Wednesday, May 15, 2013

RORI: Return on Relationship Investment

I'm on the "other side" of a dating relationship and as I've reflected on it, I've realized that I'm ready to invest a lot in relationships. I recently read Beyond Boundaries by John Townsend and it's a follow up to Boundaries for people who have done a lot of hard work implementing healthy boundaries and are ready for the next "phase". To say that I have done a lot of hard work implementing healthy boundaries might be the understatement of the year.

In BB, I learned that risk-taking is good and that being vulnerable with someone to increase intimacy is always a risk, because the other person is free to walk away/not reciprocate. In this last dating relationship, we started out focused on vulnerability but once we achieved a certain level of closeness, he seemed to want to "cruise". Certainly two people cannot constantly be going to a deep level and trying to grow the relationship--there need to be fun, easy times (a lot of them, I say). But in his book, John says the going deeper times should happen about once a week, where two people check in on their relationship. And I felt that. I wanted to goof around, flirt, make jokes and hear about work/fun stuff, but if we weren't having a good, relationship oriented conversation 1x a week, I began to feel disconnected.

The end of the relationship came after many weeks of my asking for more connection, him "understanding" and making some effort, but then going back to short "check-ins" and unemotional conversations. I realized I couldn't keep investing in something/someone who didn't produce a return. That was a really hard choice to make. I cared deeply for him and was extremely encouraged and hopeful during the first couple/few months of dating him. But I felt that he wanted to cruise along on the fuel from our past connecting conversations/time together. And that just didn't work for me. I need more than that in a loving relationship.

And that makes me think of my relationship with God. I've been really blessed with new friendships in the last year and I take time to nurture them. They haven't grown into the deep, trusting relationships that they are just by chance. No, I've tended to them like a garden. I pursue them and nurture them (this is, by the way, how I'd like to be treated in a dating relationship), and make time for them. So when Beth Moore wrote in Breaking Free that we can't rely on our past relationship w/ God for the present or the future, I totally got what she meant. I have had deeply emotional, soul-stirring, life-changing times/seasons with God where I think I am forever changed to be so very close to Him-always. And after a little while, I want to cruise. Because it's hard work to pursue a relationship with someone who doesn't always give instant gratification. So I skip a few days of time in the Word. I stop getting up early to pray and meditate on Him. And before I know it, I feel less connected to Him, my thoughts are more worldy/self-focused, and I'm wondering what the heck happened.

I can't rely on my past relationship with God to stay connected with Him.

And if I want to go really, really deep with Him (and, oh, I do!), I need to nurture and tend to our relationship like a garden. It needs daily care. His Spirit prompts me all morning to spend lots of time with Him in His Word and in prayer. I can say yes, or I can say no. When I say yes, the return is greater (by far) than my investment. When I elect to cruise, I'm the one who misses out.

I guess the moral to this story is that a relationship with God always produces a high return on relationship investment.


karl said...

you are awesome! what a great concept, rori-
thanks for modeling such steadfastness and maturity. sorry for the heartbreak, happy for the maturity!

Erin said...

Karl, thanks--you are totally awesome too. thanks for always being a true friend.