Covenant Relationships: Commitment and Time

The following post is an excerpt from my 2010 book, Living Life with Strings Attached. Enjoy!

photo-two-girls-talking-on-dock-1

Real relationships require a couple of non-negotiables to flourish: commitment and time.

Webster defines “commitment” as: the state or instance of being obligated or emotionally compelled. Of course, it also defines commitment as consignment to a mental
institution, but for now let’s stick to the first definition. 🙂

I like to substitute the word, “covenant” for “commitment.” A covenant is a “binding agreement or pact.” So, in essence, Strings Attached relationships require three things up front.

First, they require COMMITMENT. In order to build deep, trusting, friendships you can count on to help you with everything from plunging your toilet to moving to offering a shoulder to cry on, you have to be emotionally compelled to act for your friend from day one. You have to be committed to caring for your friends.

Secondly, they require COVENANT. Did you ever prick your finger, watch your friend prick hers and then press them together, becoming blood sisters? My best friend’s mom was a bit of germ-o-phobe, so we became “toothpaste” sisters instead. But, I remember clearly the
day we sat in her little playhouse in the backyard, with the sign on the door that said, “NO BOYZ ALLOWED!” – as though that ever kept her little brother out – and pressed our thumbs, slathered with toothpaste, together while boldly declaring that we were, indeed, blood sisters and
would always be there for each other. We were nine and understood the idea of a covenant relationship more clearly than most adults do today. That day we made a pact to stand by one another.

God was clear about the nature of covenant relationships. They are the kind of relationships we were created for –that He created us to have with Him. It is full-fledged commitment. It doesn’t mean just knowing and understanding Him, but caring, loving and fully surrendering to His overarching plan for our lives. Walking with Him, interceding for Him with others, and
fulfilling our active role in the relationship.

He built us to be blood sisters with each other. He wants us to model our heavenly relationship in our physical relationships on earth.

The third thing these relationships require is TIME. All things grow with time, and that includes friendship. Time is one of our most valuable and valued commodities. True relationships are built with time spent together, learning about one another and understanding one another.

So are you willing? Are you ready to form deep and long lasting strings attached relationships?

Break out your toothpaste, sisters, ‘cause here we go!

Covenant Relationships: The Series

This blog is the first in a yearlong series exploring the idea of Covenant Relationships. I’d love, ultimately for this to be an ongoing conversation about love, friendship and deeper relationship with God, so would you comment below with your thoughts? Or better yet, consider guest posting on a topic you think might fit?  Send me an email at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.


If I were to sum up in a word what Strings Attached Ministries is all about it would be relationship.  With others, with God, with ourselves- our heart here at SAM is to help Christians people find and build deeper, meaningful relationships in their lives.  This year, I’d like to take some time to be intentional in having a conversation about what practices and disciplines living the connected life requires and what roadblocks stand in our way.

I stumbled across this idea mid-sentence as I was speaking at #Small Town 2012 earlier this month.  As I was wrestling with the insurmountable task of speaking about developing covenant relationships online in ten minutes or less, I made the comment that I “could write an yearlong blog series on this topic and not even scratch the surface.” Hmmmmm…

So here we are, a few weeks later, doing just that.  So this year, let’s have a cup of tea and chat about relationship….and how to make it richer. I thought we would start off by defining what I call covenant relationships.

The word covenant is defined by Webster’s dictionary as:

“Covenant: a usually formal, solemn and binding agreement between two or more parties.”

So in this sense a covenant relationship is a relationship with commitments and obligations.  It is solemn and binding, it has consequences…it is a “strings attached” relationship.  It is the type of relationship God models for us in His relationship with us. It is the type of relationship we were created for.

Most often, when I speak about covenant relationships, people very naturally think of marriage, but I believe God created us for covenant relationships with our family and friends as well.

Over the next year, on Fridays, we will take an in-depth look at what I believe the hallmarks of a covenant relationship are, what practices we need to put in place to learn to develop these in our own relationships and how to overcome the roadblocks that stand in our way.

One last thing (and a confession), it took me three edits to finally commit to writing on this topic once a week on a specific day.  Those of you who have followed my blog long know that I am not always consistent with my writing.  I am making a commitment to you to try harder in this area.  Will you help me?   I could sure use your prayer, your encouragement and, perhaps even your words.  

