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Occasionally I read a book that I continue to refer back to over and over again to mine gems of  wisdom and insights that I may have overlooked previously. The Relational Soul is one book that continues to provide insight into how I relate to the world around me, how I relate to God and how others relate to me. The book shows how relational patterns that form early in our lives can impact relationships throughout our lives both positively and negatively and then offers context to relate to others in a truly meaningful way. It is a book that will lead the reader form a reactive false-self way of relating to the world to a receptive true-self way of relating.

This is a book I would recommend to everyone since we all have relationships throughout our lives. While there are many books written on niche’s of relationships there is not too many this impactful that can be applied to every relationship we have. Insights from this book I find myself applying to leadership, marriage, parenting, friends, coworkers and normal every day relationships with people around me.

“We are masters at creating an image. In our desperation each of us forms psychological defenses to protect ourselves from exaggerated shame, fear and guilt. We do this to feel safe and secure, because we are alone and no longer trust God completely. Some of our defenses are obvious, like walls as high and thick as any medieval fortress. Some are stealth, buried beneath the surface like land mines ready to blow if activated.”

I want to share with you some of my favorite highlights and (insights) from this book:

  1. At the core of our being is this truth-we are designed for and by our relationships. We are born with a relentless longing to participate in the lives of others. Fundamentally we are relational souls.
  2. We cannot exist well without connection and communion with another.
  3. We cannot reach our potential without healthy relationships.
  4. We cannot live fully alive apart from loving connection with others.
  5. Christ is the source of life, the cosmic nucleus around which all creation revolves. Apart from his continuous, actual relational presence, the world would cease to exist.
  6. A lack of trust leads to alienation. That’s what happened to Adam and Eve. At the root of their disobedience was mistrust in the goodness of God.
  7. Conscious participation in the love of the Father, Son and Spirit makes all the difference in our connection with others.
  8. Simply put, without the ability to trust oneself and others well, intimacy is blocked.
  9. Implicit memory has an enormous effect on us because it holds our way of relating. 
  10. We are created with mirror neurons that make it possible to know the emotions of another person.
  11. Every decision we make is an emotional one; which is to say, every decision is relational.
  12. It is interesting to not we cannot remember events without an emotion. 
  13. There is no possibility of soulful relationships without an integrated soul that has embraced its story (the good, the bad, the ugly).
  14. We are relational beings who are both hurt and healed by our relationships.
  15. The more we enjoy God’s presence, the more we will be able to enjoy the presence of others.
  16. Sin is a mistrustful state of being that moves us from communion to alienation by means of disobedience and pride.
  17. Many of the false-self patterns forming and influencing our relational choices are generational. Recognizing the particulars of our false-self way of being is very difficult. 
  18. All of us follow the script we learned as kids. Whatever was emotionally normal early is perpetuated in our relationships.
  19. Because of our relational design we cannot change without the presence of others. We are created for and by relationships.
  20. Like a child who borrows the emotional state of her mother, we borrow Jesus’ relational life with the Father.
  21. What Adam lost (de-created), the “second Adam” found (re-created). What Adam obstinately refused to do (trust), Jesus lovingly consented to do (“Let your will be done”) 
  22. Our truest identity is not a self we create but the self God creates and freely gives to us in Christ.
  23. The soul’s first task is to learn to trust, because our capacity to trust is our capacity to love and be loved, to give and to receive.
  24. The greatest gift any of us can give another is a transforming, receptive presence.
  25. We must get to both the conscious and unconscious realities of our story. We must do so because whatever we do not own will eventually own us. 
  26. We need to know our personality-the way we tend to perceive, process and present ourselves in our story. Self-clarity is the wisdom of knowing ourselves.
  27. True-self living invites us to understand and interpret our story in light of Jesus.
  28. Grace shows up when there is brokenness and sin. The Spirit is most active when there is great work to do.
  29. We must learn true-self living by living with others who are ahead of us in the journey of faith.
  30. His goal for us is that we become moral persons from the inside out, not simply that we do virtuous things.
  31. Humility ultimately says, “Thy will be done.”…Repentance without humility is artificial self-righteousness that will never expose the deep motivations of the soul.
  32. Life-giving relationships are not built on how smart we are but on how solid we are.
  33. Contemplative prayer allows the soul to learn of a love that is beyond words.
  34. We want change where change isn’t needed or expected by God. We miss or ignore that God is out to change our capacity to love and be loved.
  35. The first commandment is not “be right!” It is “love!”