“I may lose my relationship with you over this,” I said, “but I am willing to risk it.  It is my job to protect you and I have made my decision.” I sat on the floor facing my daughter. She sat glaring at me. I was so mad, I swore. I was drawing a line in the sand. I was holding my ground.

Beth and I have always parented with a bent towards, “Yes.” We would not say no out of convenience. We would encourage our children to make their best decisions and learn from their mistakes.

This was one of those times when “yes” wasn’t going to cut it. It was definitely a “no!” I will spare the details, but it was messy!

Beth and I live by four core values in our marriage each paired with a practice:

  • Truth: We walk in light – we have a relentless commitment to the truth
  • Love: We walk in love – we are committed to let God’s love flow in and through us
  • Relationships: We walk together – we are committed to work through the messiness of relationships
  • Faith: We walk in step with the Holy Spirit – we are committed to being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and obeying Him.

I was leaning into everyone of these core values and practices in that parenting moment. I was sharing truth out of love. I was confident in the leading of the Holy Spirit in this. We were in the thick of the mess!

In their book, Relationships, A Mess Worth Making, Tim Lane and Paul Tripp discuss the need to take a different approach to life and relationships. In our selfishness, we look at relationships through the lens of “me.” They challenge us to ask a different question: “What purpose does God intend for relationships to serve in my life?” The answer, “God intends for my relationships is to produce personal growth and witness to the world!”

In John 17:20-26, Jesus’ prayer lays out what God intended for our relationships. Let me point out a few things.

  1. Jesus prayed for you! What a thought. Jesus prayed for you. He thought of you as He was entering into the most intense season of His life.
  2. Jesus prayed you would enjoy healthy relationships. He wants you to grow in your relationships with others so we all can experience the oneness He has with the Father.
  3. Jesus prayed you would have a healthy relationship with God. He wants you to be close to Him so others will see Him in you. And seeing Him, they will experience John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, He sent His son…so that who ever believes shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

God exists in perfect community – one God, three persons (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit). The Godhead is the only place we can look for a perfect model for human relationships. We are made in His image. That is we are made for relationships. The vertical relationship with Him and the horizontal relationships with one another.

The problem is our sinfulness collides with these truths. In our sinfulness we withdraw from others because the risk of the relationship is too high. Or sometimes we seek to satisfy our needs in a relationship when the truth is only God can fully satisfy our needs.

My daughter was blind to the truth. Her emotions and youth were clouding reality. But we were committed to working through the messiness of relationships. In a letter she wrote to me about a year or so later she said, “Thank you for being my daddy and my friend.” We are very close today. Our relationship is not perfect. As a matter of fact it is still messy at times. We both still struggle with our sinful natures, but our relationship is a special part of our lives.

In the next few posts I hope to equip us to navigate relationships with truth and grace at the intersection of our sin and that of others. For now will you pray this prayer with me:

Jesus, you thought of me and prayed for me so long ago. Thank you! Open my physical and spiritual eyes to see how you want to use relationships in my life to make me more like you and so others can see You in me! Amen.