Relationships are the best parts of our lives but also can represent some of the most painful aspects.. 

When we are in sync with those special people in our lives, when we respect our differences and boundaries, when we affirm and show kindness, these relationships build us up as nothing else—short of God—can. 

However, when relationships are toxic, when those closest to us scrutinize us so that we feel we have to watch every word—watch our backs—such relationships can cause us to doubt ourselves, make us feel isolated, estranged and lonely. 

When I encounter difficult relationships, it helps me to remember that Jesus faced far more difficulty in relationships than I will ever experience. He was thought to be a lunatic by his family, betrayed by those closest to him, misunderstood and mocked by those whom He came to save, and ultimately executed while being spat upon and jeered. 

Whom better to take my hurts, concerns, and misunderstandings to? Who better to provide comfort and understanding? Who more likely to help me see my role in bad relationships, to teach me to humble myself, apologize, forgive? 

When my self-worth rests in Him, when I love others but don’t depend on them for my deepest peace and contentment, when I pray to reflect His love to others, relationships take on a radically new life. 

I can enjoy people for who they are, pray for them, and set their negative aspects aside. I can invite them into my life. I can wish them life’s best if they choose to go elsewhere.