The Two Most Important Relationships You Will Ever Have

 

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Meet Amanda.

Amanda has a good life. She has a husband, three kids, family and friends who love her.  She has a career, an active social life, is involved in her church and volunteers in her community.

But look closer.

Why priority is important in relationships

In reality, Amanda is frazzled and overwhelmed. She struggles with anxiety about many things, constantly doubts herself, fights feelings of insecurity about her capabilities, her looks, her weight and so on.

Amanda has a hard time saying “no” to people. She’s stretched thin — too many responsibilities and not enough time. She never gets enough sleep. It’s hard for her to delegate things. She feels resentful toward her husband because he doesn’t help her enough. But she doesn’t know how to talk about it without getting angry. She loves her children but worries about them all the time. She feels like a failure as a Christian because there’s just no time to spend with God.

Are you Amanda?

Make God your biggest priority

Every now and then Amanda permits herself to see her true state. She acknowledges that she needs to make changes, needs to live with greater intention. Not just go through the motions. Then she closes her eyes…and walks away.

She’s afraid.

What if she tries to change and fails?

What if she changes and her husband/kids/family/friends/colleagues won’t support her?

What if she can’t afford the financial costs those changes require?

What if she ends up alone…and lonely?

What if that inner voice that tells her she’s just not good enough is actually true?

Does this sound too much like you? Are you afraid to change?

Is fear of change controlling your life?

Life is about relationships. They are essential to our well-being in so many ways. They keep us connected. They give us support, as well as balance and a healthy perspective on things. But not all relationships are equal.

Think of your relationships like pyramid, not a continuum. A pyramid has hierarchical levels, whereas a continuum is a straight line.

When your relationships are on a continuum, you’re  more likely to treat them as though they’re all equal in value. And typically the ones that speak up the most are the ones who get the most of your time (whether you intend for them to or not).

 

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But a pyramid allows you to differentiate between relationships. The top of the pyramid is your most important relationship, then the next, then the next…and so on. The time you invest in each relationship needs to be prioritized accordingly.

Which relationships are the most important?

1.  Your relationship with God

The only true source for figuring out your life purpose is God. Only He can secure your ultimate future, the one beyond this lifetime. When you think about living intentionally, think about Him first.

Life is short, but it’s what comes after that’s so significant. Investing in your relationship with God lays the foundation for building a meaningful life and helps prepare you for what’s beyond (Matthew 16:19-20). Without Him you’re just spinning your wheels. Pursuits that don’t put God at the top (and center) are ultimately empty; they may bring fleeting moments of pleasure that resemble happiness, but you can’t sustain them.

If your relationship with God is at the top of your pyramid, then His influence ripples out and touches all your other relationships in a positive way.

But what does having a relationship with God look like?

A client told me recently, “I pray to God a lot, but I don’t really know if I’m doing it right. It’s not like we’re told how.”

Actually, we are. Check out Matthew 6 for some great guidelines and a model prayer. It’s not something to memorize and use repetitively, but rather an example of things to talk with God about. Most important, however, is to remember that praying is communicating. Every time you share with God your hopes, dreams, hurts and fears, you are building your relationship with Him. Every time you open His Word and read, you are listening to His hopes, concerns, plans and joys towards you and others—you are allowing Him to communicate back.

Setting time aside to specifically be with God, however, doesn’t mean that the rest of your day continues on without Him. Bring God with you into all your other priority relationships by meditating and reflecting on how He wants you to treat others (and watch those relationships flourish as a result).

  2.  Your relationship with yourself

You matter.

You matter because God says you do. 

You matter because God has plans for you—BIG plans.

You matter because there are people in your life who love you and need you to be healthy, in every possible way.

That means you need to take care of yourself.

Having a holistic approach to health is about recognizing

the connectedness between mind, body and spirit.

When one area is weak, the others are negatively impacted.

How healthy are you?

If you want to be healthy, it starts with you. That means taking care of yourself: having spiritual, mental, emotional and physical well-being.

 

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Let’s get back to Amanda. She struggles with self-care because she thinks she’s being selfish. If she takes time for herself then that means she’s neglecting someone else’s needs, right?

Wrong!

Part of her frustration is that she keeps waiting for her family: to respect her, see her needs and take care of those needs. It’s really not their job to do that. It’s hers.

Amanda wants to be respected by her family. But her husband and children need to see her respecting herself. She does that by recognizing that self-care is essential to intentional, purpose-driven living. After all, if the God of the entire universe (and beyond) wants to have a relationship with her then, she must be precious to Him. If she’s precious, then she must be worth taking care of.

Back to the pyramid: when it comes to the two most important time investments this is the ideal—God first, then you.

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If Amanda were to be honest about her pyramid, she would have to admit that although she talks about God needing to be first in her life, in reality she struggles to find the time to pray and study. She wants to, but she has a lot of excuses. She’s too tired, there are too many demands on her time, she doesn’t know what to say to God and she’s afraid He’s too disappointed in her to listen anyway.

Her inability to see the value she has in God’s eyes keeps her from placing value on her own personal well-being. So as a result, her pyramid has collapsed. Amanda gives and gives to others, and wonders why she’s now feeling resentful.

Her children and her job take up a large part of her day. She and her husband hardly talk about anything except the kids, bills and day-to-day routine things. She’s too exhausted for intimate conversation, or sex, most of the time. She knows he feels neglected. But what can she do?

Amanda’s pyramid might look something like this:

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So before Amanda can effectively prioritize all her other relationships, she needs to turn her pyramid upright and establish better boundaries around her top relationships. That’s what the lines that designate each relationship within the pyramid represent— the boundaries that separate them. Without healthy boundaries, what happens to the pyramid? It collapses into a flat line and now all our relationships are back on that continuum. Once again it becomes hard to distinguish who (or what) matters most.

When Amanda has healthier boundaries she won’t let other things get in the way of the time she has dedicated to being with God, or the time she has prioritized for self-care and personal wellbeing. The positive effects of devoting time to her two most important relationships will flow down and nurture her other relationships.

What about you? Do you see your value—your worth—through God’s eyes? Or is your pyramid inverted?

Try turning it upright. Let God know He’s first by making time for Him throughout your day. Learn to say no to others who want to encroach on your other relationships. Give the best (and most) of your time to your top priorities. Remember that in order to give to others you must take care of yourself first.

If you intentionally make changes (even small ones) in the way you structure your day, you can and will be successful—and the rewards will be substantial!

 

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