Psyche and Spirit
by Paul Werner
Our Need for Relationships
Restoration and Relationships
Relationship to God
Respect in Relationships
Reciprocity in Relationships
Communication in Relationships
Relationships within Marriage
Relationships within the Family
Let's be honest: we all have to fight, don't we? Fight the desire and the sheer temptation to fashion the world according to our own precepts. Within is that little voice which keeps assuring us that implementing our particular philosophy of life would surely make this world a better place for all to live. The appeal to "have it all" is overpowering. Secretly we feel we know better, and even if it is just in our mind, we like to lord over others what we "know" to be fact.
We might agree that the world does need more love, but idealism aside, there are days each of us surely feels we would rather not have to deal with the complexities which arise in our relationships. We rationalize that our problems stem from others, not ourselves, and that they are the ones who make life so difficult for us. We may feel that although the members of our family, our neighbors, co-workers, and fellow students are not actually "bad" people, their presence somehow complicates our life. Those people get under our skin, and we feel that life is unpleasant, because of them. Don't we sometimes go so far as to analyze that our unhappiness and dissatisfaction is actually their fault?
We might fantasize that we have the right to cast blame on others, but how real is such a perception? Living totally by ourselves might be a lofty ideal, but were we to satisfy it, sooner or later we would desire to break out of that imprisonment. We would find ourselves starving for companionship and love, and we would discover that for all their comforting potential books, music, television, or movies simply cannot fulfill our needs adequately or totally. We need something more.
Our Need for Relationships
Relationships. A powerful word. An almighty concept. But nurturing healthy ones is assuredly an arduous task. No matter how much we might try to deny it, our relationships-at home, school, work, and within the community-affect us deeply. Our temper might flare when even the smallest of incidents forces us to relinquish control over something we either desire, or feel we have license to govern. And when this involves people, is often when the real fireworks start! But most people learn quickly enough that they cannot play judge and jury over someone else's life without certain repercussions. If we are serious about creating healthy relationships built on mutual respect and cooperation, we cannot coerce others to do exactly as we please at all times. The backyard bully who grows up and keeps claim on his title might meet an even more brutish bully later in life, and then discover that all his previous deeds are backfiring on him.
What can we do about the relationships we cannot control, and which instead seem to control us? We are definitely influenced when the bus driver sees us running to catch the bus but purposely pulls away from the curb before we reach it. Aside from yelling at the next person we see, how might we respond? Negative emotions can definitely play a major role, but with a bit of forethought we could certainly reverse this trend. By remembering that our reaction will affect that other person, we could change a typical response into an atypical one: we could love, rather than fight back or seek revenge. In both the small and the large incidents of our life we actually set the stage. We direct the scene. And we end up in the starring role. Our attitude is the major factor determining the quality of the performance.
Relationships. Sometimes they bring us such joy and bliss. Sometimes they become bones of contention. Sometimes they boomerang. It is more than often the health of our relationships which promotes either our suffering or progress. Unless we nurture our bonds with other people, those associations could simply become stale and perhaps even torn. The burning question is how. How does one make healthy relationships?
Many people turn to professionals, and/or go toward a means of self-help. Therefore, when a psychologist or psychiatrist works with his patient, he often tries to find the underlying causes -- the why. Why the person hates his father, or why he suffers from an "Oedipus complex." It is generally the psychologist or psychiatrist who tries to dissect why and how the "chemistry" between ourselves and some people seems just right and thus relationships with them are easy to form, while other people get on our nerves. Why it is that we love being with some people, and that we want nothing to do with others, even preferring to avoid them if at all possible.
Psychology scans great vistas in its search for the answers to problems facing individuals, and most definitely broaches the area of interpersonal relationships. For the most part, it stops short of the spiritual horizon. Yet what goes on in the unseen world is more than an exchange of chemistry or emotions. Although we may not realize it, spiritual influence plays a great part in the forming or the dissolution of our relationships.
Restoration and Relationships
The pattern of disobedience created by our original ancestors caused distance between God and man, man and woman, and between brothers and sisters. And it perpetuates itself today, despite the fact that God continues to inject this world with His ideal: that true relationships which should exist between God and man, husband and wife, and among siblings and peers, in fact, virtually all relationships within a family and within the family of man, must be nurtured with love and finally restored. So much unnatural strain exists between people that it is hard to foster true honesty. Thus, we often opt to appease people, and instead of working on growing together by sharing our true feelings, we tell them what we think they want to hear.
