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Woman and young girl embracing outdoors smilingWhat is the earliest memory you have as a child and the relationships you had? Was it pleasant or sad?

We are shaped and molded by people and events as we grow up.

The experiences we had as a child affect our relationships as an adult.

Max Lucado in one segment of “Traveling Light for Mothers writes about a “wedding reenactment” they did at his church. In this staged drama the thoughts of the bride and groom were revealed to those watching as they stood before the pastor and the altar.

Each had armloads full of “excess baggage” of “guilt, anger, arrogance, and insecurities” they were bringing with them to this new relationship.

Each believed they were marrying the person who would help them carry or relieve them of their load, and would take care of them.

As they stood before the congregation, their “baggage”, typically unseen, was piled high around them.

What did you bring with you to your significant relationships?

What did you learn as a child? Did you learn to trust, have faith, how to share and get along with others? Did you feel loved and accepted even when your behavior didn’t warrant it?

Or did you learn that nobody cared, you were helpless to make any changes, and were told over and over again how worthless, stupid and insignificant you were? Did you learn to shrink in the background so you wouldn’t be noticed?

Did you learn that no matter how hard you tried you were never quite good enough and would never amount to anything? Did you learn that relationships were just constant arguments and fights and power struggles?

Gregory L. Jantz, PH.D, wrote in his book, “Moving Beyond Depression”, about the importance of reviewing the family dynamics we grew up with. When we can identify those relationships that were unhealthy and destructive, we can also begin to identify those that were supportive and significant and work on strengthening those. That includes the relationship we have with ourselves.

If you have been in some troubling relationships, here are some questions you might like to ask:

  1. What was your best relationship and what made it successful?
  2. What was your worst relationship and what made it so bad?
  3. What do you want in a relationship? What do you give and what do you expect in return?
  4. What relationships are destructive in the long term and you ready now ready to let go of and which ones do you want to strengthen?
  5. What kind of relationship do you have with yourself? With God?

As you explore the answers to these questions, you might want to consider reading about some of the relationships we find in the bible. Consider the following:

  • Genesis 4: Cain and Able – brothers
  • I Samuel 18-20: David and Jonathan
  • Job: Job and his not so helpful friends
  • I & II Timothy: The Apostle Paul and Timothy
  • Ruth: Ruth and Naomi – mother-in-law and daughter-in-law
  • The 4 Gospels: Jesus and his disciples

Relationships are important. There is so much we can do to both establish and strengthen good relationships as we let go of those that might feel good in the moment but are destructive over time.

Marlene Anderson

Also in the RELATIONSHIPS series:

Part 1: Relationships: Who Needs Them?

Part 3: Relationships: Love Them or Hate Them

Part 4: Relationships Book Feature: Tales of Two Sisters

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