This week, the ACU Counseling Center and the Family Studies department are co-sponsoring the annual Sacred Relationships Week.
Sacred Relationships Week is a time set aside to talk more directly about relationships on campus through a series of Chapel talks, forums and panel discussions. With the theme of “Yourself In Relationship”, this year’s Sacred Relationships Week is more focused on the individual, not just dating or marriage.
Tim Ehrhart, counselor at the Counseling Center, helped organize and facilitate the week’s events.
“Our theme is tailored to being true to who we are,” Ehrhart said. “My goal is to look at all the different facets of relationship and promote healthy, sacred relationships and this year, really focus on how to be ourselves in the midst of all of that.”
Steve Rowlands, director of the ACU Counseling Center, thinks that relationships start with the individual.
“We believe that every relationship evolves out of our own personal stuff,” Rowlands said. “So if I can take care of myself in a healthy way, I will have healthier relationships with others.”
Rowlands said in the past, the week has tended to focus on marriage and dating, but that isn’t necessarily the goal.
“We’re not pushing marriage,” Rowlands said. “But we know that most students probably are going to be married, and most probably want to be married.”
“We really want to equip them for that relationship, but we also want to equip them for relationships in general,” Rowlands said.
With topics ranging from looking at who you are individually, to pre-marital counseling, the week has much to offer for all students, no matter what their relationship status is. Rowlands said the planning team integrates a lot of different facets of relationships into the themes of the week.
“We’re always trying to think about skills,” Rowlands said, “Like how to deal with conflict, how to communicate, how to voice your needs, how to be okay with yourself. How can we help people have better relationships?”
This year’s planning committee has put a lot of time and thought into the week to make sure students get the most out of the events that are planned. Elizabeth Watters, sophomore family studies major from Houston said more advertising and flyers were sent out this year than in past years.
“We’ve tried to make this more available to students by having a table set up in the campus center with lots of giveaways,” Watters said. “We want students to know that this isn’t just for if you are dating. This is for everyone.”
Julia Prior, junior family studies major from Fort Worth, said she has enjoyed being part of planning the events and getting speakers lined up.
“We all bounced ideas off of each other with our professors to decide on speakers,” Prior said. “It’s been so great being a part of this and I am really excited for the week.”
Sacred Relationships Week has been on campus for more than 10 years now, and it continues to help students.
Ehrhart said this week’s origins stem from the writings of author Gary Thomas. Thomas, who has written numerous books on sacred marriage, parenting and other relationships, asked the question, “What if relationships were designed to make us holy, not happy?”
This question has been influential in the plans made for the week. The Counseling Center and family studies department hope that students will leave the week more equipped with relational skills, ready to grow as individuals.
“We are all created for community and we all walk in relationships,” Ehrhart said. “Relationships are about the process of refinement. They are not just about finding someone, but God using that experience to refine us.”