I often struggle with viewing my relationship with God as completely separate from my relationships with others and something that I have to have “right” before having a true relationship with others. God has been showing me differently. One way my relationship with God is manifested is through my relationship with others.
Sometimes I look at relationships as “work”. Mostly that happens when I’m trying to keep a mask on or a wall up around this person. That can feel like work and can lead to frustration, anger, disappointment, etc. When I have a mask on or a wall up that person cannot love me or get to know me. I cannot love them or get to know them. Usually that mask is put on because I don’t want them to see how stupid I am or how messed up I am! The wall of defensiveness comes up when that person is messing up my plans for the moment and also when I feel they are trying to control me. Our shame speaks lies to us and unfortunately I quickly latch onto those lies and live like they are true. The only result possible here is no relationship and a headache!
Entering into the same scenario with humility (trusting God and others with my true self) looks very different. What if I approach relationships accepting what is already true about me because of God’s grace? What if I didn’t let my shame tell me that I have to look like I have it all together and that I know the answer to all their questions? Experiencing a relationship without those attachments frees me to not be so focused on myself and their response to me and opens the door for authentic communication and love.
Recently I had an opportunity to talk with someone about something personal in their life. I had gathered some information that made me think they had experienced a personal tragedy at some point. I thought about talking with her and lovingly getting to know more about her and her story. At first I thought, “I don’t have time for this really. I don’t really know her so what if she gets all emotional and I’m stuck for two hours? I would be uncomfortable with that. Or what if she ask me for advice and I won’t know what to say? I’ll just look stupid. What if she asks questions about me and my story? What will I say? What if she gets mad? I’ll feel bad for bringing it up.” These are all fears that pop up because of lies I have chosen to believe about myself at times due to my shame. Instead I chose to live out of what is true about me. I chose to accept the fact that I am loved no matter what and start the conversation. We ended up having some similarities in our story and we openly talked about those things. She got to know more about me and I got to know more about her. It was a time of listening to her story and her listening to mine. That’s all. But through that simple conversation we were able to see our true selves and how our story has impacted us.
So what does this have to do with my relationship to God? 1 John 1 verses 5-7 tell us that God is the light and if we walk in the light and truth we also experience life with one another (my paraphrase). Trusting that what God has done in me is true allows me to experience those truths and freedom with others. That is fellowship with God through others.
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