I wrote part of this post last November, but I’m going to finish it today in June 2016. 2015 was a year of minimal writing, if any. I feel like I’m finally coming out of that again and being restored and taken into a place where I have the energy and means to write once more on a consistent basis.

Last year was like one struggle after another. I would take time to overcome one thing, only to be smacked in the head by the next wave of pain. It was an emotional roller coaster that bled into the early parts of 2016. I don’t think I had ever felt quite that beat up by “life” before.

I had been so tired and overwhelmed back then that I wasn’t even able to pull myself to express things outwardly. So I did a lot of withdrawing and isolating within myself. Even the little that I did, the tone of my writings tended to lean more on the gloomy side.

I was really smarting last fall and winter due to the way people I’d opened up to and trusted chose to treat my heart. If there’s one thing I can’t handle, it’s neglect, disregard, and hidden feelings. I find these far more painful than rejection. I want things exposed and out in the open. It’s so much easier to deal with them in relationships that way.

I spent a lot of time grieving about “relationship” over that past year, and thought a lot of how greatly we’ve diminished it in society, the body of Christ, and as a whole. I am as guilty of this as any. But I can’t seem to stop dwelling on the active living relationships, how we relate with one another in this day and age and society.

There had been multiple breaks in relationship for various reasons that past year, and it was painful. It was painful because I couldn’t air things out for a while, because stirring it up meant potentially hurting other relationships in the process. Or the other party could not handle it being out in the open.

Relationship…

It’s what we were created for… and yet, it’s one of the hardest things for each of us to develop and maintain.

Relationship describes or defines how two or more people are connected to one another. Within relationships there can be distance and intimacy. However, we are built for and drawn toward intimacy.  What else was the Cross for but to rebuild that intimacy in relationship with God?

We crave acceptance and understanding. “Love” is also probably the highest on the list in our human desire/need bank, and we seek it out. We often search for it in all the wrong ways too, sometimes leaving us confused, broken, and hurting when what we thought was love was only a cheap imitation or worse. But it still doesn’t stop our drive, it may hinder it for a while and we isolate, but regardless of what phase we enter on the search – we still want closeness and safety, we still desire relationship.

Yet on this journey for love, closeness, safety, acceptance, and intimacy… there are always risks to discovering where that all resides. And in the process, there is awkwardness, uncertainty, miscommunication, different expectations, and vulnerability, just to name a few. It’s only for the courageous, and those who don’t want to play games with others’ emotions… but who will truly battle through to find what is real. Those who are willing to break off the masks and facade, risk the awkwardness, break through the uncertainty, communicate until there is clarity and understanding, destroy your expectations over someone without giving up your standards, and remaining open enough to learn trust even if you’ve been hurt.

Then you’ll come to find where true love resides… in Christ alone. Then after you’ve discovered Him, you want to be more like Him, and have relationship with those around you like He would.

A friend of mine once said to my sister “marriage is sanctifying.” That phrase stuck with me so deeply and I still cannot get it out of my head. But I’ve changed a word in it to include all of us because what is marriage anyway but a chosen commitment to forge a unique, exclusive, and deeper relationship?

Relationships are sanctifying…

I mentioned this verse in my previous writing, but I actually had included it in this writing back in November.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11

How can we be one in spirit and one in mind? We are all unique individuals created by God, yet we’re supposed to be in relationship with one another…

Conflicts always arise in relationship because we are separate from each other, but I think this verse is talking about a journey toward oneness in spirit and mind, by humbling ourselves and valuing another above ourselves just as Jesus did/does.

We learn to love and conduct relationship each and every day. It always looks different, and it’s all helping sanctify us by the grace of God.

I recently brought up an uncomfortable subject to a friend of mine. It took us a few hours to work through and communicate about it fully, but he was willing to go to that place with me. I broke through the uncertainty of whether I should bring the conflict out into the open, he responded by willingly risking the awkwardness of the topic. Then we each communicated until there was clarity and understanding on both sides. Humbly we listened to the other and began to understand the expectations we had over the situation and relationship as a whole. We each expressed ourselves vulnerably and grew in grace. By the end of the conversation, the closeness of our relationship, trust, and safety in the other person had been restored.

While I’m not exactly sure what Paul meant by being one in spirit and one in mind. I feel like my experience with my friend the other night was very close to it. Two separate people coming together to a mutual understanding and acceptance of their relationship and who each individual is with sensitivity to the Spirit of God moving in each of our hearts. We displayed our relationship and responded in openness.