There are so many stages in our relationships. Some never get beyond the introductory parts, while others continue growth in intimacy throughout a lifetime. Have you ever looked back on an important relationship and remembered that first, fresh, getting to know you phase? Sometimes it can be awkward and it’s often difficult, in my experience, to get from there to a deeper and more intimate stage of growth. Other times, relationships begin full of excitement and expectations, but never do progress beyond early stages.
When DH and I first met, we had a little background knowledge on one another; we’d had mutual friends and seen each other around campus. We had an economics class together. My roommate was constantly suggesting that we’d be a great couple, but I had no idea how right she was. The first phase of our relationship consisted mostly of him asking me to help with his homework, and me returning, confused, to my roommate and telling her, “I don’t get it. He understands this stuff. He doesn’t need any help.” I was clueless (it all seems so very obvious now!), but it can be difficult for two people to take a relationship from the starting point to, well, wherever it’s going.
This isn’t true only in marriage. I’ve seen it in some of my friendships as well. When we first moved to Texas, I remember spending quite a lot of time pondering how one is supposed to make friends after college. I honestly didn’t know where to begin. We’d meet people at church or Sunday school, but how did you go from knowing someone’s name to actually having a friend to confide in or spend time with? I don’t know what the answer is supposed to be, but I kept coming back to some vague idea of shared experiences. Somehow, before intimacy and true friendship develops, you need to be able to get out of the crowd and do things together–but how?
I have a dear friend here in Texas who happened to walk into Starbucks one day last spring while I was working on my Bible study homework. She and I had met in Sunday school, but this was the first time we’d seen each other in another setting. She had some free time and sat down at my table, and we spent a long time talking. At the time, we were getting ready to start the infertility treatments we needed, and she was going through a difficult time as well. Our conversation became deep really quickly and we’ve never looked back. The other day, she mentioned that this was the first time she had gone to that particular Starbucks, and that she hasn’t really been there since. I can only thank God for establishing that friendship!
There’s an ebb and flow in relationships, too. In different relationships it has different intensity. There isn’t a lot of “ebb” in my marriage, because, well, we’re together. Even when we’re busy, we’re both coming back to the same place nearly every night and the relationship keeps going. I have some friends I only spend time with or catch up with occasionally; most of them live in other parts of the country. But that ebbing, while it changes the relationship, is still, somehow, part of the relationship, too.
I’m not a relationship expert by any means. It’s not a field I’ve studied in depth. But I know that God said, very early on in this whole story of life, that it is not right for man to be alone. We have been created for relationship, and I’d like to spend some time exploring the concept.
The most important relationship in my life is between God and me. He’s never distant, but sometimes I am. He’s never losing touch or hard to get a hold of, but sometimes I am. He’s never the one dropping the ball or forgetting our dates or standing me up; when these things happen, it’s me. He’s never the one who needs forgiveness, but I’ve been angry with him before. He’s always on time, always available, and always interested; even though I’m not.
In the next few weeks, I’d like to write about how that relationship develops, how it changes, how it ebbs and flows, and how we can grow closer to God. I think it should always be a stepping forward, but in my experience, there’s often some backtracking, some unnecessary ebbing, involved. It’s not that I have any answers to how to make it better, but it’s something I want to explore and think about. The thing about important relationships is that they can often be the easiest to take for granted. How can we avoid that?
Are there topics related to this that you’re interested in exploring with me? How do you keep your relationship with God fresh and growing? Or what makes it most difficult for you to be intimate with him? Let me know in the comments; I’d love to explore these things with you.