Relationships Matter

Relationships matter. They are priceless treasures scattered along the journey of life. It's important that we pick them up, care for them, clean them and steward them so that the value and beauty found with the relationship jewel enriches our lives. I'm convinced we should not only gather enrichment, but we should also cultivate an inheritance passed along to others so that generations after us receive the DNA of timeless values, but also have the freedom to determine how those values behave, what language they use to communicate them, etc. The following are some notes I typed up while giving a presentation.

Comedian Bill Cosby once said, “The truth is, that parents are not really interested in justice. They just want quiet.”

2 Types of Parents:

Those who build and those who bless. We should do both.

I assume it is in the heart of all parents that we see our sons and daughters emerge as people of integrity, honor and significant contributors to society in a healthy and life-giving way.  However, even though these passions exist in our heart it is hard work to shepherd, raise, empower and release our others into the “wild.”

Therefore, let's talk about our homes, our hearts and our children.

Condition #1: Connection - Do you have your child’s heart? Connection is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. It’s why we are here. Certainly as a member of the clergy I believe with strong conviction that our first connection should be a relationship with God through the sacrificial life of Jesus Christ. But beyond your spiritual beliefs, you can still have a strong connection with your children. You can nurture them and love them so that they go forward and listen an amazing life.

5 sub-conditions to a quality connection: a.  Value - answers the question, “What am I willing to give up because you are worth my time and commitment? You are a priority to me.”

b.  Energy - energy is about intentionally pursuing another with the goal of heart to heart connection. It’s about an awareness on how to do that. It’s often subtle hints, but they come (i.e. - playing cars to get to my son's heart or taking my daughter to the local coffee shop for her favorite latte.) Energy also means that I will with intention and joy speak the right love languages.

c.  Sacrifice - you surrender your authority to be right for the betterment of the relationship.  You can’t have intimate connection if you have one foot out the door, illustrating that you are disengaging from what matters.  Sacrifice says, "I will fight the battles I know my children can't win while at the same time giving them absolute freedom to make their own choices for the quality of life they want."  We must provide soft landings so that when they fail they land more softly because of love.   A friend of mine illustrated this once by sharing the story of how he taught his children to ride a bike.  I don't know about you but I learned how to ride on the paved road in front of my home.

In my many efforts and attempts I crashed, bumped, banged and walked with a number of bruises and scrapes.  My buddy taught his kids to ride in the park, on the grass so that when they fail, the landing is much softer and less abrasive.  Sacrifice provides that type of landing place for those we love.

d.  Trust gives us the ability to be exposed emotionally and feel no shame or judgement.  We must have safe environments.  They are the result of a emotionally safe people managing themselves with care and dignity.  Are you a safe person?

When shame, fear and danger are in the room people cover their sensitive areas which looks like privacy, misunderstanding, etc.  Your children deserve a personal life, but private lives can be the result of fear.

e.  Authenticity.   We must talk to our children carefully and treat with charity.  I do not mean that we treat them as overly fragile and therefore do EVERYTHING for them.  But I am saying to in order to connect you must be really seen and to be really seen means you role model authenticity and integrity.

There are enemies of the heart to heart connection: a.  Shame - it’s a fear of disconnection.  Shame says, "I AM BAD."  It declares, "I'm not ______ enough!" b.  Fear - it's the absence of love. If fear is governing your parenting then you need more love. That is not the product of a strong will, but the product of a spiritual awakening and being touched by the divine.

Condition #2: Unconditional Love - Is my love always on?

When you insert love into any situation, you confront & you err on the side of freedom. We must learn how to manage our freedoms, not manage our lack, smallness and control.

Ask, in ALL situations, “What do you need from me?” or “I have a value for honor, love and respect. If I have made a mess I want to clean the mess I made.”

Love never gives up!

Our children need to know that nothing can separate them from our love.

The highest priority of our lives is love. We are training our children how to have loving, lasting and life-giving relationships. How to repair them and grow them, which is bigger than the adolescent situations that face us on a daily basis.

If we fail role modeling unconditional love, we teach them that a value for “stuff” or “traditions” is more important than a value for the power of connection and love.  What matters is how our trust, our loyalty and our vision of their lives is influencing works through love for them.  People who have strong sense of being worthy of love flourish in home environments.

Vulnerability is the core place for shame, ugliness, fear, but it’s also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and hope.  A key to demonstrating unconditional love is vulnerability. It comes from a Latin root word meaning “to wound.” When we expose our hearts to our children they can hurt us. Our children are powerful. They can wound our hopes or they can wound our fears.

So how do you parent from a vulnerable position? a.  Personally deal with your pain and disappointment (which makes the heart sick.) b.  Publicly demonstrate hope and belief.

A great illustration of this is the Stockdale Paradox.  It states, "You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties AND at the same time you must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."

It is not wise to numb the pain vulnerability with fear (control), comfort foods, drugs/alcohol which can lead to addictions or money which can drown us in debt.

The enemies of unconditional love are: a.  Fundamentalism which makes uncertain things become certain.  There are mysteries in the world and we have to be ok with it. b.  Perfectionism  which states perfect parents have to make perfect kids.  Good Luck with that. c.  Pretending which disillusions us about what we do not having an affect on people.

Closing Thought:

1.Do you have your child’s heart? If so, what is working? If not, why not? 2.Is your love on for your child or is your heart being governed by disappointment, hopelessness, etc?