Perhaps it is not often thought of in such terms, but even the relationship within ourselves needs work, for we must untangle the conflict existing within our mind and body. But man's relationship with the creation is not yet perfected; no matter how beautifully we may tend a garden, we human beings do not know how to work together in a way that can tend our world-weeding out that which is undesirable and planting seeds of positive reinforcement. The effects of our negligence are too easily recognized: cities still have slums, and the AIDS epidemic is far too prevalent. We might point an accusing finger at those in authority, but we cannot fail to recognize that at least partial responsibility lies with each of us. We have seen precious little in the way of exemplary parenting-and the understanding and love that should be generated between God and man, husband and wife, parent and child, or fellow human beings. We do not know how to relate based on true love, thus we suffer guilt and pain. We bear the load of hostility and anger, arid we work at just getting by. Many feel their cries to God for a solution go unheeded. Though we pray, hope, or even extend ourselves by serving others, the pain we experience within our relationships does not magically disappear. We need to keep hope so we then continue to search for salvation in yet another area-often turning to the material realm. But don't we really want to live-live with and for others, rather than sequester ourselves in our own little world. Don't we want to love others? Where and from whom can we learn how?
Relationships and Salvation
One of the common themes throughout the Principle is that for fallen man to be "saved;" he must personally resolve several basic relationships. This boils down to a restoration of the relationships between parent and child, husband and wife, and between brothers and sisters, and with the environment. The ramifications of doing so spill into all facets of an individual's life, for at every turn, man is confronted with the effects of his sinful nature.
From this vantage point arises the unseen and unknown psychology: what happened to our forefathers ultimately still affects each of us today. We are the last links in the chain of our ancestral history, and though we may not perceive this on a moment-to-moment basis, we are still very much connected to our ancestors. We, therefore, have much to accomplish in repairing any mistakes caused by their actions, even those committed by our original ancestors. This is commonly overlooked as a factor contributing to man's psychological predicament, thus the effect it has on the human psyche and spirit is generally not well perceived. It is not given credence by psychologists or other trained professionals who do not consider the need for spiritual salvation. They think mostly in terms of "salvation" taking the form of mental and emotional release.
There are few things that cause greater pain in life than broken friendships and relationships. The scars remaining from such wounds still ache years later, and may never heal. Loneliness was one tragic result of the Fall; warring and conflict, another. People who possess the gifts of great insight and intuition have realized that tremendous battles go on within their own heart and mind.
They realize the need to restore and heal interpersonal relationships, and especially how crucial it is that they reinforce and rebind their relationship with God.
Relationship to God
God has suffered since the time of the Fall; therefore, man needs to be aware mentally, emotionally, and spiritually that he has a part to play in solving even God's problems. The concept that God has problems might be unique, but we should think deeply about what God goes through daily. If we do, we could perceive that our relationship with Him still needs work, and that we must restore our true position as His child. But we should also recognize that Satan to whom we are still bound-actively tries to prevent this from happening.
To solve his relationship with God, there is ultimately no other place for man to turn but religion. All of us need a true example of how to do this, and that is what we search for. Evident within the songs and art man creates is that man, for all his potential, still feels a huge piece of the puzzle of life is missing. His soul is hollow; his actions and behavior reflect his longing to learn how to fill it. Many people turn to Christ, as they believe him to be the mediator between God and man. Yet despite man's attempt to cement a solid relationship with Christ, every individual is still handicapped by his own fallen nature. He is interrupted countless times by Satan's intervention. If he is not reminded time and again of important it is that man return to God, he may become discouraged and wonder if the struggle and pain is worth it, and whether it is accomplishing anything.
Many people conceive that the relationship one makes with Christ should be that of friends, but if Christ is ever to educate us about our Heavenly Father, even more importantly, man must look to Christ as a parent. In Jesus' own life can be seen the relationship between God and man as parent and child. We can learn much from Jesus' constant vigil of keeping his Father's word and hastening His will. But it is not simply a question of recognizing this; it is a dilemma which must be solved.
