Updated: Nov 7, 2019
What is the key to having healthy and meaningful relationships?
If you answered communication or honesty, I think you are on the right track.
When we put it in such simple terms, these things sound easily achievable.
Communication, talk for goodness sake.
Honesty, don't lie.
However, we have a gut feeling that it can't be this simple.
So, what are the things that interfere with having the relationships that you want?
You might have just listed 50 things in your head, but today I want to focus on how fear gets in the way of having deep and meaningful relationships.
Understanding our "Layers"
In trying to understand how fear gets in the way of our relationships, I dug into a book by Larry Crabb & Dan B. Allender called "Encouragement."
There was much in the book that would be relevant to our conversation, but I thought one line of thinking was particularly impressive. This idea is that "we have layers."
In the book, they point out that we, as fallen human beings, naturally put up a layer or layers because of our fear, to protect ourselves from the feeling of rejection or the feeling of judgment or inadequacy.
The problem is that these layers that are built up by fear inhibit honest communication and relational growth.
When we hide behind our fear, we close ourselves off relationally from other people, because the authenticity (that trust is built on) is traded in for a facade within the relationship.
We put up these "layers" because we feel we need to be protected. However, when we think that a person accepts us, we can lay these layers down. The fear that built them up is replaced with the willingness to trust that the other person will not reject us.
This trust is a major key in our relationships. When we can see trust tear down our layers built by fear, real and authentic relationships can take place.
We can see how this can relate to our relationship with God.
Initially, we approach Him with our fears creating distance between Him and us, but when we began to understand that God is entirely trustworthy and that He can accept us fully on account of Jesus' work on the cross, we can lay our "layers" down and embrace a real and authentic relationship with God.
We ought to also strive to encourage others to let go of their layers by providing them with our overall attitude of love and understanding. If this happens, their fear that has built their layers that inhibit authentic relationships can be laid down.
We can see how our fear can play a significant role in our relationships and how we can strive to build relationships with others through building trust through authenticity, understanding, and love.
This is Christ's call to us as we walk together in Christ-centered relationships!