Upgrade Your Spirit- Finding Community

“Community is like a large mosaic. Each little piece seems so dull and insignificant.  As individual stones, we can do little with them except compare them and judge their beauty and value. When, however, all these little stones are brought together in one big mosaic portraying the face of Christ, who would ever question the importance of any one of them? Together in the one mosaic, each little stone is indispensable and makes a unique contribution to the glory of god.  That’s community, a fellowship of little people who together make God visible in the world.”- Henri Nouwen

Finding ways to engage the community of believers is the central teaching of Strings Attached Ministries.  Learning to plug into and act as a vital part of the Fellowship of Christ is key to truly deepening your relationship with God.

We have focused in the past weeks on deepening our quest for solitude and time to BE with God alone because it is a spiritual discipline that often gets overlooked and laid aside when our lives get busy.  And frankly, because it is the part of MY spiritual walk that I am most called to at this time (Yay- that you are experiencing this learning curve with me!)

However, when I was discussing this series with a friend recently, she asked a question that gave me a moment of pause. “If you are plugged into community, how does solitude fit?”

Hmmmmm….

Then I ran across this in my reading.

“Solitude is not a private space over against a public space of community, nor is it merely a healing space in which we restore ourselves for community life.  Solitude and community belong together; each requires the other as do the center and circumference of a circle.  Solitude without community leads us to loneliness and despair, but community without solitude hurls us into a void of words and feelings.- Bonhoeffer

“A void of words and feelings-“ wow….ummmm….ouch.

This is where I live my life often when I find myself stealing moments with God instead of scheduling time with Him. (Here’s a hint….I am not a very good thief. Stolen moments never happen.) You see, I am learning that it is a fallacy to think that we grow closer to each other only when we talk, play, or work together.

“Solitude is inseparable from community because in solitude we affirm the deepest reality of our lives together, namely, that as a community we are like hands pointing to God in prayer.”-Nouwen

So what does the discipline of community look like? Doesn’t that sound strange? Discipline of community? But without discipline, community becomes a ‘word that refers more to a safe, homey, and EXCLUSIVE place than a space where new life can be received and brought to its fullness.” It requires discipline because to create space for God among us requires us to look past our differences and prejudices and constantly recognize the Spirit of God in each other.

We are called to a level of fellowship far deeper than potlucks and small group studies.  The Greek word used to describe this community is koinoniaKoinonia is a word so rich in meaning no single English definition quite suffices.

“To create a bond between comrades is the meaning of koinonia when people are recognized, share their joy and pains together, and are united because of their common experiences, interests and goals. Fellowship creates a mutual bond which overrides each individual’s pride, vanity, and individualism, fulfilling the human yearning with fraternity, belonging, and companionship. This meaning of koinonia accounts for the ease by which sharing and generosity flow. When combined with the spiritual implications of koinonia, fellowship provides a joint participation in God’s graces and denotes that common possession of spiritual values.

Thus early Christians had a fellowship with God, sharing the common experience of joys, fears, tears, and divine glory. In this manner, those who shared believed their true wealth lay not in what they had, but in what they gave to others. Fellowship is never passive in the meaning of koinonia, it is always linked to action, not just being together, but also doing together. With fellowship comes a close and intimate relationship embracing ideas, communication, and frankness, as in a true, blessed interdependent friendship among multiple group members.” –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koinonia

Community requires a deep understanding of those we choose to fellowship with.  It is vital to our walk with Christ to find and engage a community of believers, those that  walk alongside us, that hold us accountable, and that love us for who we are.  It is also vital that we are our true selves within this community, open and honest and willing to be vulnerable.  This is not an easy feat in this world.  It requires….that’s right….discipline.

Take some time today to reflect on the following questions:

  • Am I a part of a community of believers?
  • Am I truly plugged in or am I ‘just playing church?’
  • Am I open- willing to be vulnerable or am I faking it?
  • How would my walk with Christ change if I truly plugged into fellowship with other believers?

You are a vital piece of the puzzle. Without you our picture is incomplete.

Are you plugged in?

December- Time for an Upgrade?

Recently, a close friend of mine asked if I would participate as a guest expert in spiritual transformation in a 7 week telecourse called “Upgrade Your Life.”  The hour long interview on upgrading your spirit was a wonderful vehicle for putting the core Strings Attached spiritual disciplines down in a deliverable way.

So in an effort to begin next year in a deeper relationship with our God than we left this one, I declare December is Upgrade Your Spirit month.  All month we will be discussing the spiritual disciplines that deepen relationship with God.  I am super excited about this series, mostly because God has laid so much on my heart recently to share with you and, in doing so, soak in myself.  I hope you will join me on this journey.

So where do we start? I, of course, have some ideas, but I would really like to hear yours.  Won’t you leave a comment and share them with this community?