God's Need for Relationships
Have we ever considered that the extreme distance between God and man must have a detrimental impact upon God's own psyche and spirit? That lack of communication feels absolutely devastating to Him, as it does to us? While communication is a human need, it is also a divine need. Part of the hidden psychology of God is that He longs to communicate with us. Because we are bound to live in such a physically-oriented way, we often mistake the sound of His voice as nothing important, and do not even realize when He speaks to us. Perhaps God reveals Himself to us through our spouse, our superior or subordinate, our parent or child, our brother or sister. We just don't recognize the source of the words because we believe they come strictly from the person. We fail to sense there is a much deeper meaning behind them. We must recognize the ways in which God tries to communicate with us, but without reciprocal communication, how far will we actually get in restoring our relationship with God?
Respect in Relationships
All of our relationships need a cleansing, a burnishing from doubt and misgiving, from fear and apprehension. We need to employ both repentance and forgiveness-in front of God, but also in relationships with our parent, child, brother, sister, friend, educator, student, employer, or employee.
If we would only recognize the value of those people with whom we live and work year in and year out, our relationships with them would naturally deepen. So often we do not see beyond the external facade. We allow such feelings as hate, compassion, and even repulsion to surface, and then permit those emotions to rule the relationships. We may not realize that spirit persons are surely behind even our dealings with one another. How they affect us is something man generally neglects to probe.
Relationships and Resentment
One tragic fact of history -- past and present -- is that the governments of some nations enslave people. Citizens are given no freedom, and consequently little respect. Although those people who suffered under such a regime now live in the spirit world, they surely still feel resentment. They may try to either continue venting their frustrations, or resolve their feelings. But according to the principle of resurrection, they must do it by working with people on the earth. If we could recognize that some of the bitter feelings which seem to literally overtake us do not necessarily come from us alone, but are part of a longstanding problem -- either from our ancestors or other spirits working through us-- we would be better equipped to cope with our problems.
Resentment is a real emotion, and one not easily dissolved. A sincere apology can work certain miracles, but an individual person, a family, society, or even nation might not be humble enough to solicit forgiveness. Without this, though, it is nearly impossible for either silent or more vocal grudges to disintegrate.
Responsibility in Relationships
The Bible reveals that God blessed man with responsibility through His instruction to Adam and Eve to "fill the earth and subdue it." Because He asked man to assume dominion over the creation, God must desire that we generate true respect for the creation -- be that material goods, spiritual values, or people. Man does not know how to treat the universe correctly, and our flagrant misuse of the creation has resulted in such disasters as forest fires and pollution.
Likewise, there are definite repercussions when one man mistreats another. When an individual treats people well, he will receive positive feedback, for a natural, even unsolicited, feeling of loyalty and love ensues. Yet if an individual stifles another person's growth, bitter feelings might arise. Such action causes a reaction, although it, too, may be unsolicited, and one neither desired nor expected. It is better, then, to respect someone for what he is able to accomplish, rather than to downgrade his lack of achievements. If we find that all we do is pick holes in a person's character, we should examine ourselves and our motivation: are we perhaps partially to blame for the difficulties in the relationship because we expect too much from him? When we respect others, it can make a great difference to the quality of that relationship. When a person is affected by the words and/or actions of another, his fallen nature might cloud his outlook and behavior. It should come as no surprise that his ability to view the situation logically could also be impaired. He might then be unable to deal with the situation responsibly. Tragedies could be averted if people stopped to consider that they are actors in a never-ending story, One which has been reenacted throughout history. Satan is still vying for man's loyalty and love. What man must come to realize is that there can be a denouement and finally a conclusion to this painful history of the misuse of love, although to make it happen he will need courage and to exercise a sense of responsibility. God already does His own part, thus it is man who must resolve to do something about it.
Reciprocity in Relationships
Man needs to become more sensitive to others. Yet when someone says something which hurts him or rubs him the wrong way, he should guard against becoming hypersensitive to what could have been just an off-hand remark. We must remember the definite possibility that our ancestors and the ancestors of the other person are in conflict. We then should accept the responsibility of restoring rather than multiplying our feelings of animosity and resentment.
