In this talk, Megan talks about how having meaningful relationships is important to our lives, and how we can learn from Jesus to become better at establishing them
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Reflective Study Guide Questions
“The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”Mt. 22:39
1. Megan points out that the Catechism says our relationships with others are essential to us being able to live out our vocation. How much importance do you tend to put on your relationships with others?
2. Many people have the tendency to seek from other people the love they need to experience from God. Have you ever experienced this tendency? How can you work on constantly seeking the love of God first in your life?
3. When our relationships with others are not properly ordered, we can have a tendency to use other people rather than loving them selflessly. Have you ever struggled with using others? How can you work on loving others more selflessly?
4. In Scripture, Jesus gives us an example of how we should model our relationships with others. He was attentive to others’ needs, but He always did God’s will first. How can you model your relationships with others after Jesus’ example?
Text: Healing in Our Relationships with Others
Hi, there. I’m Megan Hjelmstad. And as we continue this journey of responding to God’s invitation to deeper healing, today, we’re going to talk about healing in our relationships with others.
So, let’s get started in prayer. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Come Holy Spirit. Come Lord Jesus. Come heavenly Father. Lord, thank you for creating us, for relationship in the model of the Holy Trinity. Thank you for all of the people in our lives. Those who fulfill us and encourage us. Those who challenge us. Thank you for the sanctifying work You’re calling us to. I’m inviting you into our relationships to bring greater healing, to write order our intentions and our attentions to others. And to allow You to bear the fruit of greater love and unity in our lives, in our relationships, and in our world. We thank You. We praise You. We glorify You. We pray all of this in the most holy and sacred name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Amen. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
A Recovering People Pleaser
So, I am a recovering people pleaser or to put it more euphemistically, a people pleaser in the midst of, in the process of sanctification. So, when I was a little girl growing up, I wanted to be just like my dad. He was in the army, and he was just such a great role model in so many ways. So I decided at the ripe young age of seven that when I grew up I was going to join the army, just like him. And I did. I went to the United States Military Academy for college. I met my husband there, and we served full time in the army for five years before. Now, serving part-time for many, many years after.
It was a wonderful experience. And it has been an incredible environment, where I’ve learned so much discipline, sacrifice, and leadership, but I’ve also become aware of the double edge sword of this environment that I’ve been in and kind of grown up in of the pressure and perfectionism and people pleasing that so much a part of it. And I can imagine that you, in your relationships, in your own particular circumstances have experienced much of the same thing.
You know, for me, it’s been a constant struggle in almost all areas of my life. This people pleasing tendency. And it prompts the question for us in this struggle. How is it that we are to love others as Christ commands us, to be in relationship with them, yet also maintain healthy boundaries? Well, the answer for at least 99.9% of us is not to become a hermit as tempting as that is, and escape it all. The answer is to allow God greater priority in our relationships.
We are Made for Relationships
But before we dive into that too much, I’d love to talk a little more about the importance of relationship in our lives. See, the catechism itself says that we are made for relationship. We’re made for relationship and community. In Paragraph 1879, the catechism says this. The human person needs to live in society. It’s a need. It’s not even a want. It’s a need. Society is not for him, an extraneous addition, but a requirement of his nature. It’s a requirement of our nature. Through the exchange with others mutual service and dialogue, with his brother and man develops his potential. And he does responds to his vocation.
Did you hear that? This society relationship community is central for us to be able to live out our vocation, our very vocation. That’s pretty important and powerful. But the catechism also goes on to say, in Paragraph 1880, a society is a group of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that goes beyond each one of them. It goes beyond each one of them. It’s looking outside of ourselves. That is the key.
In scripture, Jesus gives us this model Himself. In Matthew 22:36, the Pharisees are asking Jesus, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment?” And He says this, We’ve all heard it before. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind.” This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Did you catch that? Did you catch the order? The very first commitment is to love God. And the second is to love our neighbor. But so often, we have this flipped, don’t we? So often, we have even in very subtle ways, this self-focus when we approach our relationships or community, and we don’t realize that we are not actually creating a greater community, we are using others for our own sake.
So, when we put others’ opinions, desires, their very importance in our life, above the opinions, the desires, the commandments of God to love Him first, love of neighbor can actually become an idol. It can actually become an idol in our life. And it causes us to not only hold other humans in higher esteem than God, but it causes us to use them for our own ends rather than loving them selflessly as we’re commanded. We’re motivated so often, not out of this malicious intent, but really out of insecurity, out of insecurity and desire to be affirmed in who we are. But this is actually a form of pride, and this pride, it just twists the love and the unity that God desires for us into something that causes us to use each other and hurt each other and break down the bonds of community.
