From Danny Silk, Keep Your Light On:
“I choose you.” This is the foundation of true, lasting relationships. It is the foundation for God’s relationship with you. As Jesus declared to His disciples, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you…” Jesus chose you in the most difficult of circumstances. He chose you while you were in sin, while you were His enemy. You can be sure that His end of relationship with you does not depend upon your choice, but entirely upon His choice. The question is whether or not you will learn to build your relationships with Him and others upon the foundation of your choice.
Unfortunately, most people haven’t learned to build their relationships on the premise, “I choose you.” Their premise for relationship is, “You chose me.” Take the typical secondary school canteen at lunchtime: On the first day of school, everyone enters the
lunchroom with their lunch boxes and the weighty knowledge that their entire social status for the year is about to be determined by what happens in the next half hour. They
scan the room, identify each group of people, and wonder which one they should join.
This inner debate continues until someone calls out, “Hey you! Yes, you. Do you want to sit with us?” Relieved that someone is choosing them, they shut their brain off and wander over to the table where they will probably sit for the rest of the year.
It’s simply our natural instinct to like people who like us and to choose people who choose us. This instinct even extends to non-humans. When a dog licks the face of its owner, the owner smiles and thinks, “I love this dog! Look at how much this dog loves me.” His friends might think it is disgusting, but the dog owner enjoys being liked, even if he gets slobbered on.
However, if all our relationships are based solely on our natural impulse to return liking for liking, then we’re going to have problems. Liking is a conditional state—it changes.
Making “you chose me” the foundation of a relationship dooms it to change, and probably collapse, the minute one person’s liking happens to turn sour. I can see disaster
coming from miles away when I meet with couples for pre-marriage counselling, ask the man to describe his bride-to-be, and hear something like this:
“Uh, she’s hot. She loves me. I really love that she loves me. That is my favourite thing about her. She could have had any guy, but she chose me. I am so lucky.”
I wish I could say such a response isn’t common, but I can’t. When nothing I hear tells me that a man is choosing a bride for her own sake, because she is the one he wants, I can
say with a great deal of certainty that the relationship is fragile. What will happen when his wife stops showing him the same degree of affection she did when he was engaged? What happens if someone “hotter” comes along and decides to choose him?
A healthy, lasting relationship can only be built between two people who choose one another and take full responsibility for that choice. This choice must be based on
who they are, what they want, and what they are committed to doing as individuals. Traditional marriage vows express the nature of this choice beautifully. The two people standing at the altar do not say, “You will. You will love me and cherish me in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” And they don’t say, “I will love you as long as you love me. I will be faithful to you as long as you are faithful to me.” Their vows are all about what they are going to do. “I will love you. I will protect you. I will serve you. I will be faithful to you, no matter what.”
In order to be able to make and keep commitments like this —commitments to enduring, intimate relationships—you need to be a certain kind of person. You need to be a powerful person. Powerful people take responsibility for their lives and choices. Powerful people choose who they want to be with, what they are going to pursue in life, and how they are going to go after it.
Unfortunately, most of us did not grow up to be powerful people. If you were blessed to have parents who taught you to be responsible for your choices, then you should go home and thank them. It’s a rare gift. Most people don’t know that they can be powerful, or even that they ought to be. They are trained from a young age that someone else is responsible for their decisions, and all they have to do is comply and obey. This sets them up to struggle in multiple aspects of life, particularly with building healthy relationships.
From Danny Silk, Keep Your Light On.