If people do not practice what they understand about tolerance about reciprocal trust and respect, they may constantly feel accused for not being loving enough. Many of us hold grudges. Some of us are such perfectionists, thus the love in our hearts is often forced to stand in the background. In order to make way for feelings of revenge which rush forth with vengeance, we are ready to attack and destroy the other person. Sometimes we wish we no longer had to even see the other person. Yet how often is the shoe on the other foot? When people are not patient with us, we become hurt and often react accordingly; our emotions can easily overpower our logic. Still, the relationships we have are important, even essential, for our personal growth. And no matter how healthy or unhealthy those relationships are, they still count. If for any reason we allow them to disintegrate, we no longer recognize how important they are for our development.
If we knew we had only a year or two to live, we would no doubt live very differently from the way we do today. We would look at people differently. We would look at ourselves from a whole new perspective, as well. But most of us feel we have a lifetime ahead of us. That is how we rationalize our behavior. That is why we are reluctant to live for others, and even for ourselves. Instead of planting seeds of possibilities and building relationships with others, we waste one day after another, often with little regard for our fellow human beings.
Sensitivity in Relationships
When we become overly tense, we should seek to discover the underlying causes. It may be that we have been offended by another; if that is the case, we should forgive him for his unkind words and hurtful actions. Yet if we notice a person is consistently insensitive to us or others, it is important to point this out to him, choosing the right time and place to bring up such an issue. If we afford genuine encouragement and love, he will most likely accept our guidance. We can show him ways that he could and should change, explaining that belittling and downgrading is not an effective way of educating someone concerning his faults. We must endeavor to express to him that in taking God's viewpoint, he would be able to see many more of the person's good points in addition to noticing those qualities which he should strengthen. Likewise, that it is a much more restorative action to treat others with the same sensitivity and respect we hope they will grant us. We should point out that a person of perfect love would automatically look for ways to benefit others rather than himself, whereas a fallen person tends to do the opposite.
Many times we don't acknowledge each others' needs. We might find it easy to chat about non-controversial things -- the weather, the latest news, and the like -- but delving into spiritual sharing is quite another thing. God did not mean for people to be lonesome throughout their journey of life. Socio-economic problems at times be the primary focus of our attention, but we should not neglect the fact that all of us also need people. Neither should we forget that to effectively construct the bridges that can span the distance between ourselves and others, all of us must acquire and then implement spiritual sensitivity.
Communication in Relationships
Anyone who does not relate to others will spiritually suffocate. We need people to whom we write and talk -- people to congregate with, people to think about, and even people to pray for. Yet how can we restore things with another and make them right after communication has broken down? The Principle explains that to generate unity, we need to beckon the assistance of God, and that without it, God is helpless to work. Anyone who views his relationships honestly cannot help but notice too many are still unresolved, too many gifts of heart still not acknowledged, and too many grudges still borne. All of us still often evade making the offering of forgiveness, but the inner tensions which arise from unresolved conflicts and broken relationships still flare up and need to be calmed.
We must make restitution somehow; we must reciprocate in some way. If we have lost track of a person whom we wronged in the past, a practical way of restoring the relationship is to resolve that conflict with a different person. If we have been nasty to someone, then we should be loving to someone else. Perhaps we tossed out our unpleasantness to another during a moment in which we were battling to overcome pride, jealousy, suspicion, or another manifestation of the fallen nature. However innocent we think we may be, we are nevertheless responsible for our actions. Someday our conscience may wake us up to the reality of what we have done; it is not something we can suppress forever. But at that point, part of the process will involve forgiving those who caused us affront, and even forgiving ourselves. If all people would do this, love would be reciprocated, and forgiveness tendered more automatically, something which would make a big difference in resolving any of our relationships which need working on.
Communication is a definite need. We long to share those things deep in our heart, but all too often, a prior experience of being misunderstood can make us less than forthcoming with either information or love. Despite any defense mechanisms we erect, we might hope and even come to expect others to burrow through our thick shell and discover the jewels within our heart. Yet how many people are skilled at or willing enough to do that? But relationships cannot be restored or unity fostered on the basis of no give-and-take.
