I’m a public relations major. Well, I guess I was a public relations major (alumna status is weird, y’all). Point being, people often ask me why I chose this field of study. Typically I have two answers to give.
I was asked in an interview a few weeks ago how I would establish, nurture and maintain relationships. It was my favorite question that I’ve ever been asked in an interview. “Relationships are the cornerstone of who I am,” was the sentence that led my response. I had never said that before and I don’t remember stringing those words together in my mind before I heard them come out of my mouth. But they were so true and so captivating of my heart and who I am.
I can remember in middle school, having my first “mean girls” experience. The thing that hurt the most wasn’t that someone had gone out of their way to hurt me, it was that I had gone out of my way to fix things, and no one seemed to care. That was the first time my mom ever told me, “Sarah, your heart cares about people.” Those words have stuck with me and have so often helped me to make sense of my emotions and actions, especially when it comes to relationships.
I often find myself in a place of having to remind myself that people view relationships differently, and therefore function in them differently. Have you ever heard of the five love languages? If not, I encourage you to find what yours is and read all about them here (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/).
Most people have multiple love languages. My first one is “words of affirmation.” Basically this can be summed up by saying that, for me, actions don’t always speak louder than words. I’ve been in relationships and had friendships with people who thrive on the opposite notion—that actions always speak louder than words. As you can imagine, these different views can make for a difficult time. So often I have to make a conscious effort to take a step back and look at the other person’s love language. I may be waiting to hear them say something I feel is necessary—a conversation that I want to have. But they may be waiting for me to do something—to take an action toward resolving the problem at hand.
That example may seem pretty simple, and I’ll admit that the concept is simple too.
People love differently, so we must love people differently.
But taking that concept and applying it to our relationships can make a dynamic impact. And in the process, we practice Christlikeness. We abandon what we want and what we think we need and put the hearts of others before our own. We sacrifice our desires in order to let someone else feel loved, cared for and known. People will see Jesus in that, and your relationships will thrive because of it. Will it be easy? No, not always. Stepping into someone else’s shoes and seeing things from a point of view that’s not your own isn’t always fun and is rarely easy. But lean into Jesus. Ask for understanding, patience and a desire to love how He loves--unconditionally and selflessly. Because if we are called to be like Christ, and Christ is love, then we are called to practice a love like His.
1 John 4:16 - And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in them.