The Unique Flavor of a Relationship

jesus livesHave you ever tried describing a relationship between yourself and someone to a third person? We use words and body movements to convey a picture, but we all know deep down, we can’t really do it justice. A relationship…any relationship, whether marital, friendship, acquaintance, or even adversarial… is completely unique between two people. And no matter how many generations of people have come and gone, this stands true. It always will remain true.

One of the really hard parts of Chef cheating on me was how instantly I felt replaced in that relationship. Through the filter of my broken heart, I illogically assumed that his new relationship with Tanya somehow was just an improved version of his and mine. It took some time for my perception of all that had happened to change ever so slightly to a different angle and reveal the reality I found myself in. It is patently impossible for anyone to be replaced in any relationship. I imagine we all do this to some degree. Abused children grow up and re-enact broken bonds with parents, looking to find a better outcome. Most of us have walked away from someone only to try to find that same person again, only with another person. Midlife crises are a good example of people wanting to start over, have the same parts of the last relationship they liked without all the parts they disliked. Spouses may betray spouses with other people, but the textures, smells, tastes, and overall aura of the relationship can never be duplicated. Some people may find that their new relationship is more satisfying for them, and others may find it disappointing, but they will never have been able to replicate what they walked away from ever again. We each bring our own flavor to a relationship that combined with someone else’s, makes ours completely different.

God-Hug-You-For a writer, you’d think I would have had a more finely tuned ability to describe something like this with clarity. And yet, every time I have tried to explain what my relationship with the Lord felt like, I could never quite find the right words. How do you explain both being fearful and yet trusting? Loved, but allowed to suffer? The truth is, if you can’t even give a detailed enough description of how you felt loving your husband, or how hard it was to lose all the good things you once felt in that union, how much more impossible is it to describe a relationship with Jesus?

I used to talk to Simon about God almost every time we hung out together. I can’t help it sometimes. I really do love the Lord. Often though, as hard as I was trying to convey how serving Him fulfilled something in me, or how distressingly crappy a Christian I seem to ever be, I simply felt like the picture I was creating for him wasn’t quite right.

Except, that is okay because you don’t want anyone going to God for a relationship based on expecting it to look or feel like yours. My relationship with the Lord, as it is with all the relationships in my life, changes, grows, and sometimes, it becomes more or less focused.

the shackToday, I read a book called “The Shack” by William P. Young. I think the author painted as close to a true portrait of God, His nature, His trinity, His motivations, and His level of participation in each of His followers lives as I’ve ever seen.

I have a different perception of God than a lot of people who attend church religiously, and that is never so clear as when I clash with religious people. I get irritated with dried up doctrines or congregational clichés. I get angry when movements get started in the church that claim we can demand the God give us whatever we want if we just give enough and try to summon up the correct amount of faith to believe it will happen. It infuriates me when supposedly mature Christians know nothing about God other than what they’ve been told, when we have so many bibles in this country, and are free to read them without fear of reprisal. And in all of my judgements, I lost something.

Without even noticing it, I had long ago slapped the phrase “God is Love” into some storage bin in my mind, along with calling fellow Christians “sister” or “brother”, and the generic salvation prayer everyone thinks miraculously saves you forever, and carried it up to the attic. Because the “church” was always professing it with their mouths, while their actions said otherwise, I started to instantly reject it as being important.. Except, it really is true, and it is the single most important thing about God…. Nothing that God does, or allows to be done, changes the fact that He Is Love.

I felt like I was reading about a person I know intimately, and some of the harder to explain mysteries about God that I have only had vague understandings about really became more focused. There were parts that were over my head, but it is clear, the Holy Spirit was dictating this book to one of His writers.

cultsNow, I also want to caution anyone reading this book to remember, it is a fictional story and not the Bible. Don’t go all L. Ron Hubbard on me, okay? This shouldn’t be the cornerstone for a new religion.

There was a conversation that vaguely seemed to imply that God has true believers in other religions like Buddhism or something along that line. I do not believe that all religions lead to God, and the author does say in another place that there is only one way to salvation…Jesus. But considering almost the entire book was conversations between the father of a murdered six-year-old daughter and The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost, it is surprisingly on point with how I perceive God to be.