Many people feel they have no one with whom they can make deep rapport. The listening ear that should be provided by parent, spouse, or friend must then be obtained for a fee, by going to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor. We need to confess our feelings, our doubts, and fears. We need to receive the element of understanding from another person. Problems in trusting another often stem from self-accusation. Because the family unit was corrupted by the Fall and is not yet universally restored, there is little true communication between the parents and children of most families, between brothers and sisters, or between husband and wife. We all want to form close bonds within our family; we long for our home to be a place where we can feel free, a place where all members of the family can freely speak about anything, and where we can be absolved of any wrongdoing. We need acceptance-to be brought into a circle of love, not shut out. For this to happen, too, we must learn and then practice real communication-in the process of restoring those lost relationships.
The quality of communication is also an important factor. If a person is weighed down with too much pressure and we either say or do something which to him feels like a "last straw;" he might explode. We might "accept" the reaction as a part of human behavior, yet often do not know how to contend with it.
We should dig deeper than the superficial reason that spurred it on, and try to discover what it is that bothers him -- the reason he suffers so, and what made him angry enough to blow up. In the moment, we often do not view the situation logically, or are unable to put things in the right perspective. Instead, we are affected by the event, and our own fallen nature erupts; too often we simply respond in like manner: we yell back. Such a response does little for a relationship other than cause division. The best reaction would be to absorb it, automatically forgive the person, and shower him with understanding and compassion.
What man might call "human nature" is partially the difficulty he finds in swallowing his pride and generously offering something to another or through another out of unselfish motivation. No matter how strongly our personal voice of conscience may speak to us, we often refuse to listen. As a result we may develop certain mental blocks which keep us imprisoned mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Whatever "crutch" people use-religion, psychological games, a tendency toward hypochondria, obsessions, and the like -- every human being has problems, and thus all of us need somebody to "lean on." The friendships and relationships we make and nurture can be such elements for us.
While it is essential to repent to God for any wrongdoing, we must not forget to make peace with those around us we may have hurt or even those who hurt us. If we are unable to forgive another of his mistakes, we ultimately become the loser. It may be that we are affected by the incident much more than he is. When we allow bitterness to foster within our heart, we might lose energy, love, and perhaps even a friend. If we can empathize with the person's difficulties and circumstances and genuinely forgive him, we ourselves become the recipient of mercy, for at that same moment, we brush against the tenderness of God's compassionate heart.
Even if we seek and receive forgiveness, we must realize that if a trust has been broken, the relationship is in need of repair. Often we behave out of disappointment or the frustration we feel toward people, which possibly might stem from the lack of love we suffered as a child. These reactions are outmoded, no longer appropriate to the situations we must deal with in the moment. Our task is to restore them, transforming our outlook by learning to once again trust in God and others. To do that, we must practice forgiveness and extend compassion to others, recognizing that we require the same. What we cannot forget is that mending relationships will also require fighting a spiritual battle. We might have to struggle against spirit persons who for some reason do not want to see a restoration of the relationship. They may do everything in their power to block our advances, but we have to become wise to their ways, and win the contest.
A person who has no friends might inwardly die. One may have numerous acquaintances, but it is not enough. If we love many people during our physical lifetime, we will automatically have many friends in the spirit world. We should, therefore, work on establishing relationships of eternal quality. Most often we are not prompted by such vision. Sometimes we live totally in the moment and ignore tomorrow. Sometimes we simply endure the pain that comes as a result of a broken friendship. We are not so ready to hurl away any stones that have accumulated in our heart, even though they hurt. They may feel uncomfortable, but we often push them aside and endure the constant dull ache that continues to plague us. This is because we are unskilled in the tactical warfare necessary to purify our hearts. Because we adjust to the pain, we don't know what we are missing. Perhaps it is partly ignorance and partly pride, but we might just feel that we alone must shoulder the total responsibility and cannot enlist anyone's help. How wrong we are. And how short-sighted. We .do not see from the eternal viewpoint; we cannot recognize that what we do in our every day life has great value-that what we bind here, we bind in heaven. That this truth is especially appropriate in the formation of our relationships.
To nurture our spirit and encourage its growth, we must be active now, not just once we live in the spirit world. Our spirit is alive at this moment, and either grows or stagnates-is eternally affected by what we do or don't do, even in restoring relationships which have become torn for any reason, or in making new friendships.
