It is always good to hear people say, “I can’t believe we are done talking about Life Together. It went by so fast.” And then, when a number of people continue to say, “I wish you would have talked about ________.”
How would you finish the sentence?
What do you wish we would have talked about, but didn’t?
Well, here are six Life Together themes I would have liked to cover. I don’t have them listed in order of importance.
People hurt us, we hurt them. How do we find peace about these relationships? What does forgiveness look like? How do we keep on forgiving if the hurt continues? How do we let go of a relationship if it is simply too painful and producing too much damage? How and when do we try to restore broken relationships?
Some people are simply bad for us. They refuse to love us and they are willing to harm us. And yet, we cannot just leave the relationships. Instead, we must learn how to draw boundaries that limit both the contact time and the harm they do. This is always going to include speaking the truth in love
THREE: Conflict Resolution
Some people like to call this waging peace in relationships. I like that. Conflict is inevitable. How do you respond to conflict. Do you fight? Do you flee (fight or flight)? Or do you freeze? And how do you productively engage in conflict that is resolved in such a way that your relationship becomes even better?
FOUR: Crucial Conversations
I think on this one I would probably walk you through a series of best practices of great communication. All great relationships require great communication. One of the core best practices for this would be active listening.
FIVE: Common Ground
There are three things that most relationships need in order to flourish:
1. You need a shared vision of what the relationship is about and where it is headed.
2. You need common values. These are the shared beliefs about the things that matter most.
3. You need mutual interests. The more mutual you are, the merrier the relationship will be. The most important relationship where this common ground is vital is the marriage relationship, but the best friendships and best partnerships will have this common ground as well.
SIX: Sacred Relationship
This phrase is a direct rip-off from Gary Thomas, the author of Sacred Marriage and Sacred Parenting. Thomas has the profound (and absolutely right) insight that God has a deeper design for our relationships than we have. God’s design is that every relationship we have be a relationship where our character is formed, virtue grows, emotions become healthy, the heart becomes holy, and we become more like Christ. Every relationship you have is the locus and focus of God’s purposes growing in your life.
Which of my six additional Life Together themes are most interesting to you? Did you have any others you want to add?
I am sure we will return to this Life Together theme many times in the years ahead.
For now, I will leave you with this encouraging word from the Apostle Paul. You can apply this to any relationship:
I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
Christ will continue to help you build the relationships you want. Press on in this long obedience.