I recently read through Relationships: A Mess Worth Making by Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp for our book club. Reading this book came at a time when God was dealing with me in a very real way about relationships. I realized that I had a few sin issues, and possibly idols when it came to relationships. I had developed both a fear of being alone, and a dependency on being with or around people. Ultimately, it was the Holy Spirit working in my heart that brought repentance, peace, and healing to me in when it came to these things. I have to say that this book did have some really good points along the way.
“If I am seeking to get identity from you, I will watch you too closely, listen to you too intently, and need you too fundamentally.”
The reality is that we were meant to be in relationship. First, with our Heavenly Father and then with each other. We are meant to live life together, but our sin gets in the way. We bring baggage, and unrealistic exceptions into any relationship. We also try to fill the emptiness in us that only Christ can fill by seeking this fulfillment from people. I saw this first hand as I dealt with my identity and my relationship with Christ. I placed too much emphasis on how I viewed myself, and how others viewed me. I had to turn from myself to Christ, and place my identity solely in Him.
“What do you think God typically uses to regain our affection? Ironically, He uses other people! That is one of the blessing of conflict.”
The reality is that after The Fall relationships are difficult, and take work. We are selfish & prideful at times which produces conflict in ourselves and with others. God uses other people to turn us back to Him. Our relationships expose sin that we may not have seen on our own. We can then repent, and we can turn to Jesus. When this happens I not only have a deeper relationship with God but He has used those times to help sanctify me. It is God working in me for the glory of Christ Jesus to be part of His redemptive plan.
“Your relationships will take you beyond the boundaries of your normal strength”
In Christ, we see the model of love for all of humanity. It takes sacrificial love to make relationships work, and the fact is that we do not possess this capability on our own. We are to display fruits of the Spirit “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” in the midst of conflict and difficulty in relationships. We can see how easily we can fail in these areas. The hope is in Christ! That we can give up on ourselves, and turn to Him in humble dependency. This is a good place to be.
“Gratitude for God’s loving pursuit will always lead us to pursue others – even when they don;t want to be pursued.”
I feel like this sums up the entire book. When I look at how God pursed us and entered our “messy world” we, out of thankfulness, will be willing to enter someone else’s. I can easily have an attitude that says I won’t pursue someone that doesn’t care to be a part of my life. But that is not what Jesus did and it is not what we are called to do either. I could not imagine living in isolation to avoid the difficulties that relationships bring. I know that we were created for relationship, and in doing so God has made provision for us, through Christ, to have relationship with God the Father and with each other. We have the power to love our heavenly Father, and others in ways that we could never do so on our own. And that gives me hope and encouragement over fear regardless of how messy it gets.