Friendship requires sensitivity. If we lack that essential quality, we might trample on the delicate buds of a new relationship. We need to become more acutely aware of the needs of others; how can we claim to know a person if we see him only superficially? How can we tell what is really taking place in his mind or heart? Usually we want to appear "perfect" in front of others, and thus conceal those aspects of ourselves that are most vulnerable to exposure. But when we use such "window-dressing;" there is less possibility that we will reveal our true nature to others. Not doing so can adversely affect the spirit and psyche of both individuals. If we are neither true to ourselves nor others, we will behave in ways that will also cause others to react differently from what we expect. Friends should not have to cover up in front of each other, rather they should discover the precious elements within each other.
When negativity, whether about a situation or person, clouds our vision, things seem distorted and without beauty. As our distance from God decreases and we come to see through His eyes, we will notice that everybody looks beautiful. Facial features and external appearance eventually diminish in importance; we then become able to discern the original purity and divinity within the person. Rather than judge someone who struggles, we will instead empathize with that person. Our desire will be to help heal his spiritual wounds, not inflict more.
The inability to forgive another may cause us to face a great obstacle, but one which is quite invisible. How do we deal with this situation? What code of ethics should we use? If we thought deeply about the ramifications, we would come to consider that the other person may be desperate for forgiveness, and that without it, his growth will be stunted. Let us reflect upon the many times we have caused offense to others. Fully apprised of our responsibility then, we should go to God, confessing the details of the situation and our feelings, and at the same time, discarding the grudge from our heart. We may not feel inclined to forgive one who grievously hurt us, but if we are confronted with such a stumbling block in our faith, we should review the many examples of God's unconditional love contained in the Bible. How can we, in good conscience, fail to forgive others, when God has so many times extended His loving forgiveness toward us? This is a point which psychologists or psychiatrists probably do not bring to their patients, yet which represents the crux of why we should be the one prepared to make the first step in healing a broken relationship, even if we did not originally break the trust. A measure of forgiveness can go a long way toward restoring a broken promise or wounded heart.
We have been created by God with a need for relationships. We naturally seek true friends with whom to share our love, and ease our aloneness. But we cannot expect friendship to develop without willingly extending our trust and respect, our heart and love to another.
To be eternally indebted to someone is not spiritually healthy. Rather, we should return equal value. We can generate a beautiful response by accepting love from a person, but we will become indebted if we continually take from another yet extend nothing in reciprocation. Whatever we receive, we should return to another. If all people could do that, so much tension and hatred would dissipate, and Satan would have no grounds to relentlessly accuse the way he does.
To have a friend, we must first be a friend. We need to examine what the term "friend" means to us and then convey it to the other person. And then we should listen to the way that other person defines the same word. Once we can truly fill his needs and his expectations, he will no doubt also listen for our "heartbeat" and do his best to fill our own needs.
The totality of God is immense. Each of us is one cell in the body of God, therefore none of us can live totally alone. To contribute to the overall survival and health of this body, we have responsibility for all the other cells. If we deprive any person of the love rightfully due him, we are ultimately accountable. The whole universe is constructed in such a way that all beings are interconnected and interrelated. We "are the world"-responsible for each other, and most definitely interdependent. No entity need suffer if everything functions correctly based on a give and take of love. Why, though, is that so hard for us to remember and act upon?
Can anything or anyone be totally "independent?" Everyone depends upon someone, on something. We are, most of all, dependent upon each others' love, for the purpose of life is to love. God has instrumented the network of relationships as a way of reaching and loving all people. Yet if we shirk that responsibility, others might not receive the love they deserve.
There are so many tiny things keeping us apart -- small but trivial things, which we often make out to be mountains, instead of the molehills they are. Some families have vendettas, which continue for generations. One family stays pitted against another, and after awhile, nobody remembers what started the feud in the first place. Beginning over such minor infractions, the resentment felt by each side seems to snowball through the years. What is perhaps overlooked is the possibility that spiritual beings fuel the fires of dispute, and cause emotions to become more heated. Those people have forgotten that the sharing of love and understanding and the need to establish a mutual respect as friends could change their feelings, for as much as they wish to deny it, in fact, they are dependent upon one another.
