Real Relationships: Me Before Us
Understanding Ourselves before Giving Ourselves to Others
But, Who Am I?
This is a question that we are constantly battered with today. With all of our social media bios, as we introduce ourselves to a seminar, as we sit down here today at Brock Campus Ministry: who am I?
It is also an important question as we consider committing ourselves, even for a dating season of life, to another person.
When you are asked the question, who are you, what’s your answer?
How do we measure our identity, what is the source of our identity?
What have you looked for, are you looking for, think you will look for, when looking for a partner?
Why Ask This Question?
In relationships, it is so easy to lose ourselves, our sense of individual identity, of what we actually need.
Fully Fulfilled - We place insane expectations on our romantic partners. We want them to meet all of our emotional, spiritual, relationship, intellectual, and physical needs.
This pressure for the other to meet every need, is overwhelmingly negative for both people in a relationship.
Person A (Braxxton): Impossible Expectations - Braxxton cannot live a life without Braxxleigh, cannot function as an individual human being without Braxxleigh by their side.
Person B (Braxxleigh): Impossibly Expected Of - Braxxleigh does not understand who she is apart from her relationship. She has no time, energy, or capacity to care for herself or her needs because they are constantly prioritizing the needs of Braxxton.
Both persons lose their individualized identities. They are so co-dependent and their expectations either of each other or of themselves become so high that they are disconnected from who they are apart.
We become so focused on the wants and needs of the other person that we lose sight of who we even are.
This is just one example of why we need to thoughtfully, prayerfully, and devotedly discern who we are and who God created us to be before we throw ourselves into a relationship whose needs begin to overwhelm our own.
Who Are You
If we do not know who we are we will slowly lose sight of who we are and what we actually need.
What makes you uniquely you?
What are the things that you love?
What are the dreams you have?
What are the things that bring you deep joy?
What gives your life meaning?
What do you value?
How does knowing who you are, what you value and love, and how you find meaning influence who you find yourself pursuing a relationship with?
Who Does God Say You Are?
Made in the Image of God
Genesis 1:27: God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.
What does this even mean? That I look like God? Why does this matter for how we understand ourselves in a relationship with someone else?
What does forgiveness mean to you?
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,” Ephesians 1:7
While we were still sinners, Jesus Christ died for us.
We are way more likely to do something bad, evil, or selfish -- then good, loving, and selfless. Our hearts are darkened.
But through the love, forgiveness, grace, and power of the Son of God we are given a new heart. A heart filled with a love that God provides for us.
Out with the Old, In with the New
“In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit,” Ephesians 2:22
We were all once distant, stuck in our brokenness, lost, feeling helpless!
But as we come into the family of God, through the forgiveness of God made possible by Jesus, we are given a new heart.
We become new people, with new purposes, and a new identity.
The Love of God, Through Us
As we will read today, all of our relationships will be marked by our brokenness. No relationship will be perfect, or survive, unless it is ultimately founded on the sacrificial love of God given to us.
It is through the love of God for us, that we are able to love others.
1 John 4:7-21
7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19 We love each other because he loved us first.
20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.
God’s Love, Not Mine
It is when we understand this as our core identity - beloved, forgiven, recipients of the love of God that we can begin to offer that love to others in a meaningful way.
It is from the love of God that we are able to love someone else fully.
Have you ever met someone who seemed to overflow with the love of God? Who was so confident in their identity as a child of God that this just teemed from them into any relationship they had?
Identity Not in ME, but in CHRIST
Finally, as we seek out another person to spend our lives with, or a season of life with, we need to be confident in the truth of scripture that says our ultimate identity is not found in our grades, our style, or social media, our skills, or even our character, but in Christ.
We are who we are because of what Jesus has done on the cross for you. We are who we are because of the Holy Spirit gifted and given to us shaping us into the likeness of Jesus each and every day.
This is why it is so important to be in a relationship with another person of faith, not to make your parents happy, but to spur you on in your faith, encourage you to bring things to God in prayer, and point you toward the cross instead of to yourself or to themself.
If who we are is strongly grounded in Christ, you can face conflict without fear, confident in the identity of Jesus.