Why you do what you do…

Why you do what you do…

There is so much more to what we do than what we think. Why do you send people cards? Why do you keep in touch? Why do you call, or not call? What is the motivation behind your relationships?

As I’ve talked about before, there are some relationships that just come more naturally than others. It seems like people who I have good relationships with simply continue on with little conscious effort. However for those that I struggle with, it seems like no amount of effort or thought is ever enough. I can never anticipate the innumerable ways things can go wrong or be perceived.

Today I’ve been trying to figure out why this is the case and I was reminded of a portion of a book that was read to me a few years ago. I don’t remember the title, but the premise was that there are two kinds of motivations in relationships, fear and love. On one hand, fear based relationships are pushed forward out of a desire to avoid negative conflicts. You either do or refrain from doing actions, conversations, or activities based on how that will keep the precariously balanced relationship steady. Most people’s relationships with police officers are generally fear based. Regardless of what speed you are going, when you see them you hit the breaks.

On the other hand we have love based (or motivated) relationships. These are marked by a desire to please rather than a fear of displeasure. This may be pictured by a infatuated young man who picks wild flowers for the object of his affection simply because they made him think of her. If he showed up without flowers it probably wouldn’t have made her upset, but the fact that he brings them gives her joy.

There are less extreme examples of these two motivators and we experience them to some extent every day. You stay late at work to finish a project due to fear of failure. You wake up early to do the laundry so someone you love has their favorite shirt clean. You fit another thing into your packed schedule so you don’t disappoint someone. Or you find a few spare minutes to drop in on a friend you haven’t seen but really miss.

Ideally, all of your relationships should be motivated by love, but that is rarely the case. It seems very clear to me which relationships in my life are which. What is less clear is what to do about that. You see, I can’t just cut all of the fear based relationships out of my life, it’s not that simple. So the more I thought about it, God brought to mind some practical applications to learning to love and what that looks like.

1) “…Pray for those that despitefully use you.” Matthew 5:44 tells us that the first practical step to loving our enemies (or those who are part of fear based relationships) is prayer. Pray about them and for them, often. I’ve received a lot of insight into situations simply by asking God what the deal was. Once you have a God’s-eyed view of the circumstances it is easier to give grace and take less pressure on yourself.

2) “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9. There are times to talk about things and times to move on. Unfortunately just because you’ve moved on doesn’t mean everyone else has. It’s so easy to get caught back up into old issues bringing up painful situations again and again. There is always that temptation to tell others about what you know about so and so bringing them into circumstances they never needed to know about, but the next step to love does exactly the opposite. Proverbs tells us that when we love we chose to protect that person instead of slander them.

3) “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” Psalms 111:10 tells us that if we begin with a healthy fear of God He will give us wisdom in our difficult interactions (and in general). I watched a Francis Chan video recently called “Fear God” (which I highly recommend), in it he talks about how wussy our culture takes this verse. We talk about needing to have an awe or respect of God. He talks about how people in the Bible reacted when they saw God’s glory, it wasn’t with ohhs and ahhs. No, when people see God they respond with fear and dread, often falling flat on their faces “as dead”. We need to have a fear of God, but that fear is only the beginning. When we realize who God is, our natural reaction is fear, but when we see what that same God did out of love for us, when we really comprehend the extent of His sacrifice, we can respond with unabated CRAZY LOVE. (Check out my review on this great book HERE)


4) Allow God to work and get out of the way. I have seen that many of the recurring conflicts I’ve had have been facilitated by my desire to fix the situation. This desire was good, but my timing and approach were horrible. Trust God, do what He says, and stop worrying about everyone else. This takes all the guess work out of life.