By Renita Collins
Our relationships with one another have a tremendous impact on our quality of life. You cannot live an optimized life without healthy relationships. When a person is on their death bed, they do not ask for more things; they ask for people. Our relationships with one another are one of life’s greatest assets.
Nonetheless, first attractions are not enough to form long-lasting bonds. Bonds that endure require effort; they are built over time. I have identified several building blocks that will help form healthy relationships. If you can master these things in your marriage and other personal and professional relationships, you will greatly enhance your life.
Submission means to voluntarily place oneself under the authority of another. Submission is an attitude; it is a matter of the heart. There is a difference between submission and relenting. One is voluntary; the other is forced. Submission is strength under control. It is like a yield sign. You yield the right of way to the other person. It is a choice.
Submission is like a strong foundation underneath a house. You cannot see the foundation, but it allows the house to keep standing and enduring the outside elements. In a marriage or any relationship mutual submission must take place. You were not meant to compete with your spouse but to help them. Your gifts and strengths were meant to help, not hinder. Use your skills to enhance your union and not tear it down.
There is a difference between giving and lending. When you give, you expect nothing in return. When you lend, you expect to be paid back, sometimes with interest. Your attitude is different towards someone to whom you give as opposed to someone to whom you lend. Love is to be given unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. This is the foundation of all healthy relationships. If both people are giving without expecting anything in return, no one will lack.
Your spouse should be your number one ongoing research project. You should know their strengths, weaknesses, fears, and joys. It is often said that women are difficult to understand. But when a husband has done his “research,” he will know the best way to properly nourish and care for her. Understanding your spouse is not as difficult as you may think.
Meekness is not weakness; it is power under control. It comes from a Greek word that means consideration. Are you considerate of others? Do you find it difficult to step back and attempt to look at circumstances from the perspective of others and not just your own? Even when you think you are right, are you willing to listen and consider another’s point of view? Successful leaders in the home, business, and community will listen to others’ points of view before giving theirs. This says to their team, “I value you.” Meekness is consideration, power under control.
In the Greek, the word longsuffering literally means “long-tempered,” the ability to endure discomfort without fighting back. Longsuffering cannot be experienced apart from love. We must bear with one another. We are all on a journey toward maturity. Are you willing to bear with others as you would hope others would bear with you?
6. Endeavoring to Keep Unity
In Ephesians 4:3 (NLT), Paul tells the Christ followers, “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” This is a continuous work. It is easy to say “I do” on your wedding day, but what about when his underwear and socks are all over the floor, or the house is a mess, or you are in a heated argument? It is easy to love that baby in the crib smiling at you, but what about that teenager who challenges everything you say or that adult child that seems to be living contrary to everything you have taught them? Relationships require ongoing work. It is a constant endeavor, and each person involved has a responsibility to maintain and guard the unity of the relationship.
In our society, we tend to shy away from words like submission, meekness, and longsuffering. But once we understand their true definition and value, then we can begin to build healthy relationships on a firm foundation with sturdy materials built to last.
Jesus encourages us to walk in unity with each other. He is our example. The way we treat each other should be a direct expression of our gratitude to God for His grace, mercy, and love toward us. As we do this, we ultimately bring glory and honor to Him.
About the Author
Renita Collins currently serves as an executive pastor alongside her husband, Frank Collins Jr., who is the senior pastor of Breath of Life Christian Church in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. She is a mother of two and the author of two books, 31 Days of Focus and Persevere. The Collins family resides in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.