I can’t wait to give it to Simon. Hopefully, it will help him understand how I see God in my life a little clearer. I’m pretty sure he might secretly think I’m one egg shy of a baked cake. 🙂

~ Bird



Sometimes, The Message Isn’t For Me

I have only been blogging for a couple of months, and yet I have watched, normally from the sidelines, as people with varying perceptions have “disagreed” with one another to the point that things have gotten somewhat heated. Some have quickly made amends, and others have parted ways completely. And it seems to me that it is unfortunate that this happens so often, because to me, it is only a matter of looking at things from an earthly standpoint instead of a heavenly one.

I tend to avoid such scrapes as much as I can, only being involved personally with my one throw-down on an atheist that I felt was disrespectful to an amazing degree. But, overall, I enjoy being at peace with my fellow man…or, in these cases, my fellow bloggers.

Yesterday, I had pretty much taken the day off from my computer, and when I logged on in the evening, I came across this post written by Sara, Universal Truths in answer to a post written by Anne, titled Personal Responsibility. I’ll let you catch up on the specifics, but the part that I want to address is perception.

As a young woman, I was under the mistaken impression that everything about a person could be summed up and categorized easily and efficiently, like cataloging some kind of vegetable or fruit. For example, I thought that if a person came from a home with an alcoholic parent, that person would either love or hate addictive substances. No middle ground. If a person grew up with normal, supportive parents, that person would in turn, be a normal, supportive parent. In my mind, I tended to over-simplify everything, including people. To me, the key to understanding a fellow person was in finding the correct formula that they fit in, like an algebra problem.

But, as I grew more mature, both spiritually and emotionally, and I began to deal with my own trauma from childhood, I was forced to admit that no one is truly uncomplicated. There are just too many factors that go into the sum total of a person, and with each layer I would peel off of my own self-consciousness, I would then learn to appreciate the same complexity in other human beings. Now, as I look back over my life, and the road of healing I’ve traveled, I am very slow in assuming that any other person on the planet can truly, truly understand completely why people are the way they are. And with this developing understanding of just how much we are not equipped to judge one another has come a mercy for people as I am beginning to see them from God’s perspective instead of my own. I learned to err always on the side of compassion, empathy, and mercy….all the things that I would have wanted people to give me when I was a lost, confused, angry girl.

The only universal truths I have found are in the Bible, but even in there, we don’t all fall in all of the categories. For instance, we all have varying degrees of spiritual gifts, or we struggle with different kinds of sins, etc. The one universal truth is that Jesus died for all of us, and His sacrifice was enough for anyone. But from there on, we each are approaching this life with our own sets of ideals, understandings, perceptions, mis-perceptions, and other lenses that color how we interact and react to one another.

I don’t think for even one minute that Anne was telling me, or Sara, to just get over our pasts. There is truth in her article about taking responsibility at some point in your life for your decisions. But, I guess what sparked the wariness in me is the somewhat generality of the post…Thrown out there like some random net, and not specific in its parameters.

I am not all bent out of shape about her perceptions, because taken in the context of what I believe she was aiming at, she is correct in her opinion. It is good to remember that the body of Christ is made up of many different kinds of people who vary in their gifts. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are so different, and if one takes a minute to think about the personality types that would excel at each of these different gifts, you’d find, like I did, that they would be really different.

We need the warriors in the body of Christ, but we also need the spiritual paramedics. We need people like me, who dismiss all the varying sins and shortcomings a person struggles with, and seek to see a person the way the Lord sees them, but we also need those evangelists and teachers that bring about conviction of sins, or there would be no addressing and purging of sins in any of our lives, either.

All of our gifts were given to us in order to work together in order to bring people into the Kingdom of God; to encourage each other to stay in the fight; to point the confused or lost in the right direction; to help each other in the ways that we each individually need at that moment. It would be counter-productive to be angry or resentful or dismissive of varying perceptions from our sisters and brothers in Christ just because they don’t fit our limited scope of what we think is important. Instead, by widening our viewpoint, it is rather easy to see how each of our differences, our strong points and our weak ones, work together beautifully in the big picture of the Christian Church.

Anne’s post may have hit home for someone else, even though it might not have been necessary for me, or Sara. And as such, it is important for each of us to weigh the importance of a message for our own lives, and if it is not relevant to our own circumstances at that moment, dismiss it and move on. It doesn’t say anything at all if a message simply isn’t pertinent to an individual at that moment. It might still be important for someone else.

— Bird