Pursue Jesus and Use Wisdom (Single & Following Jesus Series Part VIII)

For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly,~Psalm 84:11.

“Get [skillful and godly] wisdom! Acquire understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation]!

Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not turn away from her (Wisdom) and she will guard and protect you;

Love her, and she will watch over you,”~Proverbs 4:5-6.

Wisdom is so vital in all of life.

Believers are encouraged to follow Jesus and acquire wisdom. The pursuit of wisdom is not for demonic wisdom; the wisdom of this age is not always in alignment with God.

Godly wisdom is pure, full of truth, love, and has the best interests of everyone involved considered. Godly wisdom is holy; it is without sin.

Our culture promotes immorality and sensuality. It is ungodly. The movies and tv promote immorality without ever truly showing the depths of the consequences for immoral choices.

Our culture also promotes the lie that sex or marriage will complete a person.

As stated last post, casual sex is promoted. Not only is casual sex promoted so is love at first sight, magical/mystical/over romanced/over sexualized relationships. Many of these relationships disregard wisdom, true God love, or God’s truths. They sound good, may look good, yet they do not hold onto goodness as you fast forward to when reality sets into the picture.

Ex: Henry and Julie who fell in love find out a year later after the honeymoon period is over that they have nothing in common that’s not physical, they the thrill is gone, they fight over money, they hate each other’s families, and they are miserable. This scenario rarely makes it to the big screen. Henry and Julie maybe pursued lust/feelings over wisdom and love. Then we see them break up (if unmarried) or divorce.

Follow Jesus:

Jesus is love, therefore pursuing God is pursuing love. God helps us to love ourselves and others. When God is first, the voids in our lives are filled by God. We then make decisions out of unselfish, sacrificial love not lust (which is about pleasing self), selfishness, desperation, or loneliness. God fills all the empty places so we enter relationships prepared to give, not with our hands out to receive or be made whole by an imperfect human. Only God can completely fill the voids of the soul and spirit. God solidifies identity, not a mate.

When God is first, He can bring in an equal complement/companion. Otherwise there may be a temptation to pursue a match that is less that God’s best. There are no perfect people, there are God matches that are better together than apart.

Wisdom says, “Will the relationship add value for both people? Is God at the center? Can we grow together? Is there mutual effort? Are we headed the same direction? How does this person handle life, conflict, money? Would God or my close friends/family choose this person for me? Is this person even interested in a lifelong partnership with me? Can we be allies? Are we friends?

If things do not work out, are we leaving the person in better shape than they were before they met us? Or are they in need of deep inner healing after connecting to us? Seriously think about what you bring to the table. Is it good? Does it add value?

The people who engage in sex outside of marriage are robbing a future spouse of intimacy with that person and their own future spouse. The one who engages in pornography is robbing themselves of deep intimacy and understanding of what God intended with sex. His design was always about love; unselfish, committed, holy, powerful, intimate, sacrificial love. The devil invites people to cheapen the most intimate act between a man and woman.

Love is willing to slow down and pray. Love is willing to evaluate the situation and relationship with God. Love wants to keep God in first place. Love pursues purity. Love is willing to set boundaries that offer protection of both people. Love is who God is.

Pursue Wisdom:

Let’s venture into another part of process, pursuing wisdom. I have met many people hurt because they forsook wisdom.

Ex: Susie likes John so she starts having dreams that he is the one. Obviously God speaks in dreams, so she should grab ahold to that dream and start planning their wedding in her head (not wisdom). Hit the mega pause button. I have seen women do this and ignore the actions of John. John is a jerk and mistreats everyone, yet there is this dream/prophetic word-so Susie holds on for dear life only to find out later John never wanted to marry her, or worse they get married and he’s an abuser.

Red Alert: Every dream, vision, prophetic word needs tested. Every single one. Do not just run with a “word” or “impression” or “dream” without testing it to see if it’s truly God. I do not care who the prophet was who gave that word, it needs tested and confirmed. The devil speaks and can invade dreams, impressions, visions.

If you think you heard from God about someone, pray and put that word on the shelf. I recommend praying, “God show me who this person really is,” and watching them. How do they treat you? Do you always initiate contact? Do they invest in you at all? How does being with this person impact your life? Are you constantly confused about where you stand with that person? Are they controlling, mean, unloving? Do they treat you with love, respect, honor?

