Developing deeper relationships is the topic of today’s show, and is a follow-up to last week’s episode, no. 171. It was an encore episode of an interview I did with Charley and Ruth Shirley in late 2018. It came about from Charley’s Facebook post with a photo of his wife of 30 some years cleaning the grave marker of Charley’s first wife who was killed in a tragic car accident five months into their marriage. I’ve posted Charley’s Facebook photo in the show notes. It was taken by Charley and Ruth’s adult daughter, Lucy.
It’s a beautiful story I hope you go back to listen to if you haven’t already heard it. Their story illustrates eight principles that can help each of us develop deeper relationships in our own lives. And that’s what I’m going to talk about in today’s show.
Welcome to You Were Made for This
Welcome to You Were Made for This. If you find yourself wanting more from your relationships, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll discover practical principles you can use to experience the life-giving relationships you were made for.
I am your host, John Certalic, author and relationship coach, here to help you find more joy in the relationships God designed for you.
If you’re new to the podcast, the easiest way to access upcoming episodes is to go to JohnCertalic.com and click on the follow or subscribe button. That’s John with an “H” and Certalic with a “C” at the beginning and the end. Dot com.
Last week’s episode, #171
In last week’s episode, #171, Charley tells the story of his wife, Ruth, and their adult daughter Lucy, who were returning from taking their oldest daughter off to graduate school out East. On their way home, they were passing through Youngstown, Ohio where Charley’s first wife was buried. Some time ago Charley had mentioned to Lucy that if she were ever near Youngstown he would appreciate it if she would stop by the grave of his first wife, Bev, and pay her respects.
Charley started by talking about Lucy calling him at work while she and Ruth were near Youngstown, Ohio to get directions to find the grave, which was a bit of a challenge. Anxious to get home from their thousand-mile road trip, Ruth spoke about initially not wanting to stop. But she knew it would mean a lot to Charley, and also to their youngest daughter Lucy. So she did.
Once they found the grave marker, Ruth cleaned it up with the only thing she had – her car keys. While she did, Lucy snapped a picture of Ruth cutting weeds and grass from around the grave marker. Ruth talked about how this moment deeply affected her and Lucy, how they both cried, and how Ruth described it as standing on “holy ground.” Ruth also talked about the profound effect this had on Lucy.
Deeper relationships sometimes cast shadows
Charley talked about the shadow that Lucy cast while taking a picture of her mother cleaning the grave marker. He saw a connection in this shadow between Lucy and Bev, as they were both the second child of their respective parents.
He summed it up best when he said the point of this story for him was about healing. How what his 2nd wife, and 2nd daughter, did to honor his first wife brought closure to a tragedy that happened over 30 years ago.
That was the interview in a nutshell of episode #171.
I came away from our time together with Charley and Ruth with several important lessons and principles about deeper relationships that would serve all of us well if we practiced them in our relationships.
Principles and observations about deeper relationships
1.Healing often takes time. Sometimes a long time. It had been over 33 years since Charley’s first wife, Bev, had died. And this graveyard story of a few years ago contributed to Charley’s healing. We need to be patient with others and ourselves with the time it takes to heal. For Charley, and for some of us, the healing comes from clarifying what our future holds.
2. It pays to listen well to people, especially the people closest to us. On the way home from Connecticut to Wisconsin, Lucy REMEMBERED what her dad had said, “If you ever are near Youngstown, Ohio…..” Lucy had a holy curiosity about her dad’s past. She asked about Bev. She wanted to know, because she realized that this particular relationship is an important part of his life. And her relationship with her dad is an important part of hers.
To care well usually takes sacrifice. I felt for Ruth in this story. After moving your daughter into a 3rd-floor apartment on a hot summer day, and then start off on a thousand-mile road trip back home, and then to take a time-consuming detour to look for the grave of someone you never met, well that’s sacrifice.
Limited resources should not hold us back
4. Sometimes the best care we can provide is when we have limited resources and don’t know what to do. Ruth and Lucy had difficulty finding the cemetery, and then the grave. But the difficulty didn’t stop them. All they had were car keys. Ah, the car keys.
5. It’s okay when our first inclination is to not inconvenience ourselves for the sake of another. That’s normal. Ruth was very transparent in saying she felt guilty about her initial reaction. What is beautiful is when we move past our first thoughts because we know we can honor and bless someone if we don’t give in to our basic human preference for convenience. Hats off to Ruth!
6. God at times uses symbols within events to let us know he loves us, cares for us, and that he is there for us. The picture of Lucy’s shadow over Ruth cleaning Bev’s grave marker. Ruth cleaning up what others have ignored. For Charley, it “closed the loop,” as he put it.Lucy’s shadow in the picture represented the future he wondered about over 30 years ago. Because he was able to move well through his grief after that tragic event happened, he was able to re-marry. He was able to have children, one of whom cast a shadow over both his current and former wife. Lucy’s shadow connected the three of them to bring closure to the tragedy that happened so long ago
We're all connected to each other
7. We really are all connected to each other, if for no other reason than we all come from the same source, God himself. Some day in eternity we will see all these connections, some of which we don’t quite understand in this life. For those of us with a relationship with Jesus, we will see Bev one day, and I bet she will thank Charley for sharing the story of their 21 months together. She will thank Ruth and Lucy for honoring her the day they cleaned off her grave marker. And all of us will give thanks to the Lord for the relationships he gave us, which if we look carefully enough, we’ll see, all point directly back to him.
8. There are things God is doing in our lives that at times we just cannot explain. Why did Charley survive the car accident and Bev didn’t. The feeling of “Holy Ground” that Ruth talked about over Bev’s grave. Lucy feeling a connection with Bev, her father’s first wife. Unrelated to her by blood, but somehow related by spirit in ways we cannot explain.
Shadows really do connect us.
Here’s the main takeaway I hope you remember from today’s episode
We develop deeper relationships with people when we listen well to each other, inconvenience ourselves for other people at times, and realize we’re all connected with each other by virtue of the fact that each of us has been created in the Image of God.
So what does all this mean for YOU?
How can you use what you’ve heard today to improve the relationships in YOUR life?
I’d encourage you to ask yourself, and God, what deeper relationships could you nurture based on the relationship principles we talked about today?
Namely, give people time to heal. Listen well to others. Sacrifice your time and energy. Use your limited resources to bless others. Fight through your natural inclination to be self-centered. Look for ways God is connecting you with someone else. Things like this.
In closing, I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, enough to put into practice what you’ve just heard about developing deeper relationships with people.
For when you do, it will help you experience the joy of relationships God intends for you. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s it for today. If there’s someone in your life you think might like to hear what you just heard, please forward this episode on to them. The link is JohnCertalic.com/172.
And of course, if you haven’t listened to episode 171 which is the actual interview with Charley and Ruth, please do that. JohnCertalic.com/171.
Finally, don’t forget to spread a little sunshine around the people you meet this week. Spark some joy for them. And I’ll see you next time.
Related episodes you may want to listen to
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