Maybe you’ve experienced how coming to a situation, weighing the importance of a certain relationship or interaction based on how it might benefit you, or how others might respond to you maybe. Even if you haven’t necessarily dealt with this issue of people pleasing in that particular way, you’ve actually looked down upon others or impugn them to make yourself feel more important or superior. In this sense, whether or not, we’re quote-unquote “people pleasers”, we can all be people pragmatists. We can all use others for our own ends.
Three Questions to Ponder On
So, in prayer one day when I was really wrestling with this tendency of mine, with this deep wound that I had experienced and had reinforced all throughout my life, the Lord spoke very tenderly to me and to my heart. And He posed three questions to me that have really helped me to write order my relationships with Him and love Him first and my relationships with others and love them selflessly.
And these are the three questions He posed to me. “Will you let me, God, love you more than they, others, love you?” That’s the first one. “Will you let me love you more than others love you?” The second question He asked, “Will you let yourself love Me more than you love them, others, or the attention and affirmation that you get from them?” And the third question that He posed to me. “Will you let them love Me more than they love you?” And whew, boy, did that one get my attention. “Will you let them love Me more than they love you?”
See, we oftentimes really seek others based on how they make us feel, how much they can elevate our status, or how much they can even relieve our self-doubt and our anxiety, don’t we? And when we put that demand on someone else, we draw their focus to us rather than pointing them to God. We do them a disservice, and we actually make it more difficult for them to love God freely when we put the focus on ourselves. But Jesus, thank goodness for His example, He is the ideal and He shows us all throughout scripture how we can write order our relationships, how we can love others selflessly and love God first and also maintain those healthy boundaries that we all need in relationships when others are maybe not loving God before they’re loving or using us.
Learning from Jesus
See, Jesus, even in that scripture passage where He’s giving us the greatest commandment, He was being tested by the Pharisees. When they asked, “Teacher, what is the greatest commitment?” Is because they were having an argument with the Sadducees, and they wanted Jesus to prove them right. They weren’t asking because they actually wanted to know, they were just trying to get a little extra authority on their side. And so Jesus didn’t respond to them in the way they wanted Him to, with what they wanted to hear. He responded by saying, “These are the commandments that encompass all the others.” And if you’re so focused on the specifics of these laws and you miss the love behind them, they’re empty. They’re empty.
And so Jesus shows us not only there, but in His continual attentiveness to others as He traveled around and healed, that He was always willing to be in relationship with others, but He was always doing God’s will first. He never sought popularity or likes. He never enabled unhealthy behavior. He met people where they were, but He invited them to repentance, to belief, to healing to restoration, and to sanctification. He didn’t unencourage unhealthy behavior. And by the time He got to His passion on the cross, nearly everyone had rejected or abandoned Him.
Even then He didn’t change His approach, He didn’t say, “Well, maybe I’ll just say something different or try to make people like me more so I can escape this horrific suffering or this sadness of this rejection.” He remained faithful to God’s will. He didn’t chase after people who chose to reject God’s will. He offered it to them. He invited them, but He didn’t force. And neither should we.
Examine Our Interactions and Intentions
So, the key when we’re in relationship with others is to examine our intentions, the intentions behind our actions, our conversations, our interactions with others. And when we seek albeit imperfectly because we’re imperfect humans to seek God’s love and attention more than others, become so much more secure in our own identity. And we don’t need as much of that or feel as much of that temptation to seek it from others. Just like we talked about in the first video.
So, when we put God in His proper place in our everyday conversations and interactions, we allow others to fall into their proper place in our lives. And it helps us accept our own highest value as a child of God. And as a result, see and accept others in their value as a child of God. Not because of what they can do for us. Not because of how they treat us. Not as any more or less important than us, but as an equally beloved child of God.
Will you let God love you more than others love you? Will you let yourself love God more than you love others? Will you desire for others to love God more than you desire for them to love you? So next time you’re tempted to either put someone on a pedestal and blow through your boundaries, or next time you’re tempted to look down upon them for your own benefit, or next time you’re tempted to maybe change something superficially about yourself or your behavior interactions, I invite you to pray one of the following based on those questions. Lord, help me let You love me more than they love or admire me. Lord, help me prize and accept Your love more than I prize the admiration or affirmation of others. Lord, help me pray for others to seek You and love You more than they could ever seek or love me.
Let’s pray. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Come Holy Spirit. All Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end. Amen. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
About Megan Hjelmstad
Megan Hjelmstad is a Catholic writer and speaker based in Denver, CO, and a team member of a global Catholic women’s ministry called Blessed is She. Megan delights in her vocation as a wife and hockey mom 24/7 and she serves an Army Reservist in her “spare” time. Megan adores books, sleep, sunshine, and Colorado’s great outdoors—and she especially loves working individually with women to help them discover their God-given dignity through The Well Mentorship Program.