By Shelly Hogan
Faculty, College of Theology
From the start of the human race, it has been evident that authentic and meaningful relationships are essential. In fact, one of the first recorded words from God on the subject, “It is not good that the man should be alone,” reminds us that life is best lived with others and meaningful connections make our lives richer (Genesis 2:18). However, building and keeping significant connection isn’t always easy. Deep connection takes effort so let me offer three important relationship reminders: be available, be authentic and be attentive.
1. Be Available
They say that showing up is half the battle for most things in life and this includes relationships. To have significant associations with others we need to be accessible. The busyness of our lives can hinder significant connection and if we are not careful, things can take up all our time. There will always be work to do, chores to finish or shows to watch.
To prioritize healthy relationships the most important things in our lives should not be things, they should be people. Make the effort and take the time to foster deep friendship.
2. Be Authentic
The rising popularity of social media offers everyone the opportunity to present only what they want others to know. This phenomenon enables one to hide behind a façade of a perfect life.
The truth is life is beautiful, but not perfect. Everyone has struggles, fears, hopes and dreams. Being able to share all of who you are, including those things that both trouble and inspire you, is both freeing and fulfilling. In genuine community love and acceptance is shared and we are transformed.
Remember, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). It is important to have people in your life who are safe and sincere. Surround yourself with authentic people and don’t be afraid to be yourself.
3. Be Attentive
Meaningful relationships take work. Even the easiest of connections require thoughtful consideration. Loving others well necessitates awareness and attention. Listen to the words spoken and the emotions felt. If you hurt someone, be quick to seek forgiveness. If you are hurt, don’t hold onto the offense, run from the relationship or deny the pain.
Talk, share your feelings; affirm your commitment to each other and forgive. Most relationship problems are a result of miscommunication or a lack of attention. Let the people you care about know how much they matter. Being attentive to their needs and letting them attend to yours builds intentional connection.
God dwells in authentic community in the relationship of the Trinity and He desires nothing less of us. Prioritizing meaningful relationships deepens meaning and purpose in our lives. Living together in love and unity speaks volumes to a seeking world and blesses the heart of God and our lives too. Be available, be yourself and be attentive and meaningful connections will be yours.
“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future and accepts you just the way you are” (Unknown).
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