I'll bet you know someone who gives great gifts. Every time there's a reason to celebrate, this person always seems to present the coolest gift and people get excited to see what gift she has given. Is that person you? It's not me. I struggle to find gifts for occasions and quite frankly, I don't really enjoy shopping. What I do well is doing things for people, and I'll praise their success and encourage them in their life. Why the difference? I think it comes down to how we perceive love ourselves.
Each of us encounters love in different ways. For me, words of affirmation and acts of service resonate with me as love. Since that's how I perceive love, that's what I'm inclined to give. Unfortunately, the person I'm trying to show love to may not feel loved. If we don't take the time to really understand someone, they may never really feel loved or appreciated. It's important to give the person the right kind of love. In his book, The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman, outlines ways that people feel loved. You can discover your love language on his website.
Of all the areas in life to try and find balance, I think relationships are by far the most difficult to navigate. There are factors that are beyond our control and emotions often give way to our thinking as facts. It's easy to interpret past experiences and the emotions felt as facts. When this happens, relationships can be strained or broken all together. Can you separate facts from perceived thoughts? A fact is something like, Brian works Lowes. A perceived thought is Brian is the hardest worker at Lowes. So no one would argue the fact that Brian works at Lowes, but whether he's a hard workers or not may be up for debate.
There are so many unspoken thoughts and non-verbal actions that are misinterpreted between people. Misconceptions and misspoken words can hurt and break people's trust. Then what? How does one restore brokenness? I don't think there is any one answer, but perhaps a lifetime of daily forgiveness and humbling one's self in thinking that no one if perfect and likely sometime in our own life, we have hurt others without even knowing it.
Years ago, I taught a second grade Sunday School class. One of the lessons was how to have joy in our life. I'm pretty sure my students don't remember anything that day we discussed, but I never forgot it and try to use this simple concept everyday. JOY is found by putting Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. That's not what our culture teaches, and I wonder if that's why there is so much unhappiness.
So many times we are hurt by others. It creates wounds, sometimes very deep and when someone gives more than takes, a relationship can be exhausting both mentally and physically. Sometimes it's necessary to end relationships that are not healthy. Sometimes no matter how hard we have tried, the other person just isn't responsive or maybe is unable to give.
Over the next few months, I plan to unpack this post in more detail. There is a lot to chew on here. Like I said, relationships are difficult to navigate because we have the least amount of control. Just remember, You cannot change the other person; you can only change YOU. Sometimes just a small change in you can create an affect of the other person.
Health-bite: Live in JOY and you will find joy.