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Eric's Sunday Sermon; Relationships
Happy relationships take effort.
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.
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.
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?
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?