Thursday, January 26, 2012
This post is probably going to be more questions and ruminations than answers or great wisdom... but some thoughts on love and friendship have been rolling around in my head, and I thought I'd let them out for some air!
I truly believe that love is everything. Relationships are what matters. The rest is secondary. But every human relationship is an interactive dance... finding that beautiful and delicate balance between you and I, between desiring and controlling, between freedom and obligation...
Our relationships with one another can be the most sustaining, or the most damaging forces in our lives. We are designed to relate to one another. We are each of us part of a family, a community, and a society. Beyond that, we belong to the complex interweaving of life that is our world. We are not simply individuals. Our relationships are part of us - and when they are broken, part of us is broken too.
How do we dance that delicate dance, without treading on toes or forcing others in directions only we want to go? How do we sustain healthy relationships without being pushed, coerced, or shackled into heavy and unsustainable obligations?
If we simply disconnect from others - there are no complications, but no relationship either. I suspect the key is to hold onto our love for others, to our sense of their value as beloved, wonderful children of God. But to let go of ... I don't know... expectations?? Not even that quite fits. I think perhaps the word I'm groping for here is control. Face it. We can't control the decisions or behaviour of another. All we can do is decide how WE will respond. We can't change what another person says or does - but we can choose whether or not we will let it control US.
My kids are teenagers now (well, the youngest is not quite 13 - close enough) and it is more and more apparent that I can't actually make them do anything. (nor should I have to, at their age!). However I can choose what I am prepared to tolerate, and how I will respond. I gave up nagging them to clean their rooms a long time ago - it wasn't working. However I have a rule that I will not take them or allow them to go out, unless their room is in order & a few basic chores are done. Simple. They bucked at the rule for a while - but the choice is really theirs. I am not their slave, and they have a choice to make, knowing what the consequences for them are likely to be. That's life.
If we protect people from the natural consequences of their own choices, we are not allowing them to take control of their own lives. It could be something as simple as my kids keeping their rooms tidy. But the same idea of neither controlling, nor being controlled, extends to every area of life.
I think my own, personal "relationship lesson", for now, is to insist on only one thing, for both myself and those I am close to - that we all keep control of our own stuff - and let go of each other's!
Image Credit: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/06/hands-may-help/