Saturday, June 16, 2012

Relationships 101

I've learned that no matter what, one of the most important things to any relationship, whether that be one of friendship, of family, of intimacy, is that each person feel strong as an individual before they approach another. Strength is exuded in self-confidence, in resting secure in your identity as you, in recognizing the power of your own actions and words, in recognizing your own contributions as valid (even if not only correct). You are happy in who you are, and there is no void that needs to be filled by another soul in order for you to maintain this happiness.

Perhaps, strength is also exuded in humility. In the recognition that you are not perfect, that you can never achieve perfection. The power of Christ is to give us the strength we need in spite of our weaknesses. And we can find strength in the knowledge that Christ already knows that we're weak - and accepts us, loves us, and died for us in spite of that knowledge.

If I can take a gender lens to this issue, then I think that this particular part of relationships can be hardest for women. Women are told from their childhood that they are the gentler sex, the sex that needs to be rescued, whose voice need never be heard, whose value rests in finding marriage to a strong male who will forever protect them. Males, in the opposite way, are told that they must be the protector in the relationship. They will save the day, they will make everything right, they will be strong for the both of them.

The church is, in particular, guilty of making women feel weak, in need of male rescuing, and voiceless. We are told that we cannot preach, we cannot teach, we cannot speak in church, that our advice, counsel, wisdom, or inspired words are less valuable than those of the males in the church. Women - you need to know that you are loved by God. That you are valuable. That alone, that in singleness, you are strong. We cannot define ourselves by someone else. We must define ourselves as a child of God, with equal ability to think, to act, to speak, to love, to teach, to preach. I do not believe that the way I am born should dictate what I can and cannot do. Nor do I think that's something that God wants to limit me with. God communicates with me daily, and I learn from Him daily through the Bible, through his church, through nature. I recognize myself as a child of God, who cannot earn her right to his grace, but only receive it as a gift of love in spite of my weaknesses. If I can find strength in Jesus, then I am complete. No man can do that - only God. Neither can I be the cause of strength for another - I don't have the power to hold someone else up, only God does.

For Christians, we need to learn to base our relationships in God. And most beautiful, I think that if we start a romantic relationship, both parties should have to fall in love with God first before they can reach the heart of the other and fall in love with them. I am a strong single female. I am loved by God. I will only enter into an intimate relationship if he exudes strength of self, and if he pursues God in order to reach my heart.


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