God has made us to need relationships. From the moment of creation, it was “not good” for man to be alone, and God made Eve so that the couple could help, support, and love each other. When the couple sinned and tried to hide from God, God sought them out, pursuing relationship with them. As humankind began to flourish, great emphasis is placed on the parent-child relationship, family connections, and even close friendships like that between David and Jonathan, Jesus and his disciples, Paul and Timothy.
Relationships are important.
But why? Relationships are hard! People lie and cheat, people are selfish and prideful. Love is risky and often painful. Yet relationships are critically important to each of us – our relationship with God and with each other define who we are.
Relationships are valuable because they create opportunity to honor God, to grow, and to experience greater joy and peace.
We honor God when we sacrifice for the good of someone else, when we go out of our way to be kind or do acts of service to help others. We grow from relationships because they show us the dirty details of who we are, revealing our pride and selfishness, so that we can address those areas in confession and prayer. I cannot change things about myself that I don’t know exist.
When we share our life experiences with others, we experience those moments more deeply and with greater meaning. Joy is multiplied when we share it with others. Grief and sadness are softened when we can cry on a loved one’s shoulder. Peace is more deeply felt when in the presence of a beloved, trusted, safe person – parent, spouse, siblings, or friend.
Most of us yearn for closer relationships. I deeply love Jesus, my husband, my parents and siblings, and I have many wonderful friends – but there are many days that feel lonely or isolated. No matter how wonderful our relationships are today, they will never quite hit the mark of perfection – because that can only be experienced when sin is completely absent and Jesus is fully on his throne.
Yet, it is possible to grow in our relationships today – and we should all invest that effort, because relationships are hugely valuable! When I feel lonely, it helps to call someone whom I know cares about me – or even to pray for those people, to look at photographs, or write letters. When I’m angry with my husband, it helps to acknowledge that, guard my tongue, and problem-solve the issue together. It is worthwhile to invest in relationships today, because they add great value to our lives. They honor God. They grow us. They deepen us.