Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tribe Life Tuesdays: Relationship Status

“Bring your heart and watch it inspire people around you!” – Danny Silk

Let’s talk relationships. This topic is one of favorites because it is constantly stretching me and what I think I know about it. Take a minute and think about a time when you were the most satisfied or fulfilled. Did it involve other people?

Hopefully, you said yes!

Relationships are one of the hardest and most rewarding feats you’ll endeavor on. They require every emotional component: you have the ability to feel love, fear, emptiness, and fulfillment. Healthy relationships, community, and finding your tribe are all interchangeable for me right now and they are one of life’s greatest accomplishments. I believe we were created for community. There is an innate void in each of us that can only be filled by meaningful relationships.

Research shows that relationships can improve health in a variety of ways: by helping us manage stress, improve the functioning of the immune system, and by giving meaning to people’s lives.  (Time, 2015)

It is a profound life statement when YOU step into community and choose to pursue connection with people. The experience of letting someone in and learning their story places value on them and on yourself. It’s there that vulnerability demolishes the walls of competition.

You and I can probably list all the pros and cons of relationships (why they do and don’t work, etc.), but today, let’s focus on their importance in our lives and all the positives.

Straight-a-way, let’s clarify what I’m talking about when I say, "relationship". This means, anyone you relate with in life! HA! From acquaintances to your most intimate relationships. Those you live everyday life with to those you don’t see very often. All of our relationships hold unique places in our lives and I want to expand that thought for a moment… 

ACCESS: One of my favorite books that has helped me countless times over the years is, Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk. I highly recommend it. Below is an incredible excerpt that sums up the levels of access people should have in our life through a diagram Danny Silk created to communicate the necessity of having levels of relationships in our lives: 

“This is a little diagram I created to illustrate the levels of intimacy we need to cultivate and protect with boundaries.

The innermost circle is your core. Some people like to call this the, 'God Spot' because nobody else deserves your heart's primary allegiance and worship and nobody should hold the place of influence He holds in your life.

The next level of intimacy is for your most intimate human relationship, your deepest soul tie. Only one person is going to fit into that spot. If you are married, this should be your spouse. If you are unmarried, this person could be a friend, a parent, a sibling, or even a business partner.

The further out we go in the circles of intimacy; the more people can fit in them. The next circle contains people like your kids and grandkids, followed by your closest friends. Heading out further, you have good friends, then co-workers, and then acquaintances. Keep going and you find people in the same geographic location, and finally the rest of the human race.”

And so Danny unravels this further in real life terms:

“The level of intimacy people have in my life determines how much of myself I will offer them when they pull on the relationship.

If I am chatting with someone from church for the first time and he tells me that the engine in his car blew up, I am probably going to give my sympathies and offer to pray with him for provision.

If I have interacted with the person a few times and know him a little, I will probably say, “Oh I am so sorry. Here is the number to my mechanic.

If one of my good friends comes to me with the woes of an exploding engine, I may toss him my keys and say, “Here, borrow my car until you can get your car fixed. Take your time.”

If my daughter or one of my sons comes to me and says, 'Dad, my engine just blew up.' I will pull out my checkbook to cover the repairs. And finally, if my wife, Sheri, comes to me, there is no doubt in my mind that I am talking with the person who will be picking out the color of our next car. Because she is my most intimate human relationship, I am willing to put all my time, money, energy, and resources toward helping her with her problem. After Jesus, she is my greatest priority, and has greatest access to my life.”

Building our relationships on choice is our most powerful tool. A healthy relationship can only be built between two people who continually choose one another and take full responsibility for that choice.

I recently had a “come to Jesus” moment with one of my relationships. This is one of my intimate relationships and I forgot that I chose them. Honestly, all my relationships are valuable -- and this one is, especially. Through gradual ignorance I began to grow apart from them. My friend would graciously keep me accountable and I graciously ignored the accountability. I still wanted their friendship, but in part. 

Then, not to surprisingly, the day came and unbeknownst to me our relationship had changed, drastically. What an onslaught of emotions I felt -- shattered, responsible, selfish, dismayed, and grieved. How could I have treated this friend so carelessly? I couldn't get to them quick enough to beg for their forgiveness not because I had to beg but because begging wasn't enough ... I needed them to know how much I loved them even though my actions many times did not display that. Of course over much crying there was resolve and celebration. It just reminded me that being aware of others -- of humanity -- is a necessity.  

Let’s not be afraid to trust our inner circle with fragile parts of our lives. Authentic and vulnerable living is a gift to be shared. So bring your heart and watch it inspire people around you!

See you next Tuesday.  

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