Relationships are complex. They stir up so many emotions in us. H. Jackson Brown said, “Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.” How profound. Our greatest need is built from relationships. They aren’t just important to us; they are important to our Creator as well.
In the book of Matthew, we hear the story of an “expert in the law” asking Jesus this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with your soul and with all your mind.” Then, He goes on and says the second greatest commandment is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” You see, Jesus put the utmost importance on relationships. He understood that in this life, the two things that matter most are loving God and loving people. If it’s that important to Jesus, then we need to move it up our priority list as well.
So, what should a relationship that is important to us look like? Do you ever feel like relationships are just full of competition? Will my friend choose to watch the game with me, or will he choose to watch it with someone else? Will my daughter want to go get coffee with me, or will she have other priorities? Will my son want family time or alone time? Will my wife enjoy my time, or need time with friends more? Will my boss confide in me, or in someone else? The questions go on and on. They drive us crazy sometimes. They create insecurities that we didn’t even know existed. So, how do we fix this?
My wife and I had been married a couple of years. We had a daughter who occupied most of our time when we weren’t working. When we wanted to foster other relationships outside of our marriage, it was met with resistance. If Heather wanted to hang out with one of her friends, does that mean she is choosing them over me? If I wanted to watch a game with buddies, does that mean Heather is no longer the most important person to me?
This resistance made us proceed with caution anytime we wanted to do something without the other person. Couple that with the fact that Heather wanted to get her Master’s degree (I married up). Does that mean she doesn’t think I can provide? What does this say about our relationship, and what does it say about me? Then, one day, something clicked. I’m not sure it was a ‘road to Damascus’ type of moment, but the way we felt about each other changed.
In Jeremiah 29:11 we read, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” God has created us all with a purpose, and If relationships are important to me like they are to Him, then I need to support that purpose. Heather and I started to see God work in both of us.
We started to see glimpses of the people God designed us both to be. I began to want that for Heather more than I wanted stuff for myself. I’m realizing more and more that relationships work best when you want God’s purpose for the other person as much as they do. I can’t tell you that I always get it right, but I can tell you that my marriage has benefited from one simple change. I no longer act as a road block to Heather’s journey toward God’s plans. I now act as a fan and supporter. Whether it be supporting her need for friendships that will last a lifetime or taking walks with her when she needs to decompress from a difficult day, I want to do everything I can to help her become exactly the person God designed her to be.