What kind of relationships do I need to be truly happy?

What kind of relationships do I need to be truly happy?

Relationships matter

Relationships are important because they define us as human beings. To be authentically human, someone said, is to exist in relationships. Happiness has to do with the knowledge of being loved. Relationships define our identity. Not any kind of relationships brings happiness. Only loving relationships bring happiness in our lives as nothing else can do.

A famous rock singer, Freddie Mercury, once said that success had brought him fame and lots of money. However, before his death, he confessed that he missed the one thing really needed, “a loving, ongoing relationship.” Not only loving but ongoing relationships make the difference. This involves commitment.

Evidence that relationships matter

A nearly 80-year-old study has proven that “embracing community helps us live longer, and be happier.” The study revealed that “close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.” Furthermore, they discovered through this study that “loneliness kills. It is as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.” And the key to healthy aging is “relationships, relationships, relationships.”

This study resonates surprisingly with what we read in the Bible. From the repeated words in the creation narrative of everything being good we have a sudden break with the words “it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” God created human beings in his own image and likeness, “in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” We are relational beings.

The reality of loneliness in our times

Loneliness is a real problem in our times. I asked a group of students in a university in Utrecht what could be a problem students are facing. They didn’t need much time to come with an answer. Loneliness and the need for loving relationships were on the top of their list. This generation has social media but still, it feels lonely. Business is a challenge for many people. Things go fast. Some struggle to catch up with things. Others have made it their aim to reach the top. A very successful novelist once was asked what he would like to have known as a boy. Here is what he said, “that when you get to the top, there’s nothing there.”

Relationships and true love

Love is important for good relationships. Our lives become meaningful when true love is part of our daily lives. The Beatles with their song “all we need is love” pointed to the brokenness of their generation which was struggling with racial tensions. The sad thing was that they ended up suing each other.

True love is more than a song that expresses an idea. Someone said that “love is not free” but it is the nature of love to bind itself.” This means that love is not selfish. To gratify our desires is not true love. For relationships to grow and become meaningful commitment is unavoidable. Relationships are messy. Relationships are complicated. But the one thing that can make relationships blossom and grow is true love.

Finding and experiencing true love

Jesus taught about love many times. But more than this he talked about his love relationship with his Father in heaven. In one occasion he said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now, remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

According to Jesus true love can be experienced in a personal relationship with God. This relationship brings joy and leads us to loving, ongoing, meaningful relationships with others. It gives meaning to life. Here you can read more about this love. A good way to find out more about Jesus’ teaching about true love is to join the Alpha Course. I will be happy to answer questions you might have.

 

Notes

– This blog is a shortened version of a talk I gave at SEARCH, university mission in Utrecht in 2018. I also reworked it and used it at Grace Church on March 10th 2019. Here is the outline of the talk.

– Alister McGrath, Mere Apologetics

– Harvard study of adult development

Bible Gateway. Online Bible in different versions. I used the NIV, New International Version in this blog.

Questions of Life: An Opportunity to Explore the Meaning of Life

– Ravi Zacharias, Can man live without God? 

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