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DTR: Define the Relationship!

Parenthood, childhood, friendship, courtship, engagement, marriage... All of these are forms of relationships. They are not mere titles or roles, but they are forms that relationships may take. Neither are they arbitrary, or easily changeable! There is no such thing as pure relationship...relationship that does not take a specific form. Every relationship is specific, and the ability to identify and cultivate the specific form of a relationship will determine the power of it either to heal or to destroy. Happiness happens when relationships are properly stewarded, grief is the result of a failure to properly steward relationships, and the failure to properly steward a relationship begins with the failure to properly define it.

The task of defining the relationship is the task of determining its purpose and therefore the responsibility of each party. For instance, if you are a parent, the purpose of your relationship with your child(ren) is relatively obvious. If you hesitate to correct/instruct/encourage/discipline/engage them because you're worried about overstepping your boundaries, you've misunderstood your responsibility in the relationship. But if you understand that you bear the responsibility to raise them properly and to shape their character, then you will rebuke them when they need to be rebuked, encourage them when they need to be encouraged, instruct them when they need to be encouraged, and you won't feel any angst about it because you're clear on your role and responsibility.

However, defining the relationship can also be a difficult thing to do. For instance, if you are a member of a local church your relationship with your pastor is not primarily a friendship. Your pastor has a responsibility toward you and you have a responsibility toward him/her. If you try to transform that relationship into a mere friendship you will miss out on the resources that that relationship is supposed to procure for you. The failure to properly define that relationship will ultimately lead to grief!

The most poignant context for misdefining relationships is within the complex of possible relationships between members of the opposite sex. It is essential for your present and future happiness that you properly define your relationships with members of the opposite sex so that you can be intentional about stewarding those relationships correctly! The failure to do so will lead to grief...to much grief...too much grief!!! So for God's sake, listen to what I'm about to say!

The most common mistake that single friends of the opposite sex make is allowing for long-term ambiguity in regard to the nature of the relationship. Have you ever been confused about how to define your relationship with a member of the opposite sex? Have you ever found yourself having coffee and thinking, "We're just friends, right?" Ambiguity happens when a male and a female develop a friendship that is more intimate than their other friendships with members of the opposite sex, yet not quite intimate enough to be called a "relationship." So what is it? Its not a friendship, its not a relationship...it can only be defined as a train-wreck waiting to happen!

Why is this the case? Because a relationship that cannot be defined cannot fulfill any specific purpose! Non-purposive relationships are also non-directional, and therefore aimless. If you are confused about the nature of your relationship with someone, confusion becomes the definition of that relationship...and a relationship characterized by confusion can only create confusion. The primary principle for the health of any relationship is the principle of clarity! If you are friends, be friends. If you are boyfriend and girlfriend, be boyfriend and girlfriend. If you are only friends but are acting like boyfriend and girlfriend, you are deceiving yourselves! But before you move into the dating/courtship stages too quickly consider what I have to say next.

The dating and courtship levels of relationship must fulfill a specific purpose as well, and that purpose is not simply to do away with your loneliness! Many people date just so they can have someone to date...so they don't have to be left out on Valentines night. Dating and courtship are not simply for the sake of the thrill of companionship. That mentality leads to debauchery. The purpose of dating/courtship is to move toward marriage. If you are not interested in getting married, you shouldn't be dating. If you know in your heart that a particular person is not marriage material, you have no business dating them!

Keeping this principle in mind will create boundaries in your thinking that will protect you from much grief. Pursue clarity, reject confusion, embrace responsibility. Do this and you'll find happiness!


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Author: admin
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