Some things just take time. We are all on a journey; learning as we go. I hope by now you’ve learned a few things about relationships, people and hearts. I know I have. Those lessons should influence how we interact with others from friendships all the way to our marriages.
A little over a year ago I read a book that changed the way I think about the health of relationships. Beyond Ordinary by Justin and Trisha Davis (Refine Us) is a book that tells “the dangers of settling for an ordinary marriage. Their own failure to recognize the warning signs almost resulted in the end of their marriage, their family, and their ministry.”
While the summary will lead you to believe that this a book about marriage, it goes WAY beyond that.
This book is FULL of Biblical + practical wisdom for marriages or any relationship you are in. The principles apply with family relationships and friendships as well.
If you are a Cliffnotes kind of gal…here are my top 3 takeaways (all quotes are from the book):
#1 – As someone who places a high priority on peace in relationships, I would have told you before reading the book that there wasn’t a lot of arguing or fighting in my marriage and that was a good thing. I believed that little or no conflict meant we were strong and healthy. As it turns out, this is not the case. Stuffing your emotions, putting off important conversations or hiding who you really are to avoid conflict are actually barriers to healthy relationships. This is true in marriage but your friendships as well.
“A healthy marriage isn’t void of conflict; it is void of unresolved conflict.”
This truth has been an encouragement to me to speak up…humbly…in love and work through differences or hurts in relationships instead of ignore them. The result is an stronger, healthier relationships.
#2 – I learned the difference between incremental change and transformational change. The Davis’ write…
“Incremental change makes big promises but only lasts a short time. Incremental change is change you are in control of. Incremental change is you working harder to stop the things you keep messing up. Incremental change, at its core, has you at the center trying to be better today than you were yesterday.”
They go on to say that this type of change is motivated by guilt, shame, feelings of incompetence and failure. This boils down to YOU trying to be the best version of yourself in your own power and it’s doomed to failure.
Transformational change, as the name suggests, is what God offers to us.
“Transformational change is about surrender, vulnerability and transparency; humility and dependency. Transformational change is committed to peeling back layer after painful layer of your past, your dysfunction, and your sin until the core problem is exposed.”
Ouch. The painful and challenging truth is that transformational change is brought when God strips away all of the outer layers that we use to barricade ourselves in and keep our hearts safe. We will need to allow Him access to those places we’d most like to hide. The beauty is that while He works, we are changed from the inside out in ways that will bring us a fullness of life we haven’t known before.
The best we have to offer in any relationship is our true selves…a heart that has been transformed by a holy God. The best we can do in our own strength is not enough. Deep down we know it and we hope that no one else notices…but it’s not true and we lose the abundance and fullness in relationships that God intends for us to experience.
#3 – There is a formula to extraordinary:
Ordinary is the by-product of the equation time + unintentionality = ordinary
Intentionality + time = extraordinary
Praying FOR your spouse and praying WITH your spouse are two ways to achieve EXTRAORDINARY. You could also implement this with your children. A third discipline to living in extraordinary relationships is to be committed to your relationship with God. In Beyond Ordinary the Davis’ break this down into 2 parts:
First, we will choose to think about God. This involves personal prayer, reading God’s Word, and becoming aware of God’s prompting and presence. Second, pursuing God involves a willingness to surrender our rights and our desires to God and his plan.
Seeking God will involve discipline to choose daily practices that will bring you closer to Him. As you pray and read the word you become more aware of His presence and voice in your life. The more you know Him, the more you trust and the result is a greater willingness to open our hearts and lives to his work. All of this intentionality leads to transformational change and extraordinary marriage, family and friend relationships.
The concepts presented in this book challenged me deeply but also opened my eyes to the fact that my marriage and other relationships could surpass anything I had imagined before.
What part of this is most challenging or eye opening to you?