|(picture from grandhaventribune.com)|
Here in America, we regularly sit in front of our televisions or other internet accessing devices, to watch the leader of our great country expound on the state of affairs under his control. We call this the State of the Union Address.
Here in the Williams’ household, my husband and I occasionally sit down and discuss the state of our union. This fall we’ll celebrate thirty-seven years of a terrific marriage and, no doubt, this educational discussion plays a role in that longevity.
But let’s expand further. Every relationship we’re in is a union. What’s the state of those unions? Some are in disrepair and in much need of an overhaul. But, where do we start?
It’s hard to work on any relationship when only one of the parties in the union is aware that there are problems; perhaps impossible. One spouse doesn’t make the marriage work. There are plenty of marriages where one spouse (or perhaps both) is “putting up with” the other without saying a word. So, in name, the marriage exists, but the relationship is not “working”. In order for it to work well for both parties, information on the state of affairs needs to be communicated back and forth.
The same is true about all relationships, be it parent/child, boss/employee or friend to friend. In order for both parties to benefit fully from the relationship, it needs to work for both of them. Now, in a boss/employee relationship if the boss is getting what he’s paying for and the employee is content with what he’s being paid, in essence it’s working for both of them. Perhaps that’s all the relationship necessary. However, the more disclosure there is about what’s expected from each party, the more satisfactory the relationship will be.
In many relationships, we assume what’s expected of us; and we assume the other party knows what we expect from them. Not so. We all know what happens when we assume. Yet, we continue to do it.
This may be a lame example, but, if I assume Dave expects me to put his clean laundry away for him, I might be surprised to discover that it annoys him completely that I mix his socks with his underwear. We can avoid that frustration by discussing the issue. He can put his own clothes away, or I can learn his little idiosyncrasies. But without communication, a simple frustration can eventually lead to a big argument.
The same goes for all of our friendships. If we value our friends, we owe it to ourselves and to them to explore a state of the union address when necessary. We may be burdening ourselves down needlessly. We may be imagining offense where there is none. Or we may be the source of another’s exaggerated frustrations.
Now, unlike our president’s state of the union address, where there is no intelligent exchange of ideas, simply a rendition of what’s on the paper or teleprompter before the most powerful man in American politics [ahem], we can actually benefit by our commitment to the exchange of ideas about how things sit within our relationships. One person can never have absolute say over the union if the other is to feel valued.
One of my favorite scriptures comes from an Old Testament book: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:” ~ Isaiah 1:18 (KJV) Our Creator goes on to say, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Even in His omnipotence and in His mercy, while pouring out elaborate grace on us, He invites us to reason together with Him. By example, He teaches us to reason with each other.
Who came to mind? What relationship in your life seems one-sided? Pray over the idea of exploring a state of the union exchange with that person, entering the conversation with grace and instruction from God. Divine insight goes a long ways.
This state of the union address is simply a conversation addressing the state of your union.