Too many times people fall for who they want someone to be instead of who they really are. Would you let your best friend marry someone like the person you are interested in? If not, why are you in that relationship?

I have seen women chase men like they are Jesus then end up disappointed they are rejected. Relationships are not mean to be like the animal kingdom; chase, pursue, conquer. They are supposed to be about love. Love involves mutual pursuit.

Evaluate your relationship:

Is your relationship life giving? Or are you in tears or upset most of the time? God wants His very best for you, for everyone. God ordained matchups still have challenges, they should not be loaded with confusion, uncertainty, abuse, pain, and suffering.

I have also seen both men and women cling to the idea that someone loves them or is interested in them who will not commit to them nor express their intentions.

Ex: Karla has been into Jerry for years. Jerry flirts and is nice yet has never asked her on a date, never expressed interest, and does nothing to initiate contact or getting to know each other. Karla is convinced his flirting when he sees her is more than it is.

I work in a predominately male environment and they have told me, “We flirt because it’s fun. It makes us feel good.” Therefore there is no intention of a relationship. For the unsaved person there may be an intention of a hook up, but not marriage or a serious relationship.

Get Wisdom! Ask for discernment.

“Discernment is more than the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. It is the ability to differentiate between right and almost right.”

Wisdom looks at the future as well as the present. Wisdom prays and seeks godly counsel. Wisdom is a life preserver. Wisdom says, “Where is God in this situation? Are we are good match? Spiritually are we on the same page? Can we grow together? Is this someone God would choose for me? Are my God expectations on this person when they should be on God? How does this person treat people, including me? Does this person demonstrate any of the fruit of the Spirit?”

Papa God I pray every unmarried person pursues Jesus and wisdom. I bind any spirits of impatience, deception, selfishness, lust, false dreams/false prophecies, and declare soul health. Come Lord Jesus and fill every soul with your love, peace, joy, and purity. Fill every person to overflowing. Impart godly wisdom and truth. Help each person make wise decisions about relationships. Prepare each person for what you have for them. Heal all past relational wounding, in Jesus powerful name. Amen.

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Put Prayer On It (Single & Following Jesus Part VI)

Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?~Amos 3:3.

This was my devotion yesterday on Facebook, yet thought it may bless singles here. Here is the link to my author site if you wish to connect there Erin Lamb Author Page. I post devotions, encouraging words almost daily.

Before you date, court, pursue a business deal, say yes, sign up for that ministry thing, ask God before connecting/partnering with other people. God sees the heart and true motivation.

One of my favorite prayers is, "God show me who this person really is."

It's easy for people to smile, do the Christian nice thing (some are not even nice), or go along when there is something they want. Yet God sees the heart. God sees the core of us, even the things we do not see.

I give people about a year before I truly let my guard down and during that time I pray, "God do I need to be connected to this person? Please reveal their heart." Sometimes what flows out of them during that year is unloving, unkind, grossly selfish, etc…I thank God for the reveal. I am simply watching and assessing how they treat me and other people. Someone who is kind to those they deem important and rude to those they do not feel are important is not a kind person.

I love all, trust few, and am close friends with few. Why? My inner circle is reserved for people who genuinely care about me and treat me and others with respect, honor, dignity.

Our actions are always screaming over our words. Our words reveal our heart. Sometimes people are nice to everyone else and hateful to me. Why? I ask God to reveal their heart. God goes, "Here, this is what you are dealing with, you decide how to proceed."

I love all people, I am not friends or partners with all people. Some, I love and the information in my life is guarded from them. Why? They are not trustworthy. The Bible says, "You will know a tree by it's fruit." It is wisdom to seek God over friendships, dating, partnership, business, and even ministry. How can two be joined together lest they agree?

A Tree and It's Fruit

"Beware of the false prophets, [teachers] who come to you dressed as sheep [appearing gentle and innocent], but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them [that is, by their contrived doctrine and self-focus]. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the unhealthy tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruit you will recognize them [as false prophets],~Jesus (Matthew 7:15-20).

