Week 4 Day 1: Connections with Others

Week 4: My Relationship with Others
Workbook Exercise: My Web of Connections

Watch: Week 4 Day 1: Connections with Others
Who are the “others” in your life with whom you are called to be in relationship?
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Transcript of Video:

In this phase of the course, we’ll be exploring our relationships with others. Spirituality is never a private affair; it always brings us into connection with others. We are called to love by Jesus and to be in relationships of love, to be loving toward others, even toward our enemies. So we want to explore, in growing a Rule of Life, we want to explore what this Rule of Life might have to say to us about being in relationship with others.

We begin perhaps with those whom we find easy to love, with our family members and our friends; and how do we want to nurture those relationships? What can we do to foster intimacy and to grow closer together? What can we do to express our love and to protect our love and to nurture our love in these relationships?

But the Christian message always brings us beyond those who are easy to love and challenges us to love God in the stranger, to find Christ in the stranger, in the outcast, in the marginalized, in the poor, in the oppressed. So how will my Rule of Life help me to reach out beyond just the circle of those whom I find easy to love and touch the lives of others? And even our enemies, how am I called to relate to my enemies and how am I called to be in relationship with them, to pray for them, to love them? What does that mean for me and how will I put that into practice, as it were, in my life? Spirituality is always very practical. It has to do with how our faith impacts how we live from day-to-day and how we interact with people.

So that’s what we are going to be exploring this week. There will be a series of questions that will help us to look at our relationships – our healthy relationships and our broken relationships – to see what we might do to better carry out Jesus’ command to be people of love.

– Br. David Vryhof


  1. Diane Gervais on June 17, 2019 at 09:56

    The «others» I am called to love ❤️ are the ones I already love so much and yet I struggle to deepen these relationships. I live quite superficially. I root for the underdog, the left-behind, the left-out and the abused. I find the grace to be charitable to them, knowing I don’t have to embrace them into my home and family, just a little love and presence and then I can go on.

  2. Lisa Bartoli-DeAngelis on March 25, 2019 at 07:32

    I like to help people. Oh sometimes not so much physically but to let them know I’m thinking of them. I am drawn to reach out to others I think need a little boost but sometimes I realize afterwards it’s me who recieved the boost and felt blessed. It’s all good.

  3. Stan Lewis on March 1, 2017 at 14:07

    My family. God’s church. Strangers. All of creation.

    • Chioma Nwaogu on January 25, 2021 at 20:02

      I have been called by God, and sent to be a neighbor, who is my neighbor- anyone who stands in need of help, anywhere, anytime, and in all circumstances. These are the ones, I am in a relationship with, as I come in contact with them. The main others are members of my family, and my home, where I first learnt to socialize and always return to for affirmation, that takes me back to the outside world, where I meet many less privileged ones, that I must also attend to, by this means I reach out to other created things, that bear the mark of God. In being with others, we expand our ideals of the communal nature of human beings.

  4. Jaan Sass on October 20, 2016 at 19:25

    Who are the “others” in your life with whom you are called to be in relationship?

    This is a interesting question? I lived in a Christian hippy commune for a couple of years. Even there with personal issues I had difficulty with relationships and lived in my own head. This and PTSD aggravated this while I was in the military.
    I am in a healthy place good relationships medicine working toward healing but I still find myself isolating myself.

  5. Marta E on March 13, 2016 at 23:26

    We all have family, church community, neighbors, service community, and others whom we might serve. I am enlarging the service community by working in a hospital and find it very rewarding. I hope that it will successfully lead to something permanent, so I need to work on the paperwork, etc. to support that venture.
    There are others with whom there are difficult relationships. Reconciliation is the most difficult, but prayer and peaceful silence work. While away visiting my daughter and their children, I took the book, “Living Buddha, Living Christ” by a Viet Nam monk of 20 years which had been recommended to me last semester. It was a miraculous gift, an extended discussion of calm and peacefulness leading to meditation and contemplation. It soothed me so that I was able to remain calm and peaceful even in an environment which previously could have provoked me to unnecessary response. I was able to remain calm and undisturbed so that relationships with the children were able to be very fruitful. Thanks be to God!

  6. Margaret on March 11, 2016 at 21:33

    The others are of course family, friends, acquaintances and also all the other people that God puts in our path each day. You might have only a few minutes to show that other person your loving kindness bit I feel we are always called to do so. The other might be a person you have bad feelings for but in some way we are required to show love and compassion for that person. To forgive is to accept Gods grace and to show it forth to others. We are called to always be the hands and feet of Jesus in our thoughts words and deeds.

