Sunday, July 12, 2009

Purpose of Relationship

When entering into a relationship, I would suggest that we should ask ourselves a question, “What is the purpose of this relationship? What role is it going to play in my life?” If the answer has to do with meeting needs or creating our own happiness, then some second thoughts about relationship might be in order.

Picture yourself at the center of a set of concentric circles. Let each circle represent a level of your “community;” of that which “is” but is not “self.” What constitutes each circle will vary for each of us, but for most the inner one is the spouse or significant other. The next might be the birth family, or a support group. The next the community and then, working outward, the city, the nation, the environment… Surrounding everything is that “power greater than myself” which guides and provides the strength for daily life.

In the process, then, of “turning outward from self, toward others and toward God” my sense of self embraces all of that diagram so that I am no longer the center of it; all of it is part of me, all of it connects me to God and is part of my guidance and strength.

What role, then, does that relationship fulfill, sitting there as it does as the inner circle in my diagram? Or, if I have already made that happy turn, what role is that relationship going to play when I place there into my life?

If I am focused on what the relationship is doing for me, then wants and needs become confused, my view becomes clouded by unmet expectations and the role of that relationship in my life becomes an inward one and it is blocking me from the rest of my diagram. In my focus on the relationship’s contribution to my happiness or perceived needs I am creating an environment in which the relationship actually makes me smaller.

As I mentioned earlier in the approach to profession, when I see the relationship as an opportunity to contribute to something larger than myself, then its role is an outward one in my life and that relationship becomes a bridge to a larger me and a bridge to God. And in the process my needs get met and my happiness is abundantly increased; not by the relationship alone or by my efforts, but by the relationship and by the larger environment to which the relationship connects me.

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