The idea that relationship is intended for the fulfillment of a greeting card moment to be applied to a Norman Rockwell portrait is a set up. It’s those expectations that lead us to believe our comparative dysfunction make us unique. In reality, everyone operates from some level of dysfunction. In furtherance of that reality, the dysfunction will serve us and those around us well as we work out the development of our character.
The dysfunction of a team creates and fosters levels of conflict that require reaction. The reaction will determine the value of the time for the individual as a member of that team. In other words, if any individual member of any given team will allow the conflict inherent in group dynamics to shape them, they can come out of the experience better than when they arrived. Or, they can point fingers and assign blame.
The working out of the character of an individual cannot be accomplished in a vacuum. The necessary context is community. That community is a good barometer and mirror for the condition and maturity of the soul and character of an individual member. Where the individual is healthy and mature, they will set healthy and mature boundaries for the others in the group. Depending on the health and maturity of the others, there will either be a meeting of two or more parties in the framework of healthy boundaries or not. The process is:
- Healthy heart – Scripture says that we must, above all else guard our heart, because life flows from it. We have to continually tend to the soil of our soul to keep it fresh and rich.
- Healthy boundaries – From healthy soil, the seed of the Word can produce healthy fruit including such relational necessities as peace, patience, kindness and self-control. Those fruits allow for decisions that are not chaotic, selfish, rude or hurtful.
- Healthy conflict – Conflict will happen, so it’s just a matter of how healthy things are once it arrives. If the heart and the boundaries are tended to, then they can be the appropriate markers to guide the parties back to peace.
- Healthy relationship – This process is ongoing. With every successful experience, even the challenging ones, the depth of relationship can grow through the experience of engagement. The foxhole produces loyalty.
Relationship is a gift and it’s with the conditions that are for our good, even through the bad. We benefit from not checking out and we grow from not shrinking away.