Yesterday’s ‘Sort your ship out’ post was so popular I thought to present some more on …ship dynamics.

Imagine relationships were actual Ships. In order for an adult-to-adult RelationSHIP to sail, two or more people must agree to purchase and work on the ship together. This is called healthy mutuality. Ideally, the benefits and risk of sailing the RelationSHIP are understood and agreed to by all parties.

In order for the RelationSHIP to sail, it requires all hands on deck. It requires equity among roles and energy if it’s going to reach its destination and stay afloat through calm waters and rough seas.

Imagine one morning you meet your RelationSHIP sailing partner on the dock and they are standing at the ship’s entrance with a cash register and a gun.
“Pay your fare!” they demand.
“What?” you reply, “This is our ship! We agreed to purchase and sail it together – what’s with the register and weaponry?”

Since this is aRelationSHIP, the currency is rarely money. It’s going to be something that matters in a relational setting, another buy-in. Something you must perform or a need you must meet before you’re allowed on board. Something you must make a sacrifice for.  The conversation continues:

“My approval! You need to pay for my approval!” they demand.
“But I can’t! How? I thought that was a given!” you reply.
“Well it’s not and if you can’t pay, I’m going to captain the ship and you can just work towards maybe getting your place back.” they say as they storm ahead of you aboard the ship.
You agree, follow them aboard, the RelationSHIP sets sail and is never the same until you work towards the conditions you agreed to. That is, in fact, if you know what it’s going take to fix things and appease the other.

Sound familiar? The demand may not be approval, it could be affection or social status or wealth or intelligence or sex or some other fare.

Ancient scripture has a word for this dynamic; idolatry. What we see here is a subtle form of idolatry which is hidden in plain sight.  The demanding person forms the idol and then others bow down to it; agreeing to comply with it’s terms and conditions… Or at least agreeing to do what it takes in order to appease it.

Here’s the good-but-bad news! We all do it. Sometimes we bow down and comply thinking that the trip will be short and pain-free. We think that before long we will be back in good standing with the other. Sometimes, we know and come to expect all of our RelationSHIPs operate this way; at your expense and out of your control.   Until…crash! And guess who was going to get the blame for the RelationSHIP sinking?

Healthy RelationSHIPs sail stronger and without sinking when all parties work together in loving service to one another. Slaves don’t belong on RelationSHIPs. RelationSHIPS sail better when we don’t demand others bow to the idols we create out of dysfunction, pain and wounding.

Here’s a final thought. If your RelationSHIPs keep sinking, the common problem is most likely an unfair fare you have been demanding OR bowing down too.

Perhaps it’s time to destroy our idols and no longer bow to others?