We started off 2014 with a fresh page, some of us making resolutions; some of us choosing a word. About this time, though, the resolutions might be starting to wear out. Or the words we chose for a new year are fading into the back of our minds. Stop and think with me for a minute about words for our relationships in 2014. Because there are relationship habits to avoid, but there are also relationship words to start using; and it’s always the right time to make these words part of your vocabulary.
Too often, hard circumstances and painful relationships convince you that you don’t matter. Other people define you, and the labels become a heavy weight that you can’t seem to shrug off. The truth is that you are a unique, irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind miracle that will never be repeated. Your story deserves to be heard. Choose to be in relationships with people who hear you, who respect your values, and who want you to succeed and are willing to invest in the things that matter to you. Need help figuring that out? We’ll listen and help you make a plan.
Peer pressure is a harsh reality, especially in relationships and sexual decisions. While many people seems to think that teens and young adults have sex when they please, I know from talking to many young people that they feel pressured into sexual acts when they’d rather not participate. But they don’t want to hurt the other person or lose the relationship, and they’re not sure what to do. Here’s an idea: say yes to what you want to affirm – no to what you don’t want to do – and yes to an activity that you’d enjoy instead. It would sound something like this: “I enjoy spending time with you. I don’t want to have sex yet. I’d enjoy hanging out at Ciao Gelato. Would you like to go there?” or “You’re a great friend. I’ve already decided not to smoke weed, so no thanks. I was thinking about hitting the mountain for a few runs this weekend; would you like to meet up on Saturday morning with our boards?” It’s challenging to say no in the face of pressure, and having a plan for how you will respond to pressure is one of the first steps to succeed in maintaining your own values without losing friendships you value.
Please forgive me
Building healthy relationships is hard work. And in a culture that uses social media and internet connections to criticize, gossip, complain, and put people down without ever having to look into each other’s eyes, it’s becoming easier and easier to avoid real conflict resolution. Many times, we can even ignore the effect our words have on other people. The most life-giving, helpful thing to say when you know your words have hurt someone is “please forgive me” (and in return, “I forgive you”). What could 2014 be like if we all agreed to try to resolve hurts instead of ignoring them, to pursue peace in our relationships instead of attacks, and to forgive generously when others hurt us? Beautiful things could happen…
What other relationship words are important to you? What would you recommend as a word for others to use more frequently in 2014?