A good relationship is not a gift……
In his widely acclaimed book ‘The 5 love languages’, Christian counselor and author, Gary Chapman teaches that romantic love has two stages. The first stage he calls the ‘being in love’ stage. This stage he describes as requiring little effort from us since we are driven by euphoric feelings to spend time with each other and freely do things for one another without giving much thought to the cost or sacrifice. However, it doesn’t last very long (about 2 years) and quickly gives way to the second stage of romantic love- the more intentional stage. At this stage, much of the euphoric feelings that previously empowered us to share and sacrifice for each other has ebbed and as such, we must become more intentional and purposeful in our actions to cultivate that relationship.
Much as I would like to share with you what I think about romantic love and marriage, that’s not what this piece is about. Rather, it’s about how I’ve come to believe that many of us need to apply the knowledge of ‘intentionality’ in developing our individual relationships with each member of our immediate family.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed how subtlety modern life draws family members apart. Parents and children spend more time away from home due to the demands of their jobs and because the children either stay in the boarding house /with relatives because they school so far away from home. Yet unfortunately, what little time they have to share the same house and hopefully interact with each other is stolen by each person’s unnecessary ‘busy-ness’ and constant fidgeting with either the T.V remote, a smart phone, a laptop or a tablet.
My wake up call came about a year ago when my immediate younger sister came to spend her holidays with me along with 2 of her closest friends. As the days passed and my sister and her friends chatted away, I became keenly aware of how much I did not know about my own sister. Although one could make a case that the fact that we attended separate schools with different academic calendars made it difficult for us to spend our holidays together, I however had to acknowledge within myself the fact that I’d never really tried to get to know her.
Sadly, I had lived a great deal of the previous six years of my life after knowing Christ for myself and my work (which included my studies and my service in Church). I treated members of my family like many couples do their spouses after the children are born- I took them for granted, I wasn’t a troublesome and terrible daughter or sister, but I wasn’t intentional about spending time with them or sharing my experiences with them, when I was away from home I rarely called and when I was home, I busied myself with several important and ‘not so important’ activities so that most of my conversations with members of my family was just routine.
I have since learnt from my errors and have begun being intentional about the quality and nature of my interactions with both my parents and my siblings. The changes so far have been absolutely rewarding. Not only do I know that I’m honoring God by investing in my family relationships, building these relationships has helped me appreciate how important it is for our parents to trust us and for our siblings to confide in us when in need of godly counsel.
So, today I ask you to do a evaluate your relationships with the individual members of your family and make a new commitment to God and to your self to intentional invest in improving the quality of your relationships with each person. When you do, I guarantee that you will learn (just as I am learning) that a good relationship is not a gift but a worthwhile achievement. selah!!
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