How come our high school education missed a few very important classes? We crammed our brains with academic information but often missed a few life skills classes along the way. Wouldn’t it be great if we had classes like “Society 101,” “People Skills 101,” and (please!) “Manners 101”? But I think there’s nothing more needed, however, than a relationship counseling class.
“Relationships 101” should be mandatory for every human’s education. Why? Well, sometimes we were taught good relationship skills at home. Sometimes not. Children can be raised with a head full of knowledge and yet have no idea how to navigate human relationships. We don’t all have great examples to learn from and follow.
What would be important to learn in a “Relationships 101” class? What are we too often missing in our relationships with our friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers? Here are a few basics we all need to learn and relearn throughout our lives.
5 of the Best Pieces of Relationship Counseling for Everyone
- We are all flawed. We marry flawed people. And then we give birth to flawed people. This is a huge dilemma. It is better known as the human condition. And no one can escape this. That is why the lesson of grace is so important. Often I found myself drowning in a dreamy standard of marriage or life that I couldn’t meet. The resulting stress wreaked havoc in our home. My “must-do, must-be, must-have” list provoked endless feelings of failure. I needed to embrace a big dose of God’s grace so that I could then extend a big dose of grace to my people. God’s grace, extended through one another, is the only calming aura our family and our home can embrace. It’s probably the most important ingredient in any relationship.
- Everyone is unique. Everyone is gifted. I had to learn to quit shoving my round pegs into square holes. This became most apparent when I tried cramming my creative child into my math-minded thinking. I could not understand how he could not understand. I decided to study this kid. What made him tick? What were his gifts? My mantra became, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” We began celebrating him in his own strengths—certainly not in math. He has become a creative and successful photographer working on the mission field. Glad I didn’t bury his heart in the failures of my math-minded thinking! Once we nurture a “round hole” environment for our round pegs to blossom, we can stand in anticipation and awe at what God does. Not what “we do,” but what God does through the unique gifts of others. We all need each other and the gifts we can share with one another.
- Focus on that which is praiseworthy. This is a game-changer! It’s usually easy to see what is wrong in a scenario. However, the Word of God tells us in Philippians 4:8 to focus on that which is pure and admirable and praiseworthy. God knew that our obedience to this Scripture would be imperative to relational success. Since we have an enemy attempting to steal, kill, and destroy, we find ourselves in a world of negativity. We see how things are going wrong, what can’t be done, and the sins of others. Goodness, I cannot survive living that way. It stifles the abundant life God has for us. It’s depressing. It takes discipline to focus your attention on what’s good, but it is a blessing to both your relationships and to your soul to learn this valuable lesson.
- Good relationships take effort, time, and investment. We are all born from parents we didn’t choose, in cities we didn’t choose, and at a time in history we didn’t choose. But God knew! He makes no mistakes. God can use our closest relationships to sharpen us into better people—if we are willing to walk through the process. We cannot change those around us, but we can choose to have a gracious and forgiving heart. Difficult or irritating relationships often expose maturity issues—or the lack thereof. The return on investment for working on your God-given relationships is far greater than you could imagine. Children may or may not remember what we teach them, but ingrained in their hearts is whether or not their parents sought a deep, loving relationship with them. It’s the same with any other relationship. If you want a good one, you simply must work for it.
- The greatest of these is love. Goodness gracious, love is patient and love is kind. It does not brag and is not arrogant. It does not act unbecoming or selfish. Love covers sin and does not expose it. It is “unoffendable” as it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13 is often preached as a standard of conduct we must achieve. However, it is a beautiful picture of how Christ loves us. He is love. As we comprehend and embrace His love for us, it will then spill over into our relationships. Reread the words above and insert Christ’s name. Then imagine that “He, through you,” is patient, kind, etc. 1 Corinthians 13 is the best “relationship counselor” for those of us who need it. Love. Let’s yield our control-freak natures to the loving nature of our Father God. We can ask Him to be love through us to others even when it seems impossible.
Not a bad syllabus, right? But no one actually graduates from the “Relationship 101” class. We will spend our lives learning from and further developing relationships. Life beckons us to study this well. We can be full of knowledge but empty of wisdom. A wise life is well-lived and is deeply rooted in relationships well-loved!