When we think about where we are as individuals today, we can often trace our location (geographical, spiritual or emotional location) back to a relationship that we had in the past.
As humans we place our value in the types of relationships we have, as well as the perceived value that someone places in having a relationship with us. Past relationships can have a tremendous impact on how we view our current situations, whether personal and professional.
For example if someone has an abusive parent or spouse, the value they place on themselves can directly come from how they were treated. They can become apprehensive of authority or companionship and become cynical, isolated, and sometimes violent.
Or if someone had an amazing friend or family member who continuously encouraged them to pursue their dreams. They might one day receive a Grammy award and genuinely feel like that person is responsible for helping them become a star.
Every interaction we have with the people around us will make negative or positive deposits into their lives. It could be a small deposit but over time the deposits we make will gain interest.
A negative relational deposit in my life came from confessing my struggle with pornography to a pastor when I was 13 years old. He told me that he would follow up with me on a regular basis and help me overcome this struggle. I was encouraged and for about a month I didn’t look at pornography. But as it became clear that the pastor was not going to follow up with me it became harder and harder to say no to pornogrpahy. And consequently I was addicted to porn for 8 more years.
However small of a relational interaction that was, it was made more significant because that was the first time I felt comfortable enough to say something. Even though it was a 5 minute conversation it took me 5 more years to confess that sin to someone else.
The tough thing about relational equity is that negative deposits have a significantly higher interest rate than positive deposits.
A friend of mine and his wife foster adopted two young brothers, and as he reflected on the experience he said, ‘it took a year and a half of telling them we loved them 30-40 times a day to make any difference in their actions.’ Their negative experiences created a debt in their lives that needed continuous positive deposits. Now they operate out of a surplus of positive love.
Proverbs 18:21 says, ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.’
The way we talk to people we interact with can either lift them up from where they are, or bury them deeper in the grave of negativity.
We have the ability give life to those around us. May we be intentional in the way we navigate relationships.
In what ways have relationships impacted you?