Hey everyone! First of all, I want to thank the folks who made it out to our “First Fridays - Relationships” event. It was a challenging weather day to say the least. Somewhat slippery conditions added to the cold, dark February weather, but a successful event was had, and I want to report back on how the conversation unfolded. As always, they can end up in some pretty unexpected, yet insightful and rewarding places!
We started off with trying to define what a “relationship,” of any kind, actually is - not just the romantic ones or “working” relationships. What does it actually mean to “relate” to someone, and if you do, are you in a “relationship?” Maybe so, maybe not, but a little clarity, or, at least, structure might be found in the words of Jay Shetty, whom, in the video linked below, describes how people come into your life for three reasons: for a season, for a reason, or for a lifetime. Take a minute or two to check it out:
Now, if we want to get technical about it, the etymology of the word “relate” reads as follows:
1520s, "to recount, tell," from Middle French relater "refer, report" (14c.) and directly from Latin relatus, used as past participle of referre "bring back, bear back" (see refer), from re- "back, again" + lātus "borne, carried" (see oblate (n.)).
Meaning "stand in some relation; have reference or respect" is from 1640s; transitive sense of "bring (something) into relation with (something else)" is from 1690s. Meaning "to establish a relation between" is from 1771. Sense of "to feel connected or sympathetic to" is attested from 1950, originally in psychology jargon. Related: Related; relating.
From this, it seems that most folks, when they use the word “relationship,” do so using the most recent, 1950 version - “to feel connected or sympathetic to.” However, there are some nuggets of insight from the other interpretations, in particular, “from re- "back, again" + lātus "borne, carried" (see oblate (n.)).” To be in a relationship is to carry someone with us. Not an inaccurate description at all I would say!
From there, the conversation went in a really interesting direction - the need for sacrifice. Does being in relationship with someone, and therefore “relating” to them and considering their perspective or point of view mean that to enter a relationship is to accept compromise? Pretty undoubtedly, it seems, the answer was yes! But, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! To relinquish total self-interest to someone else may be couched in terms of “I’m sacrificing my Saturday on the couch to do the dishes,” or something similar to that. What, here was REALLY sacrificed? It’s not that the desire to spend 30 minutes on the couch has any real, tangible value. If we look up the etymology of the word “sacrifice,” this is what we get..
c. 1300, "to offer something (to a deity, as a sacrifice)," from sacrifice (n.).
Interestingly, the more common way in which it is taken or implied today, as
"surrender, give up, suffer to be lost"
is reportedly from 1706.
If we take the original meaning of the word “sacrifice” and apply it to the interpersonal dynamics of functioning relationships, the sacrifices that we make for another with whom we are RELATING to, is, literally, a SACRED gift, or a sacrament, or an "outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace." Now we’re talking! What if the “compromises” made to be in a relationship with someone else were seen not as a 1706 “surrendering” where you give something up, but rather as a sign of spiritual grace? If we do that, I would bet that relationships would be much healthier all around for everyone! It turns out it’s not about the physical thing that is being given or foregone, or the time spent doing it. Both of those approaches lead to relationships being transactional and the need or desire for approval from another. However, as Deepak Chopra said,
“This is not a body of flesh and bones, it’s a body of consciousness. It’s a body of light…. The spirit does not need approval, the ego only needs approval.”
Good relationships with others happen via offerings given and received by the spirit, and in the spirit, those offerings are made holy by intention and given by grace. That is why they are truly sacrifices in the 1300’s way, and not transactional compromises in the 1706 way. To be in a relationship with someone does, in fact, mean to carry them with us. We are connected by those sacred gifts that we give to each other, not so by a sense of duty or obligation, but rather gifts of ourselves freely given for the other to carry. It is then up to you to carry them carefully, responsibly, and respectfully, for the other person is carrying you as well.