Have you ever watched NBC’s The Office? Talk about dysfunctional relationships. Yet, so many people love the show because in many ways it is so true to life. What about ABC’s Modern Family? We may not all have a gay brother living with his partner and adopted daughter or a father whose second wife is the same age as his children —but there are many times we can relate to the difficult relational interactions between the family members. One thing is true about all relationship whether on TV or in real life—some relationships in our lives are more tender than others.
There are those people in your life that you can be a bull around and there are others you must act like Bambi around. How I interact with my husband, children, best friend, and strangers are all different. Why is that? Could it be that the relationship I have developed with each person dictates how honest I can be with them and how I share my true thoughts? Does the other person’s emotional and spiritual health dictate the relationship? Michael Scott has no issue ‘laying it all out there’ with Dwight because he figures Dwight’s skin is thick enough. Yet I have to ask myself, ‘is Dwight’s skin really all that thick?’ Sometimes people can be like burnt marshmallows, hard and crunchy on the outside yet soft and gooey on the inside.
Since I don’t really want to emulate my life after Michael Scott, I asked myself, how did Jesus interact with those around him? What I found is that each interaction He had was customized. It depended on who he was talking to. For example, when Jesus was speaking to the woman at the well in John 4 he was empathetic. When he spoke to the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23 he was truthful and laid it all out there in a seemingly angry manner. It wasn’t just that he was dealing with man verses women. He looked at the spiritual and emotional condition of the parties he was speaking to.
How can I do the same? First, I think I have to care enough about others to look at their spiritual and emotional state. We aren’t called to judge people based upon their spiritually or emotion state, but would it hurt to at least recognize where they are? After that recognition, I may need to adjust my interactions accordingly. A little recognition and a little understanding is probably more important this time of year than a sledge hammer dose of truth, especially if you know the relationship is a 10-der one.
Tomorrow: The Ninth Day of Christmas–9 Rounds in the Ring