We place a lot of value on building relationships. It’s important to us to have good, solid and meaningful relationships with the people in our lives, whether it be friends, children or significant others. I was thinking about this process of building relationships to try to see how it really happens – what are the tools we need to do this. And it occurred to me that I was probably other thinking it. Relationships are something we just do, not think about. It comes naturally – to most of us. But if I wanted to be more deliberate in approaching someone or starting from scratch how would I build that relationship.
The tools are fairly simple. We spend time with each other – we “hang out” and talk. We share our thoughts, feelings, desires and dreams. We listen to the other to learn what makes them tick, what’s important to them, what they care about. Depending on the type of relationship, we may tell them how nice they look or how much we appreciate them or how much we love them. When we are with them we try to think about what would make them happy or just enjoy their presence without being demanding or self-focused. It’s really about sharing our lives with them and learning to receive back from them their affection and acceptance of us.
So these tools of relationship building are effective, powerful and common to all our relationships. I think they also apply to our efforts at relationship building with God. Now I’m not suggesting that God is on an equal footing with our best buddy. I don’t want to underestimate His Majesty and “other-ness.” He is not like us in many ways, but to develop a deep and genuine relationship with Him means using the same tools. The problem is that when applied to God, we’ve given these tools names that are laden with expectations, guilt and toil. Instead of sharing our thoughts, feelings and desires with Him, we call it prayer. But it becomes a burden. Instead of listening to learn what is important to Him, we call it Bible study and it becomes a duty. Instead of telling Him how much we appreciate Him, we call it worship and it becomes a performance. Maybe it’s time to rename these “power tools”, or, at least, remove all the baggage we’ve attached to them.
Our Father wants to hang out with us and show us how trustworthy and approachable He really is, if we would only use the tools we already have and used all our lives to build that relationship.