Here is Sunday morning's column. I'm speaking about relationships.
Relational dysfunction is part of life. It started with Adam and Eve. They decided to eat some of the forbidden fruit. God asked them what was going on. Adam threw Eve under the bus and blamed her. Paradise was lost. And things got worse fast. Adam and Eve had two kids: Cain and Abel. Cain got jealous of Abel and killed him. After Noah saved the world, he got drunk, and passed out. Ham saw this and was quite amused. He told his brothers. Noah found out and cursed Ham’s son Canaan. I’m only in the ninth chapter of Genesis and we have already witnessed greed, blame, jealously, murder, drunkenness, gossip, and unforgiveness.
Amber and I have two boys. Life is good when the two boys are getting along. I love watching them laugh and play together. I also have to be honest: 8 year olds and 2 year olds raised by marriage and family therapists and pastors probably aren’t too much different than 8 year olds and 2 year olds raised by anybody else: sometimes the boys don’t get along. I’m generally not too pleased with fighting and crying. And so it goes with God and His children. God’s dream is that His kids get along. His heart breaks when His kids don’t get along.
God doesn’t just have dreams for us. He fills us with the Holy Spirit and equips and empowers us to thrive in our relational lives. He also gave us Jesus. Jesus related to the stranger with hope, his enemies with grace, his friends with loyalty, outcasts with compassion, women with dignity, and all with love.
Everyone who reads this is going to be in a little different position in their relational life. Some are blessed with life-giving relationships. Others have been seriously hurt by another and are struggling to move on. Many of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle: some of our relationships are good and some are not-so-good. The blessed can maintain and model. The broken can mend and somehow move on. The masses can embrace the healthy and seek to improve the not-so-healthy.
God gives us grace and allows us to give it to others: forgiveness from the past, power in the present, and hope for the future. Sometimes forgiveness means a restored relationship. Sometimes forgiveness is the realization that it is better to live in peace apart than it is to live in constant conflict together. Forgiveness is something we give to others, but the person who benefits is the one who gives it. It is the way God works.
Ultimately we can’t control other people, but we can control the way we react to others. Knowing that one thing and knowing God who wants paradise restored for his children will help us as we live out God’s dream of living in healthy relationships with others.