  7. Alan Rollins on March 9, 2016 at 19:58

    This isn’t something that I’ve actively dealt with, ever. I have been so within myself, that I have never actively approached others to foster any close relationship of any real meaning. I have what I consider three close friends, but I don’t see any of them with any regularity. I consider them “close” because I have engaged in some very deep, personal conversations with them for over 30 years; and, I trust them with all that is said. They trust me as well, and I have never given them reason not to. But my own fears have prevented me from engaging more with them over several years: fears of my own dishonesty about my weight, fears of showing them I’ve not lived up to my potential, even a fear of inviting them into my own apartment because it isn’t where I’d imagined where I would be at 59yrs. I know I’ve taken the coward’s way out, because they might actually be more honest with me, than I with them. Brother Curtis said no dissing ourselves allowed. Well, one focal point in all of my relationships is my reintroduction of myself to my friends, my family, and to those that have been close to me, but for one reason or another, I have neglected. I need to touch base with the world, with God’s help.

  8. Donald Sutton III on March 2, 2016 at 13:42

    When it comes to my family and friends they know that I am here for them if they need help and that I help out when I can without looking for recognition or rewards. I also will not go tell other people any private conversations me and a friend or family have. When it comes to strangers I try to help out if I am able, in fact I have had people I didn’t know ask me for money to get food and I offered to take that person to the nearest store and buy them food and they have declined. The only reason I do that is because some people go and buy something they don’t need like alcohol and I would rather see them have something to eat. I am also in the process of finding a ministry that will put me in a position to help others out. Right now I am just beginning to be a LEM in church but need to go through training to be able to bring communion to those that can’t make it to church but want to receive communion. I am also working on trying to join the outreach committee at my church. This easter I am sponsoring a child so they have something to look forward to this Easter.

  9. a city monk on March 2, 2016 at 12:58

    I recently became an orphan… a year ago. Part of those elements of aging, when I realize that I have out lived my family relationships. About the same time, I also accepted that “church” expects ‘family’ to step up and care for the elderly. Those who had been in the community for generations, who were left behind as their children outgrew their parents – had deep relationships but those new, or transplanted, it seemed – nope, not going to get close enough to become ‘responsible’ or a caregiver by default down the road some day.
    There is no one in the wings… standing close enough to be… there.
    And perhaps, it is this reality that makes the embracing of a rule of life all the more compelling now, as my closest companions are the strangers of the day, a living psalmody formed in the laundromat, grocery store, and road way. Accepting the hermitage life, not imposing the ‘shoulds’ that muddle… is the turning of the soil of this new garden. Truly, a new garden, one to be discovered, and celebrated as a gift of Sabbath at 70…

    …in 1950 only 10% of people over 65 lived alone.
    … now among women… Almost half of older women (46%) age 75+ live alone.

  10. JV on March 1, 2016 at 09:08

    My biggest issue with others where I need to learn to be in a better relationship with are some extended family. I have pretty much given up on any contact with them, or having any relationship with them because they are just not a part of my world. In one instance, I have given up on my niece, whom I adored and spent so much time with when she was little. She is just somewhere I cannot reach…and over time, have no longer cared that I cannot be a part of her world. She seems to have no interest in being a part of mine.

  11. Eugene Wright on March 1, 2016 at 01:18

    My church family is great! My relationship with my brother and his family is excellent. I loved my parents and Grand mother very much but they are no more. I love my wife but I am catching hell with her. I am praying that she will support me completely in the Diaconate program that I am pursuing, but at the moment she is not completely responsive. I have friends that I really love in a platonic way. We study together, pray and worship together. I also have acquaintances that I love and I share other aspects of my life with.

  12. Stan on February 29, 2016 at 19:48

    Wow. I’ve been really enjoying the fellowship of the folks who have joined me in replying to these questions. I’ve actually developed a feeling of of kinship with some of them. But today, I’m getting a general feeling of darkness and pain on this page. People longing for the ability to love.

    I have certainly built my share of walls. The walls of prejudice. Being unable to love people because they aren’t like me, without even attempting to get to know them. Worse still, actually sharing jokes and generally saying disrespectful things about people of other cultures when I’m talking with people of my own culture.

    This is the greatest weed in my garden. I have been working hard at eradicating this prejudice weed, and I am finally beginning to feel some small progress.

    I work for a company which hires people of many different cultures. This has given me the opportunity to work with many people who don’t look, sound, or even act like me. And I have gotten to know many of them. This has enabled me to add some doors and windows intro my walls, so I can actually look at these people within their environment without being afraid to have an open mind. This helps me understand. And I’ve come to the conclusion that they are all simply people living their lives, just like me. Their cultures are different than mine, but their human motivations and emotions are just like mine. We are all the same.

