Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions. (Airing daily on Hope 103.2 and Inspire Digital at 9am)
The mother’s heart was breaking. She didn’t know what to do. Her teenage daughter was in all sort of troubles, and was arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol. The matter went to court and mum spent time sitting with her daughter, but they didn’t speak.
When they were able to speak through the anguish of the ordeal, the mother handed her a small wrapped gift. The daughter was in no mood for such pleasantries—but she opened it. The gift was a small rock. What’s this for? Her mother replied, Just read the card. And these were the words: This rock is more than a million years old. That’s how long it will take before I give up on you. The rebellious teenager started to cry, overcome by the extent of her mother’s love.
A simple illustration—but it carries a deep meaning, I believe. A mother usually doesn’t give up on her kids. I think it’s true that everyone wants to make a connection—to have meaningful relationships with others. It’s built into our DNA somehow but when you try to build those relationships, things start to get complicated.
Like the two kids who were having conflict at home and prayed their prayers to God:
- Dear God, maybe Cain and Abel would not have killed each other so much if they had their own rooms. That’s what my mum did for me and my brother.
- (And the other prayed) Dear God, I bet it is very hard for You to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only four people in our family and I’m having a hard time loving all of them.
At least he (or she) was honest about the problem.
Sometimes in the mix of relationships, when we don’t know what to do, when we aren’t paying attention, we stumble. We make mistakes. We get into or stay in damaging relationships. We lash out in anger. We’re not all that we could be, should be, every moment of every day of our life.
We betray our friends or lie to them—we have all done it, if it’s any comfort. Regardless of what type of background you come from, we have all made mistakes when it comes to relationships. When people feel loved, they act different. They relate differently, they just are different. When a child feels loved, they feel like they belong. They feel a sense of being in the right place.
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We Were Made for Relationship
God’s Word the Bible explains it like this: The problem is that we were made for each other. We were made to live an ‘each-other life’. To love each other, help and encourage each other, and serve each other.
That’s why, in the beginning, when Adam was living an isolated life, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). When Adam and Eve were covering up from each other and hiding from God, God called out, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). It wasn’t because God didn’t know where they were; God knows everything. His question was really an invitation. He was calling them out of hiding and into a relationship with him and with each other.
We were made for an ‘each-other life’, even though we are tempted to give up on particular individuals who have made life difficult for us. How can I trust them again when they broke a confidence? But here’s what Jesus says about relating to others:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37-39).
The two most important things in life are: love God and love people. If that’s true, then it is absolutely essential that we learn how we can build strong and healthy relationships with one another. Even if it’s hard and seems impossible. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride.
But Relationships Are Not Easy
Relationships are not always easy. They are altered and changed from what God originally designed because we are all flawed and succumb to sin. Because of this, we are destined to be hurt by those we are in relationships with us, even those we deeply love and care for. As a result, we give up on each other and walk away in an attempt to protect ourselves from being hurt again.
But the Bible says, ”Be devoted to each other like a loving family” (Romans 12:10). Sometimes it’s as simple as listening to others tell you their story. Many of us are not good listeners. Chuck Swindoll wrote in a great book Avoiding Stress Fractures:
I vividly remember some time back being caught in the undertow of too many commitments and too few days. It wasn’t long before I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day. Before long, things around our home started reflecting the pattern of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.
I distinctly recall after supper one evening the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me about something important that had happened to her at school that day. She hurriedly began, Daddy-I-wanna-tell-you-something-and-I’ll-tell-you-really-fast. Suddenly, realizing her frustration, I answered, Honey, you can tell me…and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Just say it slowly. I’ll never forget her answer. She said, Then listen slowly, Daddy.