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Struggling in relationship?

Truth: We were created by love and through love to be loved and to give love.

Relationship is God’s greatest hope for us. Love is the force that saved the world from sin. God uses love as an experience that exposes us, transforms us, and mends us. God believes in relationship. And yet, with the best intentions in tow, relationships with the people we love the most are the hardest, aren’t they?

They are the ultimate paradox. Dan Allender states this perfectly, “There is no one I have loved more than my wife, and yet, there’s no one that I’ve hated more than my wife”. If you think about it, relationship struggles have actually been the norm for humanity, starting in the Garden of Eden.

So if relationships were meant to be so great, why are they such a struggle?

When we are in love, we become our most vulnerable. Our defenses fall in the presence of the initial care of the other person. To know and to be known by another is what life is all about! We begin to show them a side of ourselves that we might not feel comfortable showing most people. Love tells our shame that the hiding isn’t necessary anymore. When this begins to happen, we can feel like the other person is gaining power over us… There’s no guarantee that the most vulnerable places of our hearts won’t be harmed once they are exposed. Sometimes our knee jerk response is to try to get power back ASAP, whether that’s by sarcasm or callousness.

Instead, if we accept the vulnerable state that we are in and trust that vulnerability is not weakness, maybe the struggle wouldn’t be as real. When we choose trust, we see and experience the glory of relationships with another. We are reminded of the character of God.

Relationships expose the glorious parts in us as well as the ugly parts in us. But when love is added to the mix, real change can happen. All of a sudden, the capacity to hold someone’s “ugliness” is expanded. There is now space to sit with another’s emotional/spiritual stench, instead of reacting out of fear. God did not design relationships to be hard just to make our lives hell—like a kid terrorizing ants with a magnifying glass. Relationships are gifts so God’s glory could be revealed and our good uncovered—to know what it is to desire another’s heart. To know what it is to desire to be known. To know what it is to feel needy, so that we can turn to him. Contend with him.

Yes, the struggle is real when it comes to relationships. It sorta seems like that’s how they’ve always been, and that’s how they’ll always be. However, the hope that we hold on to tells us that authentic relationship will bring us closer to ourselves, to someone else, and to God.

For reflection:

In which relationships to I feel most like myself?

Where am I resisting God nudging me toward relationship?

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