We waste so much time when we behave childishly and selfishly by becoming consumed with building our own little kingdom. Too often we close the door to our heart and refuse to work on our relationships. Because of such an attitude, we might not understand why others cannot relate to us, and then still cast the blame on them. We claim we suffer, yet when we cut ourselves off from others, we deprive them of love, and at the same time, we prevent it from coming to us. We limit ourselves, and in the process could become narrow-minded and self-serving. If we withdraw and act moody, or selfish and touchy, just wanting to gain but not wanting to give, then although we deprive others, we mostly deprive ourselves-of growth.
Satan always tries to keep us apart from one another. Creating friendships is important, and the concept may be appealing, yet people continue to walk past each other, rather than toward each other. They live beside each other, but not with each other. We can consider ourselves fortunate if we have another family with whom we walk through life, whom we can truly consider our friends, and if need be, is willing to stand in for us, even with their lives. But that level of loyalty does not come easily or automatically.
What kind of relationships do we have? Do we always practice what we preach? Do we tend to see the obstacles and shortcomings of those around us rather than the beautiful things? Sometimes there is great distance wedged between us and a certain person because we feel a certain animosity toward him. The longer we live with that person, the more we reject him, and the more we become disgusted or even repulsed by certain behavior. His habits are not what we expect, and not in line with our standard. If indeed that person goes against our grain, how much more energy it takes for us to love him! Yet it is still our responsibility to do so.
Sometimes in the work place people try to spite one another out of jealousy, suspicion, or because they are spurred on by the desire to get ahead. If we refuse to succumb to the temptation to return the "favor," and instead prove to them that neither are we weak nor will we give in no matter how much they may persecute us, after awhile, they will capitulate. No matter how tough the going gets, we still need and thrive on relationships with people. We absolutely are interdependent.
What will count when we get to spirit world? Our smile? A handsome physique? That we know how to dress or apply makeup? No. It is what we have done either for the good or the detriment of our fellow human beings. What will really matter is what we have done for God, and how much love we have expended. Things that we might feel are especially important now will contribute far less to our spiritual stature than we think. People definitely feel they should love, but find it so hard to do. There is an emptiness each of us feels in our heart, and thus we do whatever possible to fill that hole. A person like Mother Theresa has attempted to provide for hers in a different way from someone like Al Capone. We make the choice this very day, this very moment. What we need to do is to realize that now, before it literally becomes "too late."
Relationships within Marriage
The ideals God has for marriage are so different from the ones we find espoused by many couples. Those couples experiencing great marital difficulties might feel the need to go to someone for help. Marriage counselors, sex therapists, and psychologists try to assist couples rebuild trust and love; they might consider it their job to patch broken hearts, but what tools should they use? They might latch onto superficial things, but find little that will heal. They feel at a loss as to how to help. They might note that marital struggles seem to afflict one generation after another. Statistics show that many of the men and women who come from broken homes themselves become separated and/or divorced. But they wonder, as do the rest of us, how this trend can be stopped.
Misdirected love resulted from the Fall, and it was that action which separated man from God. Unless love is now re-directed according to God's desire, man cannot be saved physically. The Principle determines salvation must come through the cleansed and purified lineage of the Messiah, and that this will be the starting point for a new mankind.
Since the time of Adam and Eve, mankind has been searching after true parents-those people who could show us the true nature of our God. For it is they who can impart the understanding of how we are to become true children, true spouses, and true parents according to the word of God, rather than the laws of Satan. Man longs for an example to show him how to make marriage and family life work; most people do not realize that restoring these most precious relationships is our ultimate salvation.
Even though countless marriages end in heartbreak and divorce, people still yearn to find their ideal mate. Perhaps unbeknownst to them they are at the same time also seeking the presence of God in their lives. Many have not learned how to discover God within another person, thus they go from relationship to relationship. They fail to seek the guidance and assistance of God to work out the difficulties they encounter in their marriage. Consequently, the divorce rate in the world is staggering. People look for what they think they want in a spouse, only to discover much later that what they found was not what they actually wanted or needed.
We may feel that many of our neighbors are such idyllic families. What we do not see is what goes on behind closed doors. All couples, all families in the world experience struggles at one time or another. Unfortunately, some men and women give up even trying to make their marriages and family relationships work. Some partners lack a common goal upon which to focus, or a common base in which to invest. Though it is natural that their energies and thoughts will be different, perhaps they are unmindful of either God's or their spouse's needs. If the element of mutual trust is built, their relationship could grow.
