and prevents burn out. Especially in the beginning of a friendship because you are still figuring each other out. Getting too close, too fast, then realizing you don’t have similar core values… just hurts everyone involved.
8) Be more honest that you think you should. If something is concerning you (whether you’re unsure of their character, feel misunderstood, etc.) and it’s causing relational distance, bring it up, as soon as possible. Keep short accounts.
9) In the same token… Don’t over confront. Exercise your muscle to be unoffendable. Forgive quickly, without even talking to them. Confrontations are taxing on both parties, so be beyond sure that your heart is right. If you’re going in angry or bitter and expect to tell them all the things they’ve done wrong… you are the one that has some things to work out with Jesus before you talk to them. Remember: they aren’t responsible for your feelings, you are.
10) We are created for deep, intimate relationships with our fellow man. God created Eve because it was not good for Adam to be alone; Jesus had 12 disciples; Jesus established us in the Church.
Relationships aren’t about what you can get, but I’m learning how to recognize the life-giving vs. the life-stealing relationships in my life. As I realize the life-giving ones, I need to seek The Lord on how I can serve, honor and encourage them. And as I discover the life-stealing ones, I need to ask The Lord what role He wants me to play in that person’s life.