    I now understand this, and I embrace what it’s done for me, yet I will still find myself entangled in the weeds more often than I’d like to admit. For no reason. Disrespectful thoughts still come out, and I am still amused by them. It still comes immediately, as a reaction to my very deep-rooted weeds. But now I keep finding myself telling me to “Stop it, Stan”. There. I just pulled out one more sprout of prejudice.

  13. gwedhen nicholas on February 29, 2016 at 17:27

    I am called into relationship with my family and friends of course. I am a bit puzzled by my relationship with my ex-husband…maybe close friends…I don’t know. That is a whole kettle of fish I won’t get into! I don’t find I have anyone in my life with whom I need to mend my relationship. I don’t know how to get in touch with others who might need me, and who I might not be feel comfortable with….but to see Jesus in them anyway. I pray that I might have this opportunity. (Be careful what you ask for Gwedhen!). I feel in good relationship to everyone because God not only loves me, but loves everyone whom he has created. So if I love God, I can share that love with others beside my family and friends; or those outside my circle. I want to love like this. I want to share myself with others to their benefit; not be so inward. I have a rich inner life, so it is difficult to tear myself away from it. I must learn!

  14. Debbie on February 29, 2016 at 11:28

    Years ago when I was born I had parents, after that they had a boy who turned in to my estranged brother. My parents had numerous brothers and sisters. They in turned had cousins. Now that my parents are gone my cousins have turned in to my brothers and sisters. I married and my husband had brothers and sisters and they are mine brothers in sisters though their loyalty’s lie with my husband. I have two daughters. They are brilliant and hard working young woman. I have a church family and I have to thank previous pastors who tried to protect my innocence. Once that was gone my church family be came very less that that. I hate the scrutiny and I hate having to watch what I say to whom. I never had a problem with that before. My enemy’s are the ones who have hurt me who I have less and less of a relationship with because I am running out of life in order to deal with them. I am a member of a fire company who are a very different set of people. Each are hard working and each have their own lifestyles which I learn from. We are a sub sect of a culture that is dwindling but not totally gone. A business company which has very little employees had a culture these people brought in to their home lives and we have learned are living a lie. They have many superficial relationships and very little personal ones. So you know who you have and you know how to both deal with and treat them.

  15. Muriel Akam on February 29, 2016 at 06:29

    I love my family but sometimes difficulties in our relationship- being taken for granted, doing too much , too little etc but on the whole I am happy but feel I could do more to reach out to the larger family- aunts, uncles, cousins whom I have neglected due to living overseas most of the time due to my husband’s job. I give to charity and volunteer , pray for religious militants to have a change of view . I could Do more , actions speak louder than words but do not wish to be a ‘do gooder’. I guess it is reaching a balance .

  16. Suzanne on February 28, 2016 at 20:46

    The “others” would be the next door neighbor’s next door neighbor, or the lady ringing up my grocery purchase. People I may see more regularly but do not know. Then there are “others” I may never know. Like today, at the grocery, the woman whose toddler was screaming unmercifully. Hearing the child from across the store, I was curious who the caregiver was. There in the dairy section was a young mother trying to console her child. I stopped to ask if she needed help and spent a few minutes with them. There are many of other “others.” I believe that God calls me to be attentive to those around me and to listen to what he would want me to hear and to do what he asks of me. I don’t always get that right but I keep trying.

  17. susan zimmerman on February 28, 2016 at 20:00

    …never received a call…other than acolyte warden and coffee hour…been waiting a lifetime

  18. Russell on February 28, 2016 at 13:56

    The obvious ones are family, friends, faith community and fellow citizens. And, short of drawing a line around the entire globe, I know that the strangers I am called to be in relationship with are generally the people who I serve through mission. In those efforts, I have been touched by helping the poor and disposed of New Orleans, and the Blackfeet Nation. And those missions have also called me into relationship with clergy and fellow parishioners of all ages. The needs I feel are most compelling for me are the homeless and those who are sexually trafficked. I have a specific and unresolved anger about child prostitution that I have not found an outlet for over the years. I hear this as a call to be in relationship with the oppressed. I feel I will be joyful if I can find a way to put this hurt into action.

    • Mary Lucia on March 9, 2016 at 15:31

      Hi Russell,
      Check out http://www.thistlefarms.org. This is the social enterprise that supports the Magdalene community in Nashville, TN, which is a two-year residential program for women who have survived trafficking, prostitution, or addiction. Since being founded by Episcopal priest Becca Stevens in
      1997, other cities (St. Louis, Fayetteville, AR, New Orleans) have started similar communities, so there may be one near you with which you could participate directly or there are things you can do from a distance. Perhaps this could be an outlet for answering your call.

