Relationships with others can be tricky, heck relationships with ourselves can be tricky! I know that sometimes no matter how hard I try to be a loving, kind and thoughtful friend, sister, mother, wife, daughter, etc. that there are times when I mess up. I'm human it happens. There's nothing more disappointing to me then when I mess up. When I hurt somebody else, whether it be intentional or unintentional. When I become thoughtless or inconsiderate. It can cause me to lose sleep, beating myself up wishing that I had made different choices, different decisions. Gosh I hate that!
What I've come to realize, is that friendships, relationships, are a spiritual practice. We regularly need to practice and pull upon our spirituality in our relationships. Whether it be offering forgiveness, or empathy, or compassion, or gratitude, or love, or grace, or faith. Whether we need to remember not to judge each other, to be empathetic, or to allow ourselves and others to be vulnerable. All of these virtues, all of these spiritual practices, are necessary in order to maintain healthy, lasting, lifelong relationships and friendships.
Personally, I am working on bringing to life these spiritual practices into all of my relationships and I'm working to coach my children to do the same. That seems easier to do with some relationships than with others. I'm also working hard to recognize when I've messed up. And to acknowledge and attempt to resolve and heal those situations, even if it's uncomfortable or hard to do. Challenging myself to own up to the moments in time where I didn't make the best choice and resolve to do better in the future.
Owning up to things requires a lot of courage. The courage to be vulnerable and admit imperfection, instead of defending and trying to protect ourselves. The courage to dig deep within ourselves and recognize our own flaws, maybe our own insecurities, maybe our own bias. The courage to walk in someone else's shoes and to consider another's perspective.
There are several things that are key to building strong relationships. I believe that trust and faith are critical. I feel like if you have trust within the relationship and faith in each other then that makes imperfections within the relationship easier to gracefully move beyond. If I mess up, I hope the other person trusts me and has faith in me to know that it was unintentional, to know that I will fix it to the best of my ability. For me the challenge comes when you don't have the foundation of trust and faith, it makes practicing the other virtues more difficult, if not impossible.
Intimacy is something that is lacking in a lot of friendships. Intimacy isn't possible without being vulnerable and intimacy isn't possible without small acts of trust. As John Gottman explains “Trust is built on small moments.” And trust is destroyed in small moments, too.
Intimacy is a practice not a privilege. And it must be reciprocated. You don’t get friends and relationships for life because you want them, you get friends for life because you’ve practiced. You've practiced engaging with them and you've practiced your spirituality with them and they with you.
Relationships take courage. The courage to be vulnerable, to hold our hearts open to loving others and to loving ourselves. The courage to forgive others and ourselves. The courage to be openly grateful for the other person. The courage to trust and have faith in others and ourselves.
Some will say we are put on this earth to love, some will say it's to find our purpose, some will say it's to learn and grow and have experiences. All of those may be true, but doesn't it all boil down to relationships? Our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with others, and our relationship with God. We were made for relationships, for friends. Learning how to relate to God, learning how to relate to one another, and learning how to relate and make friends with ourselves. To get closer to our own divinity, to get closer to ourselves.
Communicate with your friends, your loved ones and honor them. Be nonjudgmental. Remember to have the courage to practice your spirituality in all of your relationships and to be vulnerable. One of my favorite sayings is to do onto others as you would have them do unto you. I desire forgiveness, I desire love, I desire compassion, so I need to remember and have the courage to be vulnerable enough to do onto others as I desire them to do unto me...and I hope that you will as well.
What do you think, is friendship a spiritual practice? I would love to hear your thoughts on this post. Please leave me a comment or send me an email!