by Richard Johnson
Every list of characteristics that make for strong mental health at every age, especially the maturing years, includes the ability to make and keep friends, and the ability to develop, nurture, and maintain relationships of deep sharing. Christ gives us a model of ultimate love, and calls us to love one another.
Relationship-building is a requirement of the human organism, a requirement that waxes as we mature. Relationship seems woven into the fabric of our existence.
On a physical level as humans learned to cooperate through communal hunting, defense, gathering food, and the like, their chances of survival rose significantly.
On a social level, the better groups learned and practiced relationship-building, the greater their chances for ultimate success.
On a psychological level, the more we become aware of our unique self through interactions with others, the more mentally sound we become.
On a spiritual level, relationship-building is the story of our ongoing dialogue with God. Human encounters prepare us for deeper encounters with God, and help us contact the uniqueness of the wonderful personality given to us by God. The deeper our relationships with others, the closer we grow to the core of our True Self, the place where we find God within.
Each relationship then is a potential forum for divinity-awareness, a unique gift as a new reflection of God. The goal of relationship is to help "partners" express their unique personality, and successful relationships find ways for each "partner" to freely express the depth of his or her personality.
When and if we neglect our relationships, we leave ourselves open for a host of disquieting consequences: from alienation to defensiveness, from irritability to submissiveness, from guilt to anger, and from depression to denial. All manner of human foibles grow more ominous in the absence of sharing-relationships. It's a mystery why relationship is so important for us, yet we know that it is.
I'll be investigating the essentials of relationships in future pieces on the site. For now, if you're interested in learning more about relationship-building in the maturing years, log onto: www.SeniorAdultMinistry.com
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Children encounter models of our Catholic faith through these beautifully illustrated People of Faith cards. Contains a prayer and brief biography on the back of each card.