  19. L.S. on February 28, 2016 at 11:27

    In the dormancy of the garden, in the darkness of the soil, there is a lot stirring. Right now I’m trying to learn how to forgive, which will enable new relationships to grow from old splinters. Recognizing that we all are changing, and that relationships need to change as a result, has become a very present truth right now.

  20. Linda on February 28, 2016 at 10:09

    The others in my life are from the past, the present and as I meet new people the future. I remind myself over and over that they all have good souls and are loved by God, even if I have difficulty loving them. So as these folks parage through my life, I give to them what I can and ask God that it be enough.

  21. John L on February 28, 2016 at 09:25

    Teresa wrote somewhere about conversing with God and others simultaneously. When I approach the other as other I have already begun to judge, which usually causes me to
    feel proud or frustrated. Brain science now tells us that our brains read each other in a flash, so I think it must start with me and my awareness of God at all times. I love Buber’s story of his beloved horse. One morning, stroking it’s mane, he became aware of his hand and the Thou became an It. He said he immediately felt judged by the horse, as if it knew, and he was ashamed.

  22. Bill Spies on February 28, 2016 at 08:58

    The others are Family, Friends, fellow church members, merchants meet, another that I come in contact with. So I need to listen for their needs, wants, etc. to better understand them and help them where possible.

    • Jane on March 5, 2016 at 11:33

      wonderful! your intention to listen and the listening and understanding you will do are such powerful gifts to others

  23. Sara on February 28, 2016 at 08:07

    This came at a most perfect time. I am currently traveling with 8 undergraduates with whom I work. We are on a spring break service trip around issues of personal violence. I am still learning how to love the students I am with and pray that this week’s exercises will help me grow in that love.

    • Debbie McMahon on March 3, 2016 at 06:23

      God bless you and your work.

  24. Debbie McMahon on February 28, 2016 at 08:00

    I have walls that I’ve built.My circumstances have changed and I have an opportunity to build anew. God, help me to have strong but not harsh boundaries. Help me to manage my expectations of others and of myself. I want others in my life, but I have been quite unsuccessful with anyone but my husband. Help me to find balance and to appreciate the others.

    • Dorothy on February 28, 2016 at 10:22

      First of all, forgive yourself and be gentle with yourself, then you will be able to love yourself. Then you will be able to more easily love others.

      • Debbie McMahon on March 3, 2016 at 06:22

        Thank you for putting that perspective on it. Despite my achievements, I do still live with a core of shame. I guess I needed to think about how my self-image affects my ‘other’ relationships. I am getting old, patience is wearing thin, I never seem to master the art of relationship with ‘others’, but I will not stop praying nor will I stop trying. I get lonely.

  25. Jim V on February 28, 2016 at 07:27

    The “others” are people God put me together with, put in my way and put to accompany me along my paths.
    These would be my family, my parents, my sisters, my wife, my children, uncle and cousins.
    These would be my congregation, the people I work with, the people who I encounter on my walk of life.
    These would be my friends, my mentors, my soul mates.

  26. Betty Donahue on February 28, 2016 at 06:41

    This is a very difficult day to answer this question because yesterday brought forth all the people in my life who are easy to love as well as the two people in my life who are not easy. I understand and accept that God loves all people even those who I find difficult to love… I long to accept that they are people God loves and long to have a relationship where i love them too.

  27. Kristi on February 28, 2016 at 06:20

    I’ve always thought of myself as a loving person who strives to care for others in my relationships. From being a wife, mother, daughter, sister. friend and beyond. Nurturing is part of who I am. I do struggle greatly with Gods task that we love & pray for our enemies, I know this is a common issue for many. How can you love someone who goes out of their way to cause intentional pain to others? I’m not able to say I love that person, but I think I can pray for them, that they can receive gods love & guidance to see the error of their ways. Maybe God will find a way to show them through his work where they have gone astray & bring them back to goodness, I can pray for that everyday.

  28. Ruth West on February 27, 2016 at 17:50

    In this election year with the various political views, they sometimes test our relationships with others. “Liberal vs. Conservative;” “too soft-spoken vs. bullying”; “liar vs. truth-teller” etc.
    the labels go on and on. I find some friends can literally “pick at” those who have opposite views.
    This is real life! How can we overcome such and love in the face of diversity? I am working on it!
    But I know I cannot succeed without letting go and letting God occupy my heart, mind and body!
    My mother often had us children memorize scripture passages. Those have been better than a bank account in my life. A favorite is: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Oh, how I need to remember that one!
    God is love, and with His Holy Spirit, we can live a life of love in our relationships with others, whether it be family, friends or enemies. Thanks for your good sermon.

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