All relationships are messy. Friendships, romantic relationships, they all involve some stress, disagreements and arguments along the way. But sticking together despite the mess is what makes relationships good and strong. No one can be perfect, but we can all be persistent.
I want to share two stories that I heard from different people. Two stories which remind me that pretending everything is okay when it’s not doesn’t make relationships stronger. Or pretending to be the perfect couple, or perfect family, or the perfect friend, doesn’t work either.
No one can be perfect, but we can all be persistent
What makes relationships stronger is realising that working through the mess and hard times is what makes relationships last, and when we strive towards building better relationships.
That’s why I believe the Christian faith can be so powerful. It teaches us to love those around us, to forgive, help each other, and build community. It also reminds us we’re all flawed, but can be loved and give love too.
I hope these stories remind you it’s okay to not be perfect, but you can be persistent.
You Don’t Threaten To Leave
My friend told me about a family he knew. He said they went to church every Sunday and seemed like the ideal family. But often behind closed doors, they had arguments like everyone else. The siblings shouted at each other, the mum and dad had the stresses all relationships face, and life wasn’t perfect.
They thought they had to look like there were no issues
They did all love each other and tried to make the family work. But when they stepped outside, they pretended to be perfect. They thought they had to look like there were no issues and everything was fine.
After getting to know their neighbour over several years, she asked to come to church with them one Sunday. She wasn’t a Christian so the dad had stern words with his kids, saying ‘You need to be on your best behaviour! Our neighbour is coming with us, I don’t want any trouble’.
In the car, world war three broke out. The kids started arguing, the parents started shouting, and everyone seemed to be angry at each other. Then the woman they brought along started crying.
It’s about how you navigate through the problem together
The parents were embarrassed and were apologising. But the woman wasn’t upset that they were shouting, it was because their family was like hers.
She said ‘I thought you had no issues, I thought you never argued, but you’re just like my family. The difference is you don’t threaten to leave after an argument.’
She realised all relationships have problems, but it’s about how you navigate through the problem together. (Read ‘How To Have A Good Argument‘.)
Well If He Can Do It, I Can Do It
I remember hearing a preach at church once, the guy speaking said he took some teenagers from his church, and some teenagers who weren’t Christians from the local area, on a weekend away. He took some of them up in a mini bus and the other leaders took the rest up in their cars.
On the way, the mini bus got a flat tyre, which was a hassle to fix. The guy said it started raining and changing the tyre just wasn’t working, and it was getting more and more difficult.
The guy said he lost his temper, threw the tools across the road, and went off shouting. He came back in a bad mood, eventually fixed it, and when he got into the mini bus he shouted that no one should talk to him for the rest of the journey.
The rest of the trip was silent.
I realised you didn’t need to have it all sorted to relate to God
After he had calmed down and got to the hostel everyone had relaxed and started to have a good time. The rest of the weekend went well by all accounts. At the end, one of the non-Christian teenagers, who was known for being a trouble maker in the area, asked to become a Christian.
The guy said ‘Why? What convinced you? Was it the talks, the worship, the community?’ He replied ‘No, it was when you lost your temper. I realised you didn’t need to have it all sorted to relate to God. I thought, well if he can do it, I can do it’.
I believe people know they’re flawed deep down and have made mistakes. What they really want is to know they are wanted and someone will be with them in the mess despite the mess. Imagine if we stop pretending we have it sorted, and instead were real, honest and authentic with people about our struggles.
In my experience, vulnerability leads to vulnerability. When we start talking about our struggles, it allows others to do the same and get the support they need. (Read ‘What I Wish I Had Been Taught About Love‘)
Why do you think there is so much pressure to be perfect nowadays?