Every healthy relationship needs to have these five things:
- Respect (treat each others as equals)
- Understanding (it feels like the other person gets us)
- Appreciation & affirmation
- Trust & Security (it’s safe to be honest without fear of being attacked and won’t be cheated on)
- Love (there is patience, kindness, and self control)
When these things are in place, both people feel happy in the relationship, which leads to more laughter and less chance of rudeness and a fight. There can be a disagreement, but there’s less possibility it’ll explode into something bigger. This is the kind of relationship stories sell, “And they lived happily ever after.” This is what people dream about… unless there’s something wrong with you: (person with something wrong) “I love fighting and wondering whose turn it is to call the cops. This is the dream.” These five things are what make a relationship great, which means they are also important when it comes to a relationship with others including God.
On Thanksgiving I was at my Mom’s church and the pastor asked the typical question: “What are you thankful for?” and the congregation gave the typical answers: “God is good,” “God is great,” “He loves me.” While these cliché answers were being said my wife leaned over and whispered, “I’m thankful for deodorant. I just wish the guy in front of us was wearing it.” That was an authentic answer. We need to be thankful for the basic things we have in our life. Unfortunately, like most congregations, they stuck with, “God is good,” “God is great,” “He loves me.” What ticked me off about this is how can you say that when there is so much hurt in the world? If my non Christian friends asked me why I’m a Christian and I started, “God is good…” they’d be like, “We can’t be friends anymore,” or they’d at least question me: “Do you ever watch the news? How ignorant are you?” (me) “I’m a Christian, so I guess a lot.” Our world has hospitals and funeral homes because our world is so tough. Thus, the question begs: Is God really “good?”
I will be clear: I am a Christian and proud of it (arguably the coolest statement anyone can say). That being said, I’m not sure if I trust God. The Bible says, “Be thankful in all circumstance, for this is God’s will…” (1 Thes 5: 18a). Since happiness grows out of thankfulness, I believe this statement is another way of saying “Be happy, for that is God’s will.” I believe that God wants this world to be better, which is why He gave us rules like don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t disagree with anything Chad says. That last one may need to be verified. These are “good,” but I struggle with how involved God actually is. C.S. Lewis wrote that God chooses to limit His power in the world, which is why He’s not constantly answering every prayer for the miraculous even if healing someone seems like the better choice. This makes sense, but the questions still beg: How much does He limit Himself? Why does He seem to be better to some people than others? How can we trust when we can’t answer these two questions?
The other day I was doing my daily devotions and I realized I believe God respects me, understands me, and I feel some affirmation, and while love is questionable (I have a hard time feeling loved when I can’t see a face or share a hug), I really struggle with trust because I don’t even know what I’m supposed to trust.
My conclusion is that God’s provision and connection looks different for everyone because He meets us where we’re at and not according to a formula. I was recently listening to a room of pastors share their stories of faith and it’s amazing how different they all were. Thus, I trust that God meets us in our own way, but that being said, on a scale of 0-10 for trust with zero being nothing and ten the most, I’m like a four. I feel like I’m in a marriage with someone who has been sent away for work and they’re not allowed to contact me. I have some letters they’ve written awhile ago, but there’s nothing undeniably from them to encourage me to know I’m remembered or they’re even alive. In Matthew 18, Jesus gives the parable of the lost sheep and how a shepherd will leave the ninety-nine to find the one that’s lost (aka the dumb one… that’s the classification I give; not Jesus). Am I in the ninety-nine being left behind? Jesus says “…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mat 17:20b) Really? Yes, I’ve seen some miraculous answers to prayer and I believe they are answers and not just coincidence (sometimes, anyway), but it’s so hit and miss how do I trust Him completely? Is it even wise to trust because broken hope is soul crushing?
In this post I wanted to make sure I taught something, which is why the beginning starts as it does, and this idea of trust with God is an example of when one or more of these five things (respect, understanding, appreciation & affirmation, trust & security, and love) is lower, a relationship suffers, but ultimately, I want to be authentic. I don’t want to be another person who simply says, “God is good,” “God is great,” “He loves me.” Christians need to be braver about what they really feel. No relationship is perfect, especially one that is with a God we can’t see. Maybe when we’re in heaven it’ll be different, but right now, our relationship is strained at best. And, like any relationship, it’s the work we put into it that helps us grow and feel like an active party. I may not fully trust God, but I will remain fully faithful… at least as faithful as I can be. Like in a marriage, I can’t control the other person, but I can control myself. And, if nothing else, God is happy that I’m thinking about Him rather than blindly following.
This week may you take an authentic look at where you stand with your partner and/or God.
Rev.Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people