My core values are:

  1. Love, respect, honor of all people not just those deemed important.
  2. Build people up instead of tear them down.
  3. Represent (re present) Jesus to those around me; reveal the Fathers heart.
  4. Honesty and integrity.
  5. Seeking to do no harm to anyone.
  6. Caring about others.
  7. Releasing who lives inside (Holy Spirit)

Connection with likeminded people brings forth greater fruit. It helps us to grow stronger. Those who build us up in love are so beneficial. Those who repeadily tear us down are not. Sometimes our mental, emotional, and physical health is compromised due to our associations and friendships.

Papa God, guard our hearts and lives from sheep in wolves clothing. Protect us from linking arms with those who do not love well or seek our harm. Help us to walk in wisdom, love, peace, and joy. You know who is best to be a part of our lives and who is not. Protect us from the wrong associations, the wrong friendships, the wrong partnerships. Help us to be connected to those who will love us like Jesus. Bring in the right friends, associates, partners. Give us eyes that examine fruit, not judge, yet see fruit. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin Lamb

Do They Love You? (Sacred Sex Series Part VII) 

Morning Devotion (for the unmarried): Do they love you? What matters most in covenant is agape (God) love. 

Our culture praises fun, romance, sex, lust, and quick hookups. There is hyper focus on fantasy and eros love (sexual attraction/romantic love). 

There is little to no focus on agape love (unconditional, sacrificial, unselfish love). 

Agape love is the love Jesus demonstrates. He tells His followers the world would know them by this love. 

Some may say, “Agape belongs just between you and God or in church and not in marriage or friendship.” I strongly, strongly disagree. Why? Trials may hit your friendship or marriage. Eros (romantic love) or philia (brotherly love) or storage (family love) may jump ship or not hold up in testing and extreme trials. Why? Because when love hurts, when that person disappoints you, when they no longer can meet your needs, when the sparkle has fizzled, the flesh says, “Let’s ditch this zero and look for another fix.” 

I personally do not enjoy mistreatment, so there are some unrepentant people not a part of my circle. I still pray for them, would feed them if they were hungry, clothe them if naked, keep their confidences, and seek to do no harm. 

Only agape says, “Even in the worst of times, I still love you. I am praying for you. Even if it costs me greatly I am looking out for you. My love for you is unwavering, unyielding, stead fast, and will not be moved. In sickness, and in health. In good times, and in bad times. When you make my heart flutter and when you don’t. I will remain faithful in love for you.” This does not mean love fails to set boundaries (see paragraph above). Yet boundaries are for protection, not punishment or an excuse to withhold love. 

Agape love is covenant love. It will cost you. It is not based on feelings, it is a choice you make to show up and do right by someone even if they do not deserve it. It is the love that says, “Even if you have nothing to offer me or you loose it all. I am not going to abandon my covenant with you.” 

Agape love is what God demonstrated to Adam and Adam and Eve were supposed to demonstrate to each other. Agape is what Jesus tells us to demonstrate to the world, even our enemies, not just who we like.

So in navigating through the choices for a mate or a covenant friend, think, do they love you? Do they demonstrate the unselfish, sacrificial, unconditional love of God for you and others? Are they a servant or looking to be served? Are they in any way looking out for you, your best interests? Or are they looking for someone to bless them, care for them, be there for them? A deeply selfish person will hurt you. 

Lust vs. Love

Lust is selfish and can be mistaken for love. It is an intense feeling that wants to take from someone else for it’s own pleasure or personal gain. Lust will pursue to conquer. Lust will also abandon. Lust is never satisfied. 

Marriage goes not cure lust anymore than going to a bar cures alcoholism. Lust is a spirit and heart condition; Jesus can deliver anyone from lust. The natural condition for mankind is love, not lust. Lust came when sin came. Before lust there was blessing given by God for physical intimacy out of agape love. 

Love is looking for ways to give, add value, bless, empower, protect, and enhance. Love seeks to do things God’s way. Love is holy, pure, and eternal. 

Okay, you may be saying, “Love sounds hard. I just want to have fun!

