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Eric's Sunday Sermon; Relationships

Updated on September 6, 2015

Happy relationships take effort.

Love and family is a great start.
Love and family is a great start. | Source

Do relationships baffle you?

Let us get right to the point and then move on from there. We focus quite well on others. That is important. And most of us focus quite well on our selves and that is important. But do we focus on that thing that goes on between us?

“I love you”. Two objects and a feeling or emotion depending on your state of mind. Me and you and love in between. It seems simple enough. “I hate you”. Again simple enough. In fact both are instances where perhaps the most important aspect here is just left out and assumed. Let me put it this way and it begins to help us pause and consider. If I say “I love you” and I am just putting it out there to the entire audience it sparks a derision. That problem is most easily understood by the fellow who responds; “you don’t know me so do not say that you love me”. In brevity and common sense our fellow is hitting on one of the most important concepts that we must grasp in our love with ourselves, each other and with God.

Let us examine our most important role in our most important aspect of life – relationships. They can be mundane or catastrophic or glorious and uplifting. We must distinguish between other people and our relationships. Believe it or not it is not about them. And while it has to do with us, it may be better to think of relationships as an independent force of nature. Kind of like a thing or a process that has it’s own life. So that we kind of build to a crescendo here let us take them in parts. First let us look at our relationship with ourselves, then with others and then with God. If you are struggling with a notion of God, that is cool just borrow from the twelve steppers and use a concept of higher power. Our use of the word God is for discussion, as this author still has not found a suitable linguistic mechanism to define God.

Maybe relationships are a constant lifting up of each other.

Just a place I seem to have a relationship to.

Familiarity is really not the same as a relationship.
Familiarity is really not the same as a relationship. | Source

A real relationship with ourselves

Let me open the notion of knowing ourselves with empathy. Some of us have a gift/curse of being hyper empathic. It just is this sense of feeling what others feel. I have been in a state where my empathy is on full alert and have walked into a store and had to walk right back out again because the angst in that place was so heavy it made me feel that way. I know that is kind of stupid. I have to get a grip. And I do and shake my head and get over it and act normal. I mention this for a reason. Many people stuff their feelings. They simply as a habit ignore their feelings because they do not like them.

Many people do this every day. Now when you reach 40 or more you have been doing this for a long time and it will become, just the way it is. Let us put it this way; you still have the feelings you just do not know them anymore. They are still there. Try this one: “I am really tired and I need a little nap”. Do you instead trudge on and maybe have a cup of coffee? How about this one? “I don’t have time for this now, I will talk with you later”. Hmm? Seems we have time for other things. It may make you defensive about the concept but we all do it. Sometimes we do not want to know ourselves and that is understandable. But spend a lifetime of busy days just too busy and you end up looking in the mirror and asking “who is that really?”.

We quite literally put off knowing and having a relationship with ourselves until a more convenient time. I pray that for many there is some notion of a Sabbath in your life and that it is not filled so much with others that you forget to spend that quality time with yourself. Not you, of course not you, but I hope you do not take away me time for time getting all gussied up and ready to go meet others in a place where you do not listen to yourself but others. Please do not change on my account. But give this some thought.

May I call you friend?

Just some country I love to hike.

What beauty in nature.
What beauty in nature. | Source

Worth the effort? Relationships with others.

Let me start this off with something that is going to upset a whole lot of readers. Let go and get angry if you must. The scenario is like this: Stoic Joe has just lost a good friend to cancer. Joe’s friend Sally starts off with “I know how you are feeling”. That pisses Joe off to no end. The responses are all negative and nasty. “How the hell do you know how I feel?” “Who the hell are you to tell me how I feel?” “screw you, no you don’t”. If you have never seen such a scenario or been a part of one then perhaps you can just imagine it. Our society sides with Joe. It is just a plain violation of Joe to know his feelings. Here is the problem with that. Joe has spent a lifetime ignoring and stuffing his feelings. Actually knowing them and feeling them fully is just completely foreign to him. Sally has spent a lifetime wearing her feelings on her sleeve, delving into them and coming to understand them and even welcome them. Sally has a relationship with feelings that Joe does not. Sorry to tell you this Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public but Joe does not know his feelings and Sally does. In fact we should be asking “who the hell is Joe to think he understands his feelings when he has been avoiding them his whole life?”.

So our relationship with others is sometimes like Sally’s and sometimes like Joe’s. The actual subject that you have a relationship with is almost irrelevant. That mechanism and process of establishing a relationship is independent of just who it is between. They say “the art of the deal”, well there is also the art of the relationship. I ain’t got it. I stand convicted and guilty of this offense. (too proud to confess it, they had to take me to trial ;-) Somehow I got my wires all crossed up. I view relationships as a natural chemistry between two folks. That is just the start or not even that.

