Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Refining Relationships: The Power of Perspective in Relationships
The world would be a better place if we could resolve misunderstandings between people! What causes misunderstandings? The main answer is simple: perspective differences. Our perspectives shape the way we perceive situations. For example, someone raised in the southern United States is taught to treat older people with respect. Southerners say, “Yes, ma’am” or “No, sir” as a sign of honor. However, someone raised in the northern United States may be offended if someone calls them “ma’am” or “sir” because they do not want to be thought of as old. Unfortunately, one person’s actions meant to promote respect can be misunderstood as offensive.
Before you continue reading, I encourage you to look at Figure 1-1 and contemplate how each of these areas has influenced your interactions with other people. No one else shares your personal experiences; thus, no one else can bring what you bring to a relationship. Likewise, God intentionally places specific people in your life because of what they bring to you. When we consider perspective differences according to their benefit to us, we will celebrate each person’s unique qualities instead of being critical of those who do not share our same perspective.
If we stay stuck in our own perspective, we will likely build walls between us and the people who do not share our same viewpoint. Since everyone has a different point of view, we cannot expect others to see things exactly as we see them. I have personally come to realize the importance of seeking God to show me my own perspective, the person’s perspective with whom I have conflict, and, more importantly, God’s perspective. The good news is that “in his own body on the cross, [Jesus] broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” When we allow God to tear down walls between us, we will see how He can then build incredible connections with others. If we place Jesus as the cornerstone in each of our relationships and let Him build each relationship, we will then be “built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
With over thirty years of experience as an educator, minister, and licensed professional counselor, Tammy Melton, LPC holds ministerial credentials with Harvest Network International and is the founder of Legacy Ministries for Christ, Incorporated and Legacy Freedom, LLC. Tammy desires to see people set free with tools of inner healing and relational unity. Tammy and Bill, her husband of 36 years, live in Fayetteville, GA and have two adult daughters.