Relationships are a part of all of our lives. Some of them may be healthy, while others aren’t. At times, we may feel closer to people that we’re not related to, and feel distant from those in our own families.
Within these relationships, we get to witness the good in the lives of people we love, but we also have to navigate the difficult—like hurt, betrayal, and frustration (to name a few). And the normal way many people respond when these things happen is to withhold forgiveness, seek revenge, and show no mercy.
When someone does something that hurts or offends us, we often take it as a personal attack. We assume they meant to hurt us, and at times, people do. But, for the most part, we’re just imperfect people who are just being...imperfect.
In addition to how people treat us, we need to examine how we handle relationships on our end. Do we build people up with our words, or do we tear them down? Are we kinder to people who can do something for us in return, or do we treat everyone with honor and respect? Do we typically give ourselves sexually to everyone we date, or are we saving ourselves for our future spouse?
The Apostle Paul shares very specific instructions in Romans 12:9-18 about how we should operate in our relationships. He says we’re called to love each other as brothers and sisters, honor one another beyond what we’d give ourselves, share with others who are in need, and possibly the hardest part...not repay with evil when someone wounds us.
When it comes to our relationships, let’s look at the contrasting ideas we find in what’s accepted as normal and what could be better than normal:
Normal abandons friendships when mistakes are made, but better than normal forgives.
Normal allows insignificant issues to create frustration, but better than normal is patient.
Normal gives in to temptation, but better than normal chooses purity.
Normal argues when there are differences, but better than normal builds bridges.
Normal looks out for self, but better than normal thinks of others.
Normal makes jokes at others’ expense, but better than normal speaks with respect.
Whether our relationships are struggling or not, we know that normal isn’t always a healthy place to be, but it’s more comfortable to us than the unknown. So, let’s choose to be better than normal in how we love and live with the people around us.
Do you have relationships in your life that are unhealthy? Think through the people in your life and how you interact with them. Decide what is healthy and what needs to change to ensure your relationships are honoring to God.