It takes a lot of sensitivity not to injure our partner. If we do inflict harm, any resulting wounds take a long time to heal. The hills or mountains in the marriage relationship have to be climbed or in some way leveled out. For the most part, individuals are somewhat selfish, and this tendency most definitely affects the relationship. If we are honest with ourselves, we will know if we are the one who is more loving, or the one who is loved more. The problem is, most times each partner thinks he is right. Yet coming before our mate in humility would do a great deal to iron out any difficulties we experience.
Engaging in free sex can drastically change a person's life in a negative sense. Feelings of disrespect can easily creep into such a relationship, yet the partners might suppress any notion that they are making a mistake. Little honesty might be exchanged, thus nothing is resolved, no unity is achieved, and people stay apart spiritually. From this can sprout infidelity, separation, and divorce, and as a result, many psychological ills.
It takes time and practice to consciously bring God into every aspect of marriage. We cannot expect to enjoy the marriage relationship without making some investment, and even enduring some pain. If we enter into marriage with unrealistic expectations of our partner or of marriage itself, we may become greatly disappointed. Love needs time and patience to develop, and it grows to maturity by going through many stages. When we invite God to participate in our married life, we definitely take steps in restoring Adam and Eve's failure to do so.
Relationships within the Family
God planted His hopes within the ideal of a family. He desired that all members of a family would be afforded stability, security, and a sense of worth. He planned the family as the most basic instrument through which morals and ethics could be taught. He envisioned that members of a family would engage in free and open discussions and share their love naturally. But Satan stepped in at the beginning and has done much damage to the family, ripping it apart through divorce, and further ravaging it by widening the generation gap. There are spouse and child beatings, runaways, children who are slow learners. There are parents and children alike who are depressed or neurotic. Who cares for all these people? More and more societies are horrified by the rise in suicide. No nation escapes the tragic harvest of Satan's labor. While society looks at this and shakes its head in disbelief, at the same time it tries to shun responsibility for it. Parents feel that teachers should help children learn more about life at school. Teachers, however, feel it is the responsibility of the parents. The battles continue, but it is the child who gets caught in the crossfire.
One of the important obligations an individual has is that of providing "true parenting" for his children. The kind of reinforcement parents give to their children will greatly determine whether those children will have a positive or negative self-image. Parents should try to help their children actualize their talents, encouraging them to study and find hobbies. Parents cannot help but see that their child's behavior reflects the example they themselves give. Juvenile delinquency is on the rise, something partially the result of delinquent parenting.
The parent-child relationship is central to man's growth and development. Modern psychology has discovered that many of our problems as adults stem from disorders within this crucial relationship. It is a recognized fact that the training or "programming" a child receives in the first few years of life remains with him, even molding his adult perceptions. This indicates the tremendous responsibility parents have to be exemplary; a parent's own habits and attitudes greatly influence his child. Today, there are children who tell their parents to shut up. What kind of world has this become? This is a classic example of the fallen nature: dominion has been reversed. Rebellion among young people is so common now, and the "generation gap" still abounds. We have to turn this around -- to restore proper relationships within the family.
God has been working to restore the family as the arena in which each member could relate according to true love. That standard can be given through true parents. It is through them that man can be engrafted into the lineage of God. All people can learn God's ways, and restore their relationships once they are shown a true example of Him. This will have impact upon other aspects of their life -- from their potential, to their identity, to their behavior. So many parents in today's society have given insufficient love and protection to their children. Their children cry out for real love, often becoming dissuaded by sex and drugs which offer some kind of acceptance, or pseudo-fulfillment. We should recognize that we are the product of our upbringing; were we well cared for? Were we loved? Did we have to fight our emotional battles alone, or did our parents help us? It is most important that parents know what is right and wrong in the sight of God, and then teach this to their children.
No other force but the force of love can bind a marriage, a family, and all other relationships. The Bible reminds us: "Blessed are the peacemakers." We must regain peace with our God. Part of that is to discover inner peace, and cultivate peace between ourselves. In the process of peacemaking, resentment will dissolve, and we will be infused with the life force and true love of God.
The heart of every human being is a battleground still used by God and Satan to wage war. But we must work on our relationships-mending them, restoring them to be the bonds God originally intended us to make, through which He could love and care for us.
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