Authentic Relationships

Experience Joy beyond the Surface

flower petal on water's surface

As a college student, I find that my life is characterized by a constant whirlwind of activity. Moving through my day, I am always surrounded by friends, classmates, and professors. But I rarely take the time to get to know these people beyond the surface level. In fact, I could probably recite most conversations I have as if I were reading off a script.

The way the Bible talks about relationships, though, is vastly different from the reality I so often experience. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Being in relationship with others should make everyone stronger and draw everyone involved closer to God. How can we begin cultivating these iron-sharpening-iron relationships?

Start with honesty. When someone asks how you are, it is OK to admit that you are stressed out, scared, or overwhelmed. Moving past surface-level responses, even to basic questions, breaks down the shiny façade we often present to others. This step is so vital to forming authentic relationships that build up one another in Christ.

Authentically Honest Relationships

three young women

Recently, one of my friends reached out to me after a few months of us not really contacting each other. Nothing bad had happened between us, but a period of change had come upon us in the form of moving homes, towns, and churches. It’s easy to lose touch with someone we don’t see on a regular basis. We like to convince ourselves that the smartphones ever attached to our hands keep us connected with others. But truthfully, it becomes so much easier to give a person a passing thought (“Oh, I should text her soon.”) and then go about our days until a few months have passed and we wonder what could have happened to the time.

My friend was a bit offended that she hadn’t heard from me since the “Big Move,” and I didn’t blame her. Promises of keeping in touch and hanging out were made but not kept, as they should have been. Instead, I told myself that she was really busy moving and acclimating to a new time in her life so I should give her a little breathing room. And honestly, I had several not-always-pleasant changes going on in my life as well.

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