Monday, July 11, 2011

Look Where You are Going

Look where you are going or you will go where you are looking.

These words came together for me as we were taking a family walk this morning. We walk along the trails through the park…actually, I power walk and try to keep up with Laurelei as she runs (not so easy at 27 weeks preggo). Laurelei will get distracted by something on the side of the trail or on the ground and start veering off that direction, me calling out to her, and often barely missing running into something. I found myself repeating this phrase to her, “Look where you are going”, and suddenly I added “or you’ll go where you are looking”. I kept repeating it to Scott, and I said – this is a good word. He agreed (any wise husband would ).

Where we are focused determines where we are headed…our pastor talks a good deal about having a vision and to keep talking about it so you stay on track. But I want to talk to you about how your focus can help or hinder relationships.

I’m not sure if everyone has this same struggle that I have had, but I do know many share this pain. So I want to share what God has been teaching me about pursuing and maintaining relationships. Before I met Scott, I had experienced a very frustrating series of events with men. It left me feeling a little jaded about the potential for ever finding the man of my dreams. God led me to a book, that, while I’m not sure the entire premise is effective for everyone, it did offer good criticism of how we look at the opposite sex and dating in general. It’s called, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, by Joshua Harris. After reading the book, I realized that I needed to stop looking at the men around me as potential future husbands, but rather as my brothers in Christ and to protect, encourage, and love them.

When God brought Scott into my life, I didn’t take the cool coincidences that kept happening as a sign that God was bringing my future husband into my life. I didn’t examine Scott’s actions to see if they might be those of my husband (which I often did before, often finding myself disappointed with that person when they didn’t measure up – what unfair pressure on a relationship). Actually, I enjoyed our conversations, but kept my eyes ahead on where God was leading me. Scott did too. And eventually discovered that where God was leading us was right to each other. Without trying, God revealed Scott’s character and intentions to me over time, and we built a firm friendship. By the time romantic interest was even on the table, we both knew the kind of person we were dating and dating with the intention of marrying this person.

What does this have to do with other friendships? Well we often (and by we I mean me) look at the people we meet as potential to fill certain needs/desires in our life. Perhaps I go to a women’s event and sit next to a girl who’s about my age, married, and a child around Laurelei’s age. Let’s say we have a positive conversation and seem to have a lot in common. She might say, we should hang out sometime. Often by the time we are both home we have decided that we are going to be best friends for life and our husbands are going to love each other too and our children are going to grow up together and we are all going to live happily ever after. Well what if I go to friend her on facebook and see images of her doing things that I’m not really interested in, or what if I send her a friend request or call her to invite her over and she doesn’t respond? I’ve had only one conversation with this person, but built her up so much in my mind that it often leads to utter disappointment.

(I have another post on being careful not to say “we should get together” if you really have no intention of doing so or are not able to hold up that end with your current schedule…just say “it was great to meet you”…but that’s a whole other story)

God has really been showing me that when I keep my focus on Him and walk where He wants me to walk, He will bring the right relationships in and out of my life and the right time. Timing is ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. When I start trying to pursue relationships, I change my focus to that person, and speaking from experience of being on the receiving end of such attention – all it makes that person want to do is run the other way…just the fact of human nature. No one wants to be the center of anyone’s attention…actually that is not true – codependent people want to be the center of your attention and make sure that you are never able to do anything by yourself and need them for everything so you can never leave them. Yikes!

Anyway, only God can handle being the center of your attention. He’s the only one who will never cause you to sin in that, He will never disable your ability to grow and be healthy. But the moment we get our focus off of Him, things start to get messy. And when we start to romanticize everything that a relationship could be, we put an incredible amount of pressure on that relationship where there is no strength yet to hold up.

So if you are struggling with relationships or feeling rejected, try redirecting your focus to the perfect friend, God. And when you meet someone new who you are excited about, tell God about them and how you feel. Ask God to help you not to think about them and to bring the relationships in and out that need to be there. Then go back to what God has already been telling you to do.

I heard this said growing up that we are all running a race toward the goal of Christ. Every now and then God will allow some people to run alongside you and enjoy one another’s company and spur one another on, but if you cling too tightly to that person one of you will end up being held back or tripped. You must each have the freedom to run ahead or change direction as needed. This is real, healthy friendship. Beth Moore says to beware of instant relationships; healthy relationships grow over time. Their foundation is in trust earned through real-life experiences. Think about it.

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