One time I saw a bridge. It stood alone. The land on either side had been washed away by time. But that bridge still stood. The bridge was built so that it stood independent of the two bodies it connected at one time. While in use it had to be built by someone and maintained by someone to be of use. It was actually kind of a beautiful monument in memory of that which was no longer. Perhaps we should spend time building relationships like that. Let us pause for a moment and give thanks to those wonderful people in our lives that maintained those bridges to us when for whatever reason we failed to do so.

How about you?

Are you a good bridge builder?

See results

Relationship with God

Is our relationship with God a stairway into the great above? Or is our relationship a two way bridge between us? This may seem counterintuitive but placing God above us does not place God with us. I just love to idolize my earthly father. He was a great man. He was so brilliant and accomplished it is hard to imagine. Yet he was a doctor of such compassion it oozed from him. And it just riled him up when I acted toward him like that. In his later life we worked on some projects together. He would say to me “we can’t really work together if you keep putting me way above you”. There was just no darn way I could bring him down to my level so I had to be raised up to his.

Maybe that is what all this talk is about when we say “you lift me up”. Maybe God wants us to step up to have a relationship with God. Maybe we should work on our relationship with God like we do with others and ourselves. Maybe we should be less anxious about raising God up and away from us. Perhaps we should stop making God speak to us through others so we can hear. An open two way line of communication in a language we both can understand, kind of like a relationship. Well I reckon I have to reconcile that with my notions of praise and worship and bowing down and stuff. Maybe it is just one of those Holy mysteries I am not supposed to understand. How about that, a best friend and my God?

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    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Lawrence,

      The awareness of an issue with regard to our ability to feel and relate creates in most a desire to overcome it. And we actually do overcome it. For me, I need a swift kick in the face to become aware of the foot. A drastic situation is often required for me to actually delve into a matter and begin to understand. Your child's special need is heart wrenching. But somehow I am certain the extra attention has created a special bond that is without price.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Faith, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. My number one relationship is demanding quite a bit of my time lately. There is a season for everything. You make me think of "boundaries". Good ones really do shore up the foundation of a relationship. Thank you I am off to the thinking room.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      My wife and I thought we were good at this communicating the emotions thing, then about two years ago God threw a huge spanner in the works.

      Two years ago we found out our girl is Autistic! Not the severe kind but more of just not being able to read and understand emotions, also not being able to communicate them!

      I used to think that 'just picking up' on the emotions or 'self' was enough but not now!

      Actually honestly learning to tell people 'whats going on inside' is hard work even for those good with people!

      As for Jesus, he said he'd never leave us, he neber said anything about being above us!

      Lawrence

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Relationships do require a lot of work in understanding we all think differently. When the sweet Lord God became my best friend, then I was okay with myself and now able to allow others in. Like, Ann and Bronwen, I too find men easy to talk to and enjoy a friendship, but as God made us so different, sometimes the other can unfortunately get in the way.

      Wonderful insight, dear Eric, as always

      Peace and blessings

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hello Patricia,

      I hope this month finds you in sunny yet cooler weather. We are having something of a heat wave here which is really kind of a silly notion as we chose to live in the desert.

      That working on our relationship with ourselves is an area most of us would just as soon avoid. I am afraid we too often put it off until some emotional pain forces us to deal with it.

      Do you remember back when "long distance" phone service was just being advertised and pushed? They had some ad campaign about "staying in touch". Well myself has been calling myself lately and I just don't have the time to pick up the phone. Like those letters we avoid writing because we actually have to sit down and get our own thoughts straight in order to convey them.

      Oh well -- a work in progress as we say.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      that is so true...work on our relationship with God like we do with others and ourselves..

      and learning to recognize our own relationship with ourselves is sometimes tricky and not one many wish to take...

      I am so glad I found your sermon...I had been looking for it but guess I got here to early...lots to think about and consider here Eric....and I like that.

      Hoping you have a lovely day ...Angels are on the way to you this morning bringing blessings ps shared g+ tweeted

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      "My wife is quite content when I turn off my sending mode and leave on my receivers."

      That's the secret! Just listen and try to stay awake during the detail sections.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bronwen,

      That pesky Eros sure can be a game changer. I know what you are saying and it probably happens a million times a day. It got in the way between my construction superintendent and I as we were building out offices in Saigon. She was great at her job but I just could not get over the loving attraction. A very serious woman who did nothing to deserve my attitude.

      Oh well, over a decade of marriage and a wonderful son later when we argue we still let Eros get in the way. It is just one of those things ;-)

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Will,

      Thank you very much for that wonderful video. I seem to have let a few things fall into my nothing box -- or should I say my wife put them there. Time for fall cleaning ;-)

      In communications we have both the sending and receiving of signals. My wife is quite content when I turn off my sending mode and leave on my receivers.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I like that! Fun indeed!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ann, thank you for that follow up. Now I get what they mean - it takes two to Tango. So we get/got to build that bridge but then it is up to them to unlock the gate and let us in.

      (a while back you corrected me that your name was Ann without an e. I related it to my sister Lauri Ann, who in our youth would yell at people - "It is Lauri without an e and Ann without an e - NO e's". And there I stood, with my only nickname that ever stuck "E". Fun stuff, thanks.)

