Wednesday, September 23, 2015

One Trick to Improve Your Relationships

Having relationships is hard. No way around that. If you're not going to live on an island by yourself, you're going to have to have relationships with people. I'm not talking about romantic relationships alone - friendships, family (parents, sibling, children), coworkers - all of the people in your life. You have a relationship with each of them and being good at relationships is something that takes work, skill and a lot of patience.

I don't think I've ever met anyone who did not have at least one relationship in their life that caused them grief...or what we all like to call "drama." There's at least one person in each of our lives that is a test for us. And for most of us there's not just one of those "drama" relationships. Every relationship requires work - some more than others. 

There is something I have learned that has greatly improved not just the more challenging relationships in my life, but even the ones I would classify as "easy" and "low maintenance." That something is really simple, almost too simple. 


Yep, pray. It is our nature to react to things that hurt us or offend us or just plain irritate us. In our reactive state, we don't give much thought to what we say or how we say it. We don't give it time to sink in. In our reactive state, we call at least 3 other people (that's not a statistic, just a random number I decided to use for the sake of making my point) to "vent" our annoyance and frustration and possibly anger and almost always, offense. If we picked our people carefully, they all agree with us and fuel our negative feelings. You get where this is going. 

I've been working for years on responding, rather than reacting. It's difficult because it's our nature just to "pop off" with whatever emotion we've got going on when the situation occurs. But that's where we mess things up in relationships. Reacting is never good when it is charged with negative emotion. In my walk with God, I've become a "pray-er" and so naturally, this seemed like something I would do in my relationships. And I wondered, what would happen if instead of getting all worked up, I stopped and prayed and handed it over to God? It was worth a try.

What has praying done for my relationships? It has reduced the drama almost completely. Praying takes the need to control the other person out of the equation. It gives the relationship and the situation perspective, a godly perspective. God always calls us to forgive wrong doings, so prayer will always lead you to forgive. Prayer also may lead to conviction and allow you to see where you have played a part in the situation. Sometimes praying about a relationship issue has led me to doing...nothing. Instead of needing to be right or needing to confront the other person, I realize that what I'm supposed to do is simply let it go. 

But sometimes prayer leads to letting a relationship go altogether. Sometimes we are in relationships with people who are toxic in our lives. Prayer has shown me that some relationships need to end. And that's not always an easy answer to hear, especially if it's someone who has been in your life for a long time. It might not feel good but if it is truly what is meant for your life, you will feel a sense of peace about letting go of someone who is not meant to continue on your journey with you.

Prayer makes me happier in all of my relationships. Handing a relationship problem over to God is one less thing I have to worry about and try to control. When I give my relationship issues over to God in prayer He can work in me and in the other person. 

Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and then thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Jesus Christ. 
Philippians 4:6-7

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