Fun is great! I love to have fun. Yet just having fun does not make us covenant friends or marriage material. God and I have tons of fun; laughing parties, dancing, sharing dreams, life together. Yet we both know our love for the other is not dependent on having fun. There are times where He just had to hold me while I mourned. Times where I had to wait patiently on Him to finish what He started. Not always fun, yet we are in covenant. I love God even when walking with Him is challenging. He promises to never leave or forsake me. I know every day with me is not fun. Yet He stands in unwavering love. 

What about that spark, physical attraction? 

God is pro chemistry. Hormones were His idea. He was the Author of attraction, sex, and romance. Yep. God, not Hollywood. God’s version of romance leads to greater intimacy (knowing) in a safe environment. God seeks to protect hearts and bodies, not destroy them or use them. 

God created physical intimacy with boundaries. Those who live their lives based solely on what pleases the flesh will often find they are led by lust not love. What if your spouse can no longer meet your physical needs? Are you leaving? Cheating? Withholding love? Angry? What if that person loses their health, looks, or possessions? Lust says, “Go where your needs are going to be met.” Lust is selfish. Love is unselfish and faithful. 

In a world that says, “Do what feels good to you.” God offers something so much better, agape love. 

Does that potential mate or close, covenant friend love you? Really love you? Do they love anyone besides themselves, their family, and friends? What is their character and heart? 

If presented with the chance to be close friends or a spouse I am examining how the person loves. I have met many people in my lifetime who claimed to love me, I am their best friend or like family, and several men who said I was their choice for a wife, yet in the end they did not truly love me. Some loved the idea of me. Some loved the way I loved them or loved their families. Some loved or lusted after what was on the outside. Some evaluated how I could add value to their lives or business or church. Some just wanted to check their box, “Found me a wife or good friend.” Some were deeply selfish. And at the end of the day, I do not care how much money you have, or about titles or superficial things, how well do you love? 

Sweet friends, God loves you and wants you loved in return. One sided love is not a relationship, it’s charity. Charity (ministry) is great. Love without strings attached. Yet in covenant you will need someone willing to pour back the love you pour out. God set up relationships for mutual love and blessing. 

God bless you in your unmarried years and those who never wish to marry. Follow hard and fast after Jesus. God loves you and has incredible plans for your life, whether married or unmarried. He is your eternal covenant, stronger and better than any earthly covenant. He is the best Lover of your soul. You are so valuable to Him and SOooooooo deeply loved.

Setting Boundaries in Love (Relationship Series) 

  
Build a fence around your heart, not a wall. Therefore, people can see its beauty but only those invited can come inside.” 

I cannot recall who said the quote above, yet it’s a good one. Boundaries are the fences we put up to protect what’s of value. Boundaries set limits. 

God sets boundaries; much of the law was set up as boundaries to protect people. Do not steal. Do not murder…We are of infinite worth to God. Therefore, boundaries help protect us and others. 

Boundaries are supposed to be rooted in love, not fear. 

If we set boundaries with people out of fear, they are most likely to get hurt. Fear is a horrible motivator because the main objective is “Self.” When love is the motivation, the best interests of both parties are considered. 

It is possible to be kind, loving, and maintain boundaries. 

Different strokes for different folks…

Different people have different boundaries. I’m from a warm culture. It is not uncommon to smile, encourage, open the door to strangers, give gifts, or even embrace. It’s normal and considered friendly. 

I love traveling to parts of South America because the culture is similar in certain places. People will hug you, invite you for coffee. It’s not a date, flirting, or luring technique. It’s normal life. You may even receive a gift. My dad loves to give gifts. My Heavenly Father loves to give gifts. 

For some people they are not friendly if they don’t know you. They must get to know you before there’s an invitation to do anything. Some cultures are warm and friendly, some are quite reserved. 

So how do we establish boundaries? 

The first step is establishing what our boundaries are. 

  • What do you like and dislike?
  • What is comfortable? 
  • What makes you uncomfortable? 
  • What makes you feel violated, used, or abused?  
  • How do you want to be treated?

When our boundaries are not set or low, it leads to an uneasy feeling or mistreatment. When boundaries are violated, something feels wrong or off. 

Life Lessons:

I work in a mostly male environment. Sometimes the things they say are not appropriate. I tell them, “Please don’t discuss that around me.

