The One Question that Could Change Every Relationship

The One Question that Could Change Every Relationship


When Grandmom went home to heaven we all rejoiced that she was no longer suffering… but we grieved deeply for ourselves.

Because — she was awesome. Absolutely amazing.



Over a dozen of her grandchildren stood in front of her casket giving witness that her wisdom had shone like the stars and lead many to righteousness. We shared specific reasons why.

It was how she went to the effort to mail boxes of her delicious peanut brittle and homemade fudge across the country to the grandchild at college who couldn’t make it home for Christmas. 

It was how she made custom-request birthday cakes every year for the wide range of imaginative grandkids — I don’t think she ever said “no” or that she couldn’t — and this was long before Pinterest and cake making tutorials.







It was how she loved her husband, her son and daughter, and how she faithfully lived Christ to them every day of her life.

It was how she crawled under the table into the special blanket fort with the giggling granddaughters. It was how she play-growled, tickled feet, sewed dolls, made pancakes and Ovaltine and popcorn and movie night-sleep overs like no one else.

It was how she loved us all well in ways that meant a lot to us. She was an encourager. She listened. She served. She smiled. 

And that same Spirit is manifest in her son, my Dad.

I don’t remember when I asked it exactly, but it was sometime when all my relationships were ridiculously shattered in sharp pieces and I was trying to figure out how in this broken, ugly, and depressing world how to change them into something better. Something I didn’t want to avoid. Something miraculously beautiful, even.

I asked him how on earth all his relationships were so strong. I asked him how he was able to love so many difficult, struggling, and unhealthy people (myself included) in a healthy, beneficial, loving, strengthening way.

He said at some point he had a change in perspective. He said at some point, he began asking himself one relationship-changing question.

The question is this: “What part of this person’s life am I?”

He said that he didn’t realize how he had been treating others as parts of his life — instead of living in the reality that to everyone else, he was only a part of theirs.

When we are at the center of our relationships — they’re going to be a mess, at best.

Because there are few things more destructive than being focused on ourselves. For us, for others, for fulfilling our role in the kingdom of God and experiencing all the joy stored up for us when we live like our humble, selfless Creator and Friend.

So I started asking myself in the moment:

What part of my parent’s life am I right now? What role do I fill in this friend’s life? What part of my daughter’s day am I being right now? That rude driver? The girl working the register? My next door neighbor? That church member?

An encourager? A complainer? A help? A listener? A burden? A joy-sucker? A comfort? A judge? An enabler? A fire-fueler? A peace-maker? A grace-giver?

Because it was obvious at Grandmom’s funeral: All that will be, all that can be, remembered about us is the part we have in other people’s lives.

So what about you, friend? What part of other’s lives are you? Does this challenge the way you view/interact with those around you?

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”~Matthew 7:12


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  • Cynthia Swenson

    I find this especially inspiring & insightful Just want to encourage you to keep sharing! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia P.S. I think simple testimonies have much power, as in your Grandmother & father’s lives!

    • Thank you, Cynthia!

      And I completely agree… I think the way people live is by far the most powerful witness about who God is and our relationship to Him! That continually humbles and challenges me.

  • Thanks for writing this. I remember a lot of the same things about Granny H, and remember when the car cake got cut up, we said it had gotten in a wreck.

    I really appreciate what you shared about relationships though, I’m reading it at a time I really need that message.

    • Daniel, I didn’t remember that about the cake! But that sounds like something we would all say lol.

      I have been needing to remember this perspective a lot lately, and often I write what I feel God has been trying to hammer into my own stubborn head, so I’m really glad God has used it for the benefit of others, also!

      Love you.

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