My Relationships 3 Statements Every Relationship Needs by Kelly Colangelo You were made for relationships. I was made for relationships. We are built for relationships because we come from a relationship – the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. During my life, I’ve been in a number of serious relationships as a daughter, sister, best friend to a few people, good friend to many people, girlfriend, niece, cousin, aunt, granddaughter, Godmother, youth minister, roommate, and the list goes on. That said, I’m not perfect at relationships, I’m not writing this blog telling you that you need to do “this” or “that” with your relationships. There are a lot of ways I struggled and failed to love people well. Through my experiences, though, I have learned that relationships require good communication, respect, sacrifice, understanding, and commitment. I have also learned that embracing the following three statements are necessary for all relationships: I love you. I am sorry. I forgive you. I love you. St. Thomas Aquinas defined love as desiring the greatest good for another. There is nothing more affirming than to know you are loved; to know someone desires the greatest good for you. We need to spend more of our time focusing on the things that truly matter — fostering those relationships in our lives that build us up. After the September 11th attacks in New York City, people who lost family members were interviewed on what they wish their family knew before they passed away. The responses expressed that they all wished they could tell their loved ones, one more time, how much they loved them. Sometimes we are hesitant to say the words I love you. Sometimes fear, worry, shame, and people’s reactions and perceptions inhibit us. While there can be barriers to prevent us from voicing those words, let’s recognize them and not allow them to hinder our ability to express the love we have for others — our parents, siblings, and friends. And not only saying the words “I love you,” but showing them in actions. We can show love by taking the time to write a letter, sending a text, being present and offering a listening ear. “Let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and truth” (1 John 3:18). I am sorry. Saying “I am sorry” is an essential aspect of all healthy relationships and it’s the first step towards the healing process. It took me a long time to realize what it meant to genuinely say “I’m sorry.” Apologizing just for the sake of apologizing is meaningless. We cannot sincerely apologize if we can’t admit to ourselves that we made an error in our actions or in how we hurt someone. This is also where humility comes in. Offering an apology to someone helps to break down the walls and create an environment of compassion. I learned this the hard way with an elementary school friend of mine. As we grew older, we started to be competitive in academics, sports, and just the everyday things we did together, and eventually, the good-natured competition went a little too far. It became a game of trying to prove who was better, and with our pride, we ended up hurting each other. We refused to apologize or even address what was going on because neither wanted to be the one to “give in.” Saying “I’m sorry” is more than admitting who is right or wrong. It is about acknowledging when a wrong is perceived and empathizing with feelings of hurt. While an apology cannot always fix what has happened, it does give hope for rebuilding relationships and expresses how much one values the relationship. I forgive you. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ answered Jesus, ‘but seventy times seven'” (Matthew 18.21-22). Easy, right?! This command from Jesus is not only hard, but also challenging to live out on a daily basis. Forgiveness is about making a conscious decision to let go of bitterness, resentment, hurts, and grudges. When we come to terms with the magnitude of the fact that our perfect God knows every one of our sins, and still chooses to love and forgive us time and time again, it’s easier to offer forgiveness towards others. It’s important to remember, though, that forgiveness is a process. It is not about letting someone off the hook for a wrongdoing or forgetting about the past. Forgiveness is about setting yourself free so that you can move forward. Forgiveness leads to transformation in your own life and your relationships. It is a divine action and propels us to be open to receiving God’s grace and love so we can, in turn, offer that to others. Real relationships are tough, they are messy, but they are worth it. Every time there is a conflict, there is also an opportunity for growth. I love you. I am sorry. I forgive you.