If I don’t say anything, I can’t be upset by what they talk about. It’s my responsibility to either leave the room or tell them, “This isn’t okay.

We set our boundaries, not others. 

I also went through a period in my life where people wanted to tell me what to do. This was annoying and not what I wanted. I kindly told them, “I appreciate your concerns, yet I plan on taking this to God. I do not wish for any more counsel or feedback.” 

I’ve also learned I can unknowingly aggravate people’s boundaries. Mainly I don’t know what their boundaries are. I refrain now from being too kind or generous with people I don’t know, unless it’s secretly.  

Boundaries with the opposite sex/in ministry:

I don’t encourage or continually affirm men I don’t know unless it’s done publicly-with a witness (strong lesson learned). Even if your motive is simply to bless someone, it can be completely misunderstood. 

If I have something for a man who is married, it almost always goes through his wife unless it’s with colleagues about business. I’d rather just avoid any misunderstandings.

I don’t share deep intimate details of my life with men, or women I don’t know or trust. In ministry I share experiences, but not on a one on one intimate level with people I don’t know or trust. As I grow older the less I want people in my business. I have a small circle I trust. 

Basic boundary guidelines: 

1. Saying no to what’s breaking the law or violating your morals. 

2. Saying no without feeling guilty or obligated to say yes to please people. 

3. Refraining from touching people without asking for permission. 

If you’re from a warm culture, the other person may not be. The person with the highest boundary wins. 

Example: I hate people touching my hair. Random fact-Did you know when you touch hair with dirty hands you leave deposits?

4. Refraining from allowing people to touch you if you don’t want to be touched.

5. Refraining from emotional/physical/spiritual  closeness (intimacy) without commitment. This is quite important for members of the opposite sex. I’m not talking about family affection, a platonic hug. 

I highly recommend the book Choosing God’s Best. This book outlines some of the precautions to take with intimacy in relationships. 

Many affairs begin on an emotional and intellectual level before a physical act occurs. 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,~Proverbs 4:23. 

God intended for connections to be guarded. If we open up to people who are not committed to love us (I’m talking agape, friend love, family love-and sexual love), it can lead to heartache. 

Our hearts can become entangled with people by sharing our hearts, dreams, passions, fears, intimate things about ourselves. This creates a connection with another person. If you add to that physical intimacy (which God only condones with a man and woman in marriage), it can lead to heartache outside comittment. 

I know in ministry or spiritual family connections there’s sharing. I am not stating to be a brick wall with others, just thoughts on basic boundaries. 

6. Protecting the space, time, and relationships of other people. 

7. Refraining from asking intimate personal details about people you don’t know. 

There’s a time and place for these things. I will flat out tell people, “You don’t need to know.

8. Tell people what your boundaries are. If you don’t tell them, they don’t know. The first time a boundary is violated, say something. 

For more information on boundaries go to Guide to Psychology-Boundaries

If you struggle with saying no, I recommend The Best Yes by New York Time’s Bestseller Lysa TerKurst. 

Here are some sample scripts I’ve used. 

Unsolicited advice:

Thank you so much for taking the time to provide feedback. I plan on praying and seeking God’s will. I’d love for you to pray God’s will for me. 

Pushy people:

No. I won’t be needing or using (fill in the blank). 

Requests I cannot perform, or don’t feel called to do:

I am unable to (fill in the request), have you touched base with (alternative option)? 

Rude people: 

I ignore quite a bit of rudeness because it is simply a person who feels powerless trying to appear strong or powerful. If I must address it, then it goes a bit like this. 

I would love to connect or chat with you, yet not while you’re using that tone or treating me this way. 

We can love people and set boundaries. I may post more on boundaries next post. 

A Note to Christian Men

  

I’ve listened to women gripe about men for years. I listen to the men at work gripe about women. Whether we realize it or not the devil targeted relationships from the beginning. He hates love, he hates unity, he hates marriage. God is love. 

While men shake their fists demanding respect and submission, I’ve watched countless women be mistreated/abused by men in the church and celebrated by men in the world. The rates of domestic violence, spiritual abuse, neglect, etc in Christian marriages is well beyond disturbing. 