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I think Bronwen is right about men. I generally enjoy their company better than women as I think they are more tolerant and easy-going. But, yes, Eros can interfere!

      Ann

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dana,

      I just love your point. What a challenge it is to love another so much that we accept their shortcomings and just plain love them until they can learn to love themselves. It reminds me that obstacles we face in loving each other are there to help both parties grow. While my wife is not the touchy feely loving type, year after year she stands by me, letting me know I am worth it.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi Denise,

      If I may, perhaps being comfortable should include being uncomfortable. That dang thing called growth seems to require it. From the outside looking in, you certainly exude comfort with yourself. If there is an even better you coming forth I look forward with anticipation.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      As a female, I enjoy the way that men think, and enjoy their company, too. It can be so good to have deep discussions together. The problem is that, as C.S. Lewis writes, Eros can get in the way and wreck what could be a great relationship. I wonder if others have had this happen, too?

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I'm like BillyBuc...I was always good at getting along with the other guys, but women were a mystery until I finally understood that we are so different in the way we think. Once I accepted that we do not even think alike, I was OK. Here's a great video on that topic:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ9L9YBJkk8

      Great Hub Eric!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I think you were right to use 'bridge'; there has to be bridge to span the gap, whether the gate is locked or open. I really enjoy these discussions because they make me delve more deeply into the inner me!

      Ann

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      Another amazing sermon. I am so pleased to say that I think of the Lord as my best friend. Through His faithfulness I have learned to understand myself and this also helps me to understand others. My relationship with others have improved. Unfortunately I have also learned some people do not know how to be good friends. Some people do not understand themselves enough to know how- ( to treat others as they themselves would like to be treated.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      That is what I need to do, work on my relationship with myself, then maybe things will go better in my relationships with others. My counselor calls this "mindfulness." I guess that means, being comfortable with my own mind and what is happening in the moment! Then perhaps, I won't stuff my emotions.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ann,

      Your comment is most welcome and insightful. There is that zone of "let go" where we actually let others feel what we feel. Not always in surrender, even sometimes in anger. But we somehow begin the journey of a relationship by allowing a certain vulnerability to crack our shells.

      Alas perhaps I was in error here and should have emphasized more the "gate" to let others in, than the bridge that can often lead to a locked gate.

      Thank you for gently nudging me into a deeper reflection.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I'm probably too good at building bridges, or trying to. Some say I'm too lenient in relationships with those who might be 'difficult', for want of a better word. Well, I think you summed it up in your word 'empathy'. If you have an idea of what people are feeling then you want to do something to help.

      You've also given the answer to my wondering about how you write so well, how you go straight to the heart; you have oodles of empathy. You have that uncanny ability to know what people might think and feel and, yes, it does put some people off when face to face with that, which is a shame.

      This is full of 'food for thought' and your usual gift for allowing all of us our own beliefs.

      Ann

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Venkatachari,

      Clearly the physical proximity is not an essential element of establishing and maintaining a relationship. It appears it is not the method of communicating that is essential either. The bridge can be built in many ways. Yes we do have relationships that span what seem at first to be insurmountable divides. As long as the effort is there and the intent real anything in this area is possible.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Carb Diva,

      Truly if we can find it in ourselves to love ourselves how can we possibly love another.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      I hope nowadays, I am better at relationships with myself, with others and with God also. And, I think relationships need not be physical only. They can be through communications also like here with you and all my friends here and on FB also. There are some wonderful people with whom I feel close relationship, even though I may never be able to see them. I can enjoy their feelings and experience much happiness and bliss within me.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dora, around here we are working on it. I note with envy that some people just do it naturally. I tend to like those folks, like you.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ruby,

      I think today I was to filled with bologna, good thing it was a holiday. I much prefer to keep some space open to receive what others offer and savor the taste of life. Thank you for leaving your great comment.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Relationships (real ones, not FB 'friends') take time and effort as MsDora said. But I don't think we can give love to anyone else until we get rid of the self-loathing and love ourselves. I enjoyed this hub a great deal--much to think about. Thank you for sharing.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Sure, Eric. Relationships with God and with other people require constant effort on our part, but it's worth it. Lots of communication--talking, listening, understanding. You do a very good job of driving home the point. Thank you.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill, thank you for your reflection. I keep trying but sometimes instead of growth I feel like I am wilting. It is a great journey.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I'm not good at building bridges but it's a work in progress. Forgiving and being forgiven is the first step. Your Sunday sermon is thought provoking. I went to church yesterday and the minister told a tale about a crow finding a big package of bologna and ate so much he couldn.t fly. He ended the tale by asking are you so full of bologna that you can't function? Try coming empty and being filled with thoughtful acts of goodness. It made me think Just like your writing. Peace.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm a better bridge-builder than I once was...I'll leave it at that.

      I was good at relationships with men....always...but I had to learn with women. I think, now, I can say I'm equally good with all genders. Growth my friend.