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Miranda Writes: Relationships, Part 2




by Omar Miranda

Why we want relationships, and what supports them

Last week I introduced to you the topic of dating and relationships and why it was important that we talk about it. I also discussed my opinion related to teenagers and exclusive dating/courtship and the research supporting my reasons. What was my opinion about teens exclusively dating? I’m glad you asked. In short: Exclusive dating is a bad idea; generally it’s safe to begin exclusively dating when you get to college. This week I’d like to talk about why we seek emotional connections and relational intimacy as hard as we do. I’d also like to discuss the four most important components of a godly, healthy relationship.

Seeking a connection

In order to understand why we seek emotional connections and relational intimacy as hard as we do, there are two crucial points that we must recognize: (1) God is a relational being; (2) we were all made in God’s image.

Genesis 1:26, 27 says: “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. . . .’ So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (NLT).1
Therefore, if God is relational and we were made in His image, we are meant to be relational. What does that mean? Simply: We were created for intimacy. But how do we define intimacy? Well, a definition for intimacy is for us to understand, accept, and love another person deeply and honestly and for us, in return, to be known, accepted, and loved deeply and honestly by another—I know, I know, it’s pretty scary stuff.

This is really important for us to know because no one gets through this life all by themselves. We all connect with something. Most of us connect with real, living, breathing human beings, but sometimes people connect with sports or movie stars, writers, singers, or even animals—but we all connect with something. English poet John Donne wrote these true and famous words: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” What did he mean by that? Simply that to be emotionally, spiritually, and socially healthy, everyone needs to connect to someone else.

A fourfold foundation


Now, let’s take a look at the four pillars of relationships (information adapted from Relationships That Work [and Those That Don’t], by H. Norman Wright [Regal Books, 1998]). These pillars apply to all kinds of relationships.

The basics of a relationship are like the pillars of a house. All must be strong. If you try to make up for one weak pillar by strengthening another, the whole structure will be out of balance and will either slowly crumble or quickly come crashing down.

The four pillars:

1. Love: Love is expressed through giving safety and security, support, a sense of belonging, care, and acceptance. Out of all the pillars, it is the most important. Paul, writing in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, tells us: “What if I could speak all languages of humans and of angels? If I did not love others, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. What if I could prophesy and understand all secrets and all knowledge? And what if I had faith that moved mountains? I would be nothing, unless I loved others. What if I gave away all that I owned and let myself be burned alive? I would gain nothing, unless I loved others” (CEV).2

2. Trust: Trust is an attitude of healthy dependence upon another person for some result or outcome. It is the most fragile of the four pillars. The level of trust you have with somebody will largely depend upon the extent and quality of your previous romantic involvement. In other words, if you’ve been burned a lot relationally before, then it’s going to take you a lot longer to “warm up to someone” in the future. That’s why it’s so important to stay out of serious romantic relationships until you’re emotionally and cognitively ready to deal with all the baggage that comes with them.  

3. Respect: Respect can also be defined as honoring somebody else. It is basically recognizing and acknowledging the other person’s worth or value. It can also mean having an attitude of love. Out of all the pillars, it is most neglected. I think the reason is that for me to honor and respect somebody, I have to really make an effort to make them important. But more important, I have to truly examine my motives and make sure that I’m doing it not for what I can get from them or from the relationship, but for what I can give to them and to the relationship.
4. Understanding: Understanding can also be defined as knowledge. Out of all the pillars, it is most often short-circuited and takes the longest to develop. When it comes to this pillar, if you truly want to get to know the person better every day, you will always be learning. Learning can be as simple as reading an article like this, or maybe a book on relationships, or just speaking to other people who you know that have great relationships and learning from them—either way, investing some energy and brainpower is always a great idea.

I hope that learning this information not only informs you, but moves you to action: that you’ll use it to make all your romantic and nonromantic relationships better—and possibly help a friend or relative make their relationships more godly and more healthy as well.

Next week I’ll be discussing what changes happen in guys’ and girls’ brains and the major emotional differences in each sex and how that affects the kinds of relationships they have and look for. You won’t want to miss it.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

1Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
2 Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.
 





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