I wrote this note to hopefully give men a glimpse of what it’s like to be a woman who loves Jesus interacting with them…I lead women and listen to them. I’m also a woman following Jesus. 

It’s long, but wanted to share. My note to Christian men…I’m praying for men quite a bit. Women too..Here goes. 🙏🏼

Jesus loved women, empowered them, treated them well, and maintained purity. It’s possible. 

It’s necessary for men to love women with the love of Jesus (agape). If Christian men don’t, there are multitudes of men who don’t love God offering support, encouragement, affirmation, friendship, asking for dates and marriage, and pursuing Christian women. 

Please don’t treat us poorly or ignore us because you believe if you’re nice to us we are going to fall for you. Every woman isn’t desperate or after you. Some of us are simply trying to obey the command of Jesus to love you the way He does, as a brother in Christ. 

Please treat us the way you’d treat God’s most prized possession. We represent half of the nature of God. We were created in His image (Genesis 1:27). 

Please treat us the way you’d want someone to treat your mother or sister or daughter. You know “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Please know that men who don’t love Jesus are pursuing us, telling us we are beautiful/valuable while you’re ignoring us in fear we will get the wrong idea about your intentions. 

You can be our friends and allies, pray for and encourage us without it being a romantic gesture. We need your support & love. All love is not Eros (sexual/romantic). God calls us to agape. 

Please know your attempts to not look lustfully after a woman often come off to us that you’re unattracted to us, disinterested, or even disgusted by us. 

Please know we were not simply created to be your sidekick or play things or the mother of your children. Do some in depth studies of how Jesus treated women and the powerful women in the Bible: there were judges (Deborah), queens who led countries (Queen of Sheba, Esther), prophetesses, leaders, women who discipled/taught men. We have a purpose other than wife/mother. 

Please know your flakiness in dating/courting causes massive confusion on our end. It’s possible to get to know someone without putting marriage on the table in the first few meetings. We truly aren’t all desperate to snatch or capture you. 

Please know we need you in community, on the frontlines with us, linked arms with us, serving with us, you represent half of God’s nature. You are needed.

Know we pray for you as your sisters in Christ, want to see you succeed. Please pray for us too!

Love in Christ, 

Erin 

Healthy Relationships (Part 2)

Life is a highway…okay so you can’t hear me singing right now which is a good thing. We talked last time about the fundamentals of a healthy relationship; love, honor, respect, trust…

Friendship Does Not Equal Marriage.

So, I wanted to talk about something I see more with women than men. Women tend to treat friendship like it is a marriage… til death do us part. I have seen and been a part of many a cat fight over who is who’s best friend. Men tend to go with the flow. Women can become possessive, jealous, controlling, and down right vicious in relationships. All of these things are rooted in insecurity. There is this fear of loss of attention, or significance, or control…And it’s not healthy.

Recently, I had to tell a group of people I can not promise them life long friendship. Why? because I could move across the world (which is an option), or meet new people that require my time, or simply can’t fulfill that promise. I’ve found it’s better not to make a promise than not keep one. Also, you run into the problem of how to deal with that promise if the relationship get’s toxic. How do you get out when you’ve promised life-long friendship to someone who treats you poorly yet wants to remain friends? I can write about these things because I have suffered the consequences of befriending people only to find out they gossiped, lied, and treated me pretty bad. Trying to gracefully exit the relationship led to more drama as strangers were dragged into it, mutual friends, and it was a mess. How did I get there? Well, I will befriend anyone and once I do I will give 100% until it’s obvious the person is taking advantage. Even still, I will try (not always successful) to be kind even when kindness isn’t returned. I’ve learned though this “promise of friendship,” is a trap. None of us can even guarantee we will awaken in the morning let alone be friends with someone forever. Life changes. People change. Circumstances change. We cannot promise anything. Only God can because He cannot violate His Word.

And women, we must stop with the possesiveness, back-biting, you stole my friend, jealousy, etc…non-sense. It’s ridiculous. If we are good to people, they will stick around. If we are not, then we cannot expect them to stay. It’s that simple. People are not Jesus, and cannot promise someone they will take whatever the other person dishes out for eternity. Not only is that not loving, it’s not God’s will. If you dated someone and they cheated on you, lied, and treated you poorly, you’d break up with them. If the relationship wasn’t healthy, you’d part ways. Women will cling to relationships that are killing them emotionally, and spiritually because of this “promise of friendship.”

