The truth is, relationships are not easy. Whether it’s a relationship with your parents, your kids, your friends, your spouse, or your boyfriend/girlfriend, you have to be willing to work at the relationship if you want to it grow.
Seems pretty straightforward, right?
That is, until you feel as though the other person is not actually working at the relationship as hard as you are. OR until you stop doing your part in the relationship.
I once watched a video by Jefferson Bethke about the one big thing that will ruin a relationship. He said a few small things, but the one main thing was “complacency”. Without even finishing the video, I copied the link of the video and messaged it to my boyfriend – not because I thought that he was being complacent, or because I thought our relationship was complacent, but because I thought that what Jefferson had to say was very true. And I believe that this is true for every relationship. The moment we become complacent, the moment we start thinking that we don’t need to do anything to “fix” the relationship, or show them that we love them because we think they already know – that’s the moment things will begin to fall apart in a relationship.
It is so easy for us to just get into the routine of things and be too busy to show the people we truly love that we love them. Now I am not saying that you need to show them you love them by buying them something every day, or by doing ridiculous things to get their attention. I am saying that sometimes even the smallest things are meaningful – like a little note saying how wonderful someone is and why, a word of affirmation (as mentioned in Jefferson’s video), even just saying “you’re doing a great job”, or spending just a few moments of stolen peace together. These are the little things that count – the things that show the people we love that we love them.
I remember a time when I was about 10 or 12 and my Mom was upset about something. I remember asking my dad why she was feeling that way, and he simply answered, “Mom does a lot for this family and she feels unappreciated”. I felt horrible. All this time, I had just expected a meal on the table or my clothes to be washed because that is the way things had always been. While I still helped her out at times, I had become complacent in my relationship with her. I had expected things from her and had taken her service to me for granted without even realizing it. Literally, all she needed was to know that she was appreciated. Like I said, it’s the little things that count. Ever since that day, I have tried my best to thank her (and others who help me) for everything because she most certainly does not go unappreciated.
I realize that I was only 10 or 12 at that time, but I still see that complacent side of me resurfacing in other relationships from time to time. Routine and schedules are very important to me, but I find that the moment I make my life’s focus on following those routines and schedules to the dot, is the moment I expect things to happen or take things for granted. I mean, having high expectations for some things is a good thing – but not when the expectations for someone are unfair.
And of course, relationships are a two-way street, meaning that sometimes the other person can be complacent when you are not. As someone becomes complacent and satisfied with the way things are going, they stop putting effort into it. As you can imagine, or maybe have even felt, this can really hurt a person and even make them feel rejected.
I am sure that everyone has felt rejected by someone they love because they feel as though they put more effort in the relationship than the other person. But although the rejection hurts, it is the feeling of rejection that pushes me to accept others and reach out to them. I remember what that feeling is like and how much it hurt, and I seriously do not want anyone else to feel that way, so I befriend them. Even if I am shy and afraid, I need to reach out to them and show them God’s love. Sometimes I utterly fail at this, while other times, I make really great friends. It is a risk I am willing to take in order to build healthy relationships with other people.
There was a time in my life when I had felt used and taken for granted by many people in my life, and would not have taken that risk at all. I thought the world would be a better place if I just didn’t build relationships at all, if I stayed to myself and didn’t try because clearly no one wanted me around. But I remembered how Jesus was rejected multiple times by the people he loved. He knew how I felt. And He used his rejection to glorify God. And so could I.
The truth is, I needed people in my life and I always will. I just needed the right kind of people in my life, and how would I have known how to find the right people if I didn’t build any more relationships? After all, this feeling of rejection is also what keeps me wiser in choosing who to build my close relationships with. I have seen so many people fall into the pit of despair because they choose not to trust anyone since they fear hurt and rejection. But not trusting anyone means never learning to love again, and love is the greatest of all things (1 Corinthians 13:13)
The truth about relationships is that they’re not easy, and they never will be. You have to constantly keep investing in the ones you love, constantly showing them God’s love and how much you truly love them. Most importantly, the truth about relationships is that God needs to be the centre of all of them. Without Him there, it would be very difficult to show His love. Without Him there, things will become complacent and there will be no growth. Look to Him for relationships – sometimes it will be only His strength you can lean on in order to continue one.
I am attaching the link to Jefferson’s video on relationships, I hope you enjoyed reading this and found it helpful in your walk with Christ.