Currently, the young adult group at my church is going through a series on relationships. Not specifically dating or romantic, but how we approach and live out the myriads of different relationships in our lives. It’s been interesting to dive into the recesses of my own mind, and try to get to the “why” behind the different actions I take when it comes to my acquaintances.
Examining the interactions with the people around you can tell you a lot about who you are. They reveal what’s actually going on inside if you. It’s easy to put up a front or a mask in arelationship. But when things get stirred up or feelings are hurt is when the things that are trapped inside us, start to come out.
I just started learning about the Enneagram, which is a type of personality test in which they assign you a number. Each number represents a core about who you are. My number is 9, which is the peacemaker. I’m the one who needs harmony and will run from drama or any type of argument. I’m afraid of conflict and will gladly lay down my opinions to create agreement in any group or personalized setting.With each number there are different complexities that come with relating to people.
I wish I knew my number in high school. I remember I would have a group of friends and things would be going fine, until any sort of drama came about. As soon as the harmony of the group was disturbed, I would run and hide. Not wanting toenter any sort of unharmonious situation, I would get new friends.
Relationships are messy
There are plenty of times when people have let me down or do something that I wasn’t expecting that hurts our relationship.What I have learned is that when things go wrong, it’s a chance to grow closer and not necessarily farther apart.
In the book of 1 John chapter 4 verse 18 it says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
Living from fear or love?
Through this study at church I realized that a lot of my life I lived through fear. Especially in my relationships. I was scared that people would disrupt my inner harmony and that they would bring conflict into my life. And for me, running was easier than disagreement. Harmony was my highest goal, even at the cost of friendship. But when I start to realize that disagreement can bring people closer together, my view of conflict changes. In conflict there’s an opportunity for growth. Not just personal growth, but a chance for our relationship to get stronger.
Two lessons learned
First, those same relationships and people that I fear, are the ones I need. God created us for relationship. He decided that we need each other and need community. He thinks it’s worth getting to know one another and pushing through the mess to get to the gold (which is actually what we need people to do for us). He knows that sometimes our deepest fears are the things we need the most. Our greatest pain usually comes from people, but our greatest healing will come through people as well.
Second, I shouldn’t always be looking for love first. My instinct is to find acceptance and approval from those around me. To find people that will love me. This isn’t wrong, but what if I tried to love first? God has been challenging me to see each person as someone uniquely created and valued by Him. And if God values them, then I should try to love them as He does. I need to stop always trying to fulfill my own need and instead try to meet someone else’s.
My challenge to myself and the reader: Can we live from love and not from fear when it comes to our relationships?
Jason LaLone was on staff at YWAM Brisbane and is currently in America working with Truro Anglican Church located in Fairfax, Virginia. He is passionate about discipleship, taking Jesus’ command to make disciples a practical reality that he can live on a daily basis. He loves lasagna, cats and used to dislike Monday's, making him most like Garfield.
Jason LaLone’s previous articles might be viewed at: http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/Jason-LaLone.html