What am I to you?

An email asks this question: 'What am I to you? This poignant question, popularized earlier this decade by Grammy Award winning artist, Norah Jones, conveys the longing of all our hearts.'

'Do I matter? Are you for me? Will you be there for me when I'm in trouble or facing trauma? Do you see me? Will you let me in? We were all made for such depths of relationship, even if disappointment in others over the years has made us bitter, resigned, cynical, or hopeless.'

Carol came home, flopped into a chair and exclaimed: "What have we got in our marriage?" "Where has the warmth of each other's presence, the joy of just being together, gone?"  "Tell me: What is it that makes our marriage Christian?" "Who are we to each other?"

Noah looked into the eyes of his dad and shouted: "Admit it, all I am to you is nuisance value. You never take an interest in what I do. You don't take time to explore career options with me. I can't remember you ever praising me.  What do I have to do for you to take an interest in me? Who am I to you?

Relationships matter at every level. Too often they are reduced to angry exchanges, jealousy, malice, lies, exploitation, abuse, conflict, selfishness. Living in such an environment can leave us feeling empty, alone with a deep sense that nobody values us, nobody truly loves us.

Relationships don't need to be this way.  The Bible gives us a great model and pattern.  Relationships can be transformed. For Carol and her husband change began with honest confession to each other and to God. They agreed to be determined to change with God's help. Each week they focused on an area that would assist them to rebuild their marriage. This began with putting the other first before anything or anyone. They explored Bible passages that talk about how to treat and respond to others. Slowly they became a genuinely loving couple.  They knew they mattered to each other.

For Noah and his dad it was hard to turn things around. Noah's outburst brought to the surface that they were a very dysfunctional family. Family members had adopted a live and let live mentality. Deep down they were emotionally empty, frustrated and cynical. With outside help they began to explore what the Bible says about relationships in a community and in a family. It hurt to admit they each pursued selfish ambitions to the disregard of others.  They saw others as 'less' than themselves. Tenderness, humility and compassion were alien concepts to them. As Jesus the servant became their model [Philippians 2:5-11], and various bible passages their guide, over two years they became a Christian family.

The challenge is: If your child, brother, sister, spouse, parent asked, "What am I to you?" How would you respond?  What do you and I need to change? Continue? Learn? to be 'Christian' in our relationships?

Dr Keith Graham

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