Relating: Our Principles Defined
I heavily guard my emotions until I determine if you are a safe person with whom to share. I wait to see, “are you trustworthy?” “Are you kind?” “Are you going to protect what you find out about me?” I like to think of this mentality like a carefully protected container of eggs. When you begin to interact with me, you bring a new container to my life. I carefully place one egg, from my protected container, into the new container you are presenting to me. And then I step back, watching, waiting to see what you do with the “egg” I just gave you. Will you treasure and care for what I gave you? Or will you shake the container, cracking open the egg, letting its contents fall to the ground? I expect you to shake the container. This is how I relate.
Our interactions make and show connections with those around us. Some of those connections are beautiful and filled with life. Other connections are filled with suspicion and self-protection. Volumes upon volumes of research, journals, books, sermons, songs, poems and movies are filled with ideas surrounding the beauty, life, suspicion and self-protection of our relationships. But what if, just for a moment, we decided to bravely give a new person just a bit of our story, and accept just a bit of their story in return? Taking one egg out of our carefully protected containers, and placing it into this new person’s basket. This single step, entrusting another human with just a bit of your story, stops the movement away from them, and helps you take a step back toward relating with them.
Imagine for a moment, a noisy room full of insistent people, all loudly trying to argue their position. Perhaps you have a pertinent item of experience you need to communicate to this room full of chaos. The moderator silences the crowd, and beginning with your otherwise drowned-out voice, he says, “Your experience is needed here, it’s important. Please, feel free to speak now.” When we give a person a bit of our story, we give them the chance to say to us, “That bit of your story is important.” When we listen, we tell others, “Your experience is important, please continue to speak.”
Relating is looking for the image of God in those where it’s not readily obvious, knowing that others will do the same for our own abrasive moments. Relating with others attempts to tear down barriers between us, and instead builds a place for relationship. Relating is a movement toward another human being, doing our best to break down emotional barriers, honoring and delighting in the image of God present in them.
Mission1Race is very aware that not all relationships are safe, and that often you are safer when there is distance, such as in the case of violence and abuse of any kind; sexual, physical, spiritual, and emotional. We are not talking about entrusting an abuser with parts of your story. We are addressing relationships between those that are reasonably expected to honor and delight in who you are, and you to do the same for them…. Most of the time. Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.