The main reason for relationship problems is because many relationships are built on sand. For example, you know the difference between building a house on solid rock versus building a house on sand. A house on rock may withstand heavy rain, possibly even flooding and strong winds. But a house built on sand is very likely to wash a way during a storm. This is how it is with relationships. Life consists of storms that must be weathered. Only relationships built on solid foundations are going to withstand the storms that occur in life. The solutioin for relationship problems is to build on rock. Amazingly, many people who think that they have a solid foundation in life, often discover the hard way as I did, that something is or was greatly lacking.
The good news is that we can learn to build on rock. The bad news is that most people don’t want to hear what that involves. Seeking instant gratification, they rush back into the next relationship. They will continue to struggle on their own because they mistakenly believe that they have life all figured it out. They have it down pat and are going to keep on doing the same thing over and over until it works. Did you recognize the definition of insanity in that plan–doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result?
Other people learned about handling relationships from a friend who currently has the same problems as the friend that they are advising. Failure in itself isn’t always something to be ashamed of if we can learn from our mistakes. Most people have failed at different things multiple times, but have learned new strategies to overcome their mistakes. But continuing with the same activities that resulted in previous failures seems less like strategy and more like another failure just waiting to happen, doesn’t it? Yes, that’s what it is when we keep repeating the same failed behaviors–we get more failure, Let’s make a point of breaking that habit.
Excluding emotional issues stemming from childhood or adolescence (like having an alcoholic, abusive or missing parent), the main reason why so many relationships fail is because many of us, especially at a young age, have insufficient virtue to build or maintain a great relationship. This does not mean that we are bad people, it just means that we may not yet have accepted what it would mean to have a virtuous foundation for life, and what is required to be a truly outstanding person. Without cultivating lots of good in our lives, we are little more than sand. Or, to put it more descriptively, we are like dirt or dust balls trying to attract goodness into our lives. Yet, all we attract is a mirror image of ourselves because we don’t make sufficient improvements. And because we are little more than dust, when we neglect our relationship with Our Lord and Savior, we are constantly blown here and there by the wind , accepting whatever new fad or idea comes along, never holding on to much of value; and then what we want to hold onto slips through our grasp. To borrow one of Dr. Phil McGraw’s favorite questions, “How’s that working out for you?”
When I began coming to my senses after many years of doing things my own way, I would have truthfully answered that my life was pretty much a disaster although no one knew that except me. As a young adult I had convinced myself that religion was a crutch and that church goers were little more than sheep. Since I was going to be a leader, religion and God were non essential for this big man. I was able to achieve some business success during more than twenty years of doing things my own way; and meanwhile, with each successive year, my personal life was falling apart a little bit at a time. Eventually, I could no longer see any light at the end of the tunnel, and at lowest point in my life, came to the realization that my own plans had failed; and it seemed that I had nowhere to turn. Then an unfamiliar and “unwanted” televangelist appeared on my TV. Out of boredom, I watched the TV preacher. My intent was to make fun of the preacher; but ultimately, I realized that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by repenting and asking God for help.
During a most profound experience of God’s love. forgiveness and presence to me, as I knelt, alternating praying and crying, I realized that I would have to stop doing things my way and start doing them God’s way. It turned out to be easier than I expected. God met me where I was and guided me gently through a series of faith experiences. Conversions is not a one time event but a process of continuing spiritual growth. Although I did not always discern God’s will perfectly, at least I was usually seeking it; and God still blessed my efforts because my behavior and heart were in the right place. Ironically, only after the age of forty when I returned to the faith of my childhood, did I start becoming a real man.
As we struggle through life’s trials, It seems prudent to take necessary actions sooner rather than later, and get off the escalator ride down to the inevitable and impending disaster. Our help is truly in the Lord our God. If your life or relationships already look like disaster, take refuge in the Lord, and you will quickly discover that Christ really is the answer. Your problems will not suddenly dissolve, but you will gain peace and be able to find ways of dealing with problems as well as ways to revitalize and transform your life. Since the most important relationship that we can ever have in life is our relationship with the Lord, we should focus first on this most important aspect of our lives.
I believe that if we are truly honest with ourselves, we realize that we do not have all the answers in life. Even though each of us is a unique and wonderful human being, we have areas of our lives and personalities that need improvement. If we stray far from the path that leads to God, it becomes difficult to change those things, and in addition, we may not even be able to recognize what those things are. God has sent us His Son to show us the way and to help us transform into more perfect creatures. When we ask Jesus for help, he responds.
Our ultimate relationship goal is not just to have a great relationship with a spouse but first to have a strong personal relationship with Jesus–a relationship built on a Rock! This relationship can help guide us to heaven, which really ought to be our main purpose in life anyway. And, with Jesus as our foundation, great relationships then become possible, especially when He is invited into those relationships so that all we do becomes Christ-centered.
Special words or prayers are not mandatory for beginning or resuming your journey of faith. You may speak to the Lord from your heart. However, if you are looking for a place to start, begin with repentance. Below is a prayer of contrition as a guide.
© Joe Trainor 2017
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life.