Let’s face it, healthy relationships don’t happen by accident. Relationships require hard work and commitment. I often compare relationships to gardening. If you have ever tried to grow something, you know that you just can’t plop a seed into the ground and walk away hoping for the best. I’ve tried this and it doesn’t work. Whether you’re growing vegetables or flowers, careful attention is required for the best chances for the gardener to enjoy the “fruits of his labor.”
The same is true for healthy relationships. We often experience growth and life in our relationships when we pay attention to our needs. A garden will quickly become unmanageable, weed infested, and barren without the Gardener’s touch and care, and so goes our relationships. As I reflect upon the important people in my life, these are some of the “tools” I plan to use to keep my relationships strong and healthy in the new year:
- Smile: Make efforts to demonstrate emotional warmth to loved ones. Tend to anything that may threaten efforts to show kindness and affection verbally or physically. Common threats include stress, irritability, anxiety, and unresolved hurts and emotional injuries.
- Filter: Commit to stating the positive and filter out everything else. Avoid using negative or hurtful words. It’s just not worth it.
- Letting Go: Let go of past resentments and break the blame cycle. Seek to reconcile broken relationships by offering apology and forgiveness. Let go of pride, anger, fear, anxiety or anything else that stands in the way of restoring relationships.
- Be Flexible: Resist “have to”, “should” and “must” thinking. Give yourself permission to experience the good in your relationships even when things are not going your way.
- Affirm: Tell others how much you care and love them. Make it a priority to compliment and build up your loved ones. Discover how offering genuine affirming words builds relationship intimacy and connection. Do this often.
- Be Available: Make time for friends and family. Be present emotionally and physically. By showing up in the lives of others, you’re communicating how much you value your loved ones.
Finally, seek out ways to experience and express:
- Esteeming one another
These are some of the ingredients that help restore broken relationships and keep relationships alive and thriving. If you are intentional in plugging these things into your relationships, I believe meaningful connection, trust, and intimacy will occur. Also, remember that God can make all things new, and can breathe life into our dying and hurting relationships. He created us to be in relationship with each other and with Him and can teach us how to truly love and care for each other. Don’t be afraid to ask God to change your heart and to show you how to make your relationships stronger.