Many of us desire to have strong and genuine relationships, which continue through the years. It’s a beautiful picture to see a couple celebrating their 50th Golden Wedding anniversary. It’s wonderful to remain in contact with classmates from 20+ years ago.
However, I’ve observed many broken relations that ended in anger. Some great friendships simply faded away because of time and distance. Other important relationships turned lukewarm.
I believe many of us desire relationships that don’t just survive, but actually thrive.
On my wedding day in 2009, I was very blessed to have many friends and loved ones witness our special day. We had 400 guests! I found it very satisfying to be among friends whom I met in various stages of my growing years…
From Kindergarten classmates (means I’ve known them for 29 years!)
to Grade School to High School friends to University friends.
And of course, my female best friend was there. Her name is Lei, my bride and wife. I’m glad she came to our wedding. Haha!
Yes, there are some relations that may only be for a season. But there are some connections that I need to cultivate to make it last a very long time.
- I’m married, so it would be my spouse.
- I’m a parent, so it would be my two daughters.
- I’m a pastor, so it would be the people I disciple.
Here’s how I put LIFE into my relationships: (The acrostic L.I.F.E. helps me remember it better).
I mean really listen. I often get tempted to say what’s on my mind while the person is still talking! That hinders me from understanding the conversation and making a proper response. I’ve got to slow down my mind and my mouth so I can listen better. That person will surely appreciate it much!
I must listen to WHAT the person is saying. But as important, I must “listen” to HOW the person is feeling. I need to discern the emotions involved. When I do this, the person sees me as a good listener and really concerned. (More about “listening” in a future post!)
People feel blessed whenever I initiate doing good to them. It doesn’t have to be a big, expensive treat. Usually, the small favors that can be done by almost anyone bring a lot of smiles to their faces.
There’s a big difference between “intending good” and “initiating good”. Intentions are nice, but it doesn’t mean much to help another person. Taking initiative can bring me some discomfort, but the benefits of nurturing that relationship far outweigh it.
The closer I am with someone, the more chances that we would rub each other the wrong way. No friendship is conflict-free. I am imperfect and so is everyone else.
Yet, if I develop a culture of forgiveness with a person, we will build stronger bonds with each other in the end.
The bible verse in Colossians. 3:13 guide me especially when I don’t “feel” like forgiving someone:
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
We all have our good days and bad days. It may take only a few words from someone to get me out of discouragement. I then get up, and face life again with a proper perspective. I have been a recipient of people encouraging me through words of comfort or quoting a bible verse. That’s why I love to do the same to others.
There are many powerful ways to encourage. It could be through words, a pat on the back, or even just my presence with a person who’s hurting. These could mean a world of difference for someone. Strong connections are formed where encouragements abound.
If I do this more… Listen, Initiate, Forgive, Encourage… then I’m able to breathe more L.I.F.E. into my relationships. Similarly, your relationships can only grow stronger.
Let the love of Christ be your motivation to do this.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35
Among the four areas, what can you do more of in your relationships? What relationships are you hoping to build more soon?
Posted on: September 16, 2014
Photo Credit: Zeus Martinez