There’s one phrase from Jonathan and I’s marriage counseling that will always stick with me: “Marriage, at its very best, is hard work.” I’d like to tweak that just a bit and say, “Relationships, at their very best, are hard work.” Let’s look outside of the scope of just love and intimacy. Take a look at the relationships you have with your friends, your parents, your coworkers. What state are those relationships in? How much work are both sides putting into it?
As I sat and though about Valentine’s Day this week I thought, “Man, I need to work on my relationships.” I noticed that I had begun to grumble about never getting to see my friends, not spending enough time with my parents, not having patience with my husband, and struggling to even tolerate some of the people I interacted with on a day-to-day basis. It wasn’t until I thought back to those words from our marriage counseling sessions that I realized I knew the reason these relationships weren’t growing; I wasn’t putting work into them – let alone hard work.
The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart” (Col 3:23). We work hard at our jobs and in our home. We work hard for our kids and our families. We work hard to have the things we want. Does this not then apply to our relationships as well?
I’ve noticed something in my own life though; the more work I put into my relationship with God, the more work I’m willing to put into my relationship with others. When I’m devoted and connected to Him, it’s easier for me to prioritize my relationships and put forth the effort to meet up with friends, spend a Saturday afternoon with my mom and dad, go out of my way to do something nice for my husband, text or call my old college roommate. I put more work into it. And the reward is great.
Relationship experts, Les and Leslie Parrott, have a great illustration of what this looks like. If you drew a triangle, wrote your name in one corner, your *(insert relationship, i.e. husband, friend, co-worker)* in the other corner and “Jesus” at the top, you’ll see that what it looks like to draw closer to each other while drawing closer to God. The closer both sides of the relationship get to God, the closer they get to one another. Volia!
The flaw in this is that both people in the relationship may not be seeking Jesus. That’s where you put in the work and – you guessed it – witness! GASP! Not the “w” word! Witnessing is hard, but I guess you could say, “Being a Christian, at it’s very best, is hard work.”
Let’s work not only for our loved one, but for the one who first loved us. And from that relationship, all others will be made right.