Let Your Relationships Refine Not Define
- Cliff Young Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2008 24 Jul
Companies spend billions of dollars a year for celebrities to endorse their product. They believe our culture wants to wear, look, eat, drive and be like a celebrity, and they are probably correct. We often try anything to be like other people or someone other than ourselves.
I have thought about this when facing a questionnaire or personality profile, “How I can skew my answer to be perceived ‘more favorable,’ be like someone else or be what someone else would want?” I look back and see how I applied this premise to some of my past relationships.
There was a time when I tried to be and do everything I thought my girlfriend wanted. I changed my lifestyle, I changed what I ate, I changed the sports I played, I changed the way I acted—I became a different person. After noticing I was emotionally up, down and all over the place, a close friend shared with me that I wasn’t being myself.
I discovered I had let my relationship define who I was.
Years ago a popular advertising campaign stated, “Be like Mike” (Michael Jordan). As a result, millions of people ran out to purchase basketball shoes and apparel imprinted with his image. The only person it defined was Michael Jordan.
So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27).
We are all created in God’s image, not in an image you see on a magazine cover, on television, or in the movies. Unfortunately, we tend to spend more time absorbing these images from the media than we do absorbing God’s Word.
The Lord gave me a message. He said, ‘I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as a spokesman to the world’ (Jeremiah 1:5).
It must pain the Lord when I try to emulate another person rather than embrace who the Lord created me to be.
He knew me (us)
He formed me (us)
He set me (us) apart
He appointed me (us) as a spokesman to the world.
Define yourself as God’s creation in God’s image for God’s purpose.
Precious metals are often mentioned in the Bible in correlation to a person’s character. The process of purifying a metal or making it precious requires high heat, hammering, cooling, and forming along the way. Our journey to become precious requires us to go through difficult times and struggles so that we may grow strong, pure and complete.
I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure, just as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire (Zechariah 13:9).
I love that the Bible translates to use the term refine. The definitions of refine are descriptive and depict a positive result.
- To free from impurities or unwanted material
- To free from moral imperfection
- To improve or perfect by pruning or polishing
- To become pure or perfected
- To make improvement by introducing subtleties or distinctions
We all have impurities and moral imperfections that can be refined and perfected. We can work on areas of our life to improve who we are. However, our instinct may be to avoid situations that will stretch us or reveal our weaknesses because we don’t want to “deal with it.” It’s easier to blame others (or take it out on others) for our circumstances rather than face our own shortcomings (or take responsibility for our own actions). This is often highlighted and magnified within a relationship.
How Relationships Can Help to Refine
I used to work with a person who, when asked, “Why did you marry your wife when you are treated so harshly by her?” responded, “I’d rather be married and miserable than be single and alone.” What?! Is that why God created him in His own image, to be married and miserable?
Many relationships experience difficulties because two “incomplete” people enter the relationship wanting the other person to “complete” them (thank you Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire). Instead of looking for someone else to complete you, look to the Lord.
Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you (James 4:8).
Grow closer to God and learn His will for your life and your relationships.
Evaluate the things you like and dislike about yourself and about those you have been in relationship with.
Determine how you can become a better person (and mate) and the type of person you want to be with.
The closer we are in relationship with God, the closer we will be to God’s will for our life and the healthier we will be in our relationships with others.
Where are you in the process of being refined, hammered, and purified? How close are you to being what God created you to be? Don’t give up God’s dream for your life in order to settle for a relationship, follow someone else’s dream, or because a prior relationship didn’t work out. Don’t allow your unsuccessful relationships to define who you are, rather use them to refine you into the person God has designed and planned for you to be.
I will keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven (Philippians 3:12-14).
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, He Said-She Said, in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to [email protected].