“Just as water reflects the face, so one human heart reflects another.”

Proverbs 27:19


Notes for Contemplation as You Use this Devotional:

  • This wisdom from the Book of Proverbs comes from the section sometimes titled “On Friendship and Paradox.” It suggests that we gain self-knowledge through our connections with others, as well as through introspection.
  • The reflection noted here doesn’t mean that we try to mirror another’s personality. Rather, it encourages us to reflect the same unconditional positive regard for others we also want to receive.
  • The Book of Proverbs is treasured because it teaches us how to develop a spiritually mature, emotionally healthy character. Imagine it as an ancient “Do-This-Not That” compendium still applicable to our 21st century lives.
  • Science teaches that our hearts are sophisticated processing centers which contain thousands of sensory neurons. These neurons transmit information to our brains, reminding us that our hearts have their own distinct intelligence.
  • When we’re willing to connect deeply with someone, we can know their heart, learning about them and their experiences. By being open-hearted, we may feel more compassion for their struggles or better understand their life choices.
  • While we may not agree with another’s motivations, heart-felt connections require that we listen to and honor them, even if they’re different from us. As we notice our feelings about them, whatever those feelings are, we can distinguish between a person’s behavior and their sacred worth as a divine child of God. For example, you might dislike your co-worker’s vaping, but enjoy collaborating with them on group projects.
  • Demonstration is the evidence you can see of what is or isn’t working in your life. You demonstrate love, compassion, and harmony when you’re self-aware and introspective.This helps you focus on how you want to be, rather than on what the other person must do.  With a heart-centered approach, you aren’t trying to analyze or change people.  You love them for who they are.
  • Relationships falter when we:
    • Attempt to fix and/or control.
    • Insinuate ourselves into other people’s business with our own advice, beliefs, or neediness.
    • Gossip and/or tell other people’s stories without their permission.
    • Berate, abuse, or threaten harm.
    • Violate boundaries.
    • Ignore our own unhealed wounds or trauma.
    • Excuse addictions, ours or another’s.
    • Cheat, lie, hoard, and/or steal.
    • Create dramas and upheavals.
  • Relationships thrive when we:
    • Can be a gentle presence no matter what’s occurring.
    • Provide autonomy and safe space for communication, movement, growth, and rest.
    • Listen willingly and actively.
    • Show appreciation.
    • Maintain and respect boundaries.
    • Offer forgiveness and grant grace.
    • Collaborate to solve problems.
    • Express needs and desires clearly and directly.
    • Accept and acknowledge differences.
  • In her 1986 book, Love-Powered Living, Rev. Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann recommends that we avoid criticizing and condemning people. She says, “You can always find some good to love. . . . Even in the most unlikely situations . . . you can find it and bring it out.  Do it, for your own sake.”

Contemplation Questions:

As you reflect on your life and circumstances, ask yourself:

  • In what ways am I faltering in my relationships?
    • List, word map, or illustrate whatever applies and with whom.
  • In what ways am I thriving in my relationships?
    • List, word map, or illustrate whatever applies and with whom.
  • In what ways do I expect others to be like me?
    • List, word map, or illustrate your expectations.
  • In what ways do I give people room to be who they truly are?
    • List, word map, or illustrate all the ways.
  • What are at least three (3) ways I can open my heart to be more loving in each of my relationships?
    • List, word map, or illustrate as many ways as you can imagine.
    • Then, list, word map, or illustrate what you’re willing to do to help them thrive.

Be gentle with yourself as you use this devotional.  Even if you notice some stumbling blocks in your relationships, stay open to contemplating how you can transform them.  Also, avoid berating yourself for any previous mistakes.  Know that you did the best you could before, and now you are choosing to do better.  Especially, as Rev Hausmann recommends, be more loving for your own sake, and keep your heart open to be loved in return.

© 2023 – Rev Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved.

Photo from Shutterstock by Eugene_Photo.

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