Make Room For More:

If I had every friend I ever made, I would have no time alone, no ability to meet new people, and it wouldn’t make sense. Now I do have friends from high school and college that I’ve known a long time, but we can’t spend every waking moment together. It isn’t feasible or possible. They made new friends and so did I. I am not saying every time someone new comes along you ditch another friend. I am saying that your life will be overfull if you try to maintain 20+ friendships. Time is precious. Spend it on the people who you want to invest in, and don’t feel guilty about it.

Mutual friendship. If you’re the only one giving in your relationship, it’s not a relationship. Here me out. There are seasons where one person cannot give anything. However, if all the time it’s you giving and someone else taking, you are not in a relationship. You are someone’s care giver. You are in a parental role. You are not in a healthy relationship. The world is full of givers and takers. Most people like to receive. The problem comes when you are in a relationship with someone who only cares about themself; their needs, their wants, their agenda. Those relationships are not good for you mentally, spiritually, or emotionally.

Here are some questions I have begun to ask about people to determine if I should be in a relationship with them:

Does the person take responsiblity for their actions or is it always someone else’s fault or a misunderstanding?

Does the person fight fair or resort to name calling, blame shifting, and shouting?

Does the person have integrity?

Can the person keep a secret or confidence? Do they tell other people’s business?

Does the person have the capability to have compassion and empathy?

Is the person honest, even if it has the potential to make them look bad?

Will the person stand up for what’s right? If someone else is trying to hurt you, will they take a stand.

Will the person protect my reputation, my confidence, and my heart?

Is the person selfish and self-centered? Can they put another’s needs above their own?

Is the person controlling, manipulative, or possessive?

Does the person inspire me to be a better person? Are they an encourager or discourager?

Does the person have other close friends? A lack of close friends is a warning sign.

How does the person treat people who have nothing to other them?

Are they gracious, kind, and loving?

Could this person be trusted to know my greatest challenges without judging or criticizing?

The list gets longer as I get older. You also realize it’s not the quantity of friends you have, but the quality of friends you have that matters. My mum used to always tell me, “If you have one good friend you can trust that’s better than 10 you can’t trust.” She was right. If you have one person you could trust with your life, you’re richer than most. And don’t feel bad if you don’t mesh well with everyone. We can’t be friends with every person on the planet. Even FB puts a limit on how many friends you can have. 😉

Healthy Relationships

Are your relationships healthy?

It’s easy while in a dysfunctional relationship to think that it is healthy. There is nothing to compare it to. It seems normal, so it must be normal. Lynne Foote, MA, LPC stated that a healthy relationship is built on respect, friendship, and trust. In her article Creating the Foundation for Healthy Relationships, she lays out some important information. I’d like to build upon what she wrote.

Respect: Honoring another person even if they disagree with you. We live in a society where we are quick to verbally annihilate anyone who does not think the same way we do. We are trained to defend our positions, and our pride says, “I am right.” In order to respect other people there comes a time where we have to agree to disagree, and honor another person even if they are not agreeing with us. Respect is rooted in honor.

Friendship: Friends are people who have something in common, but not all friendships are created equal. A friend is someone who looks out for your best interest. A person who loves you, in spite of you. A person who gives you the freedom to be who you are, but is willing to tell you when you’re headed for disaster. A friend is someone you can rely on in good times and bad times. Friendship is like a garden, it grows because someone is tending to it.

Trust: Trust is the glue that holds it all together. When you trust someone, you feel safe with them. You know that your heart is safe with them. Trust is something that grows over time. If it is broken, it takes awhile to rebuild and sometimes it is never fully repaired.

Here are some other things that I have found over the years that have been a good indication of health in a relationship.

1. Free of control and manipulation. The desire to control people isn’t godly. God gives people free will. He does not try to control or manipulate. If you’re with someone and they try to control or manipulate you, it’s not a good sign.

2. Free of verbal abuse or abuse of any kind. Any person who puts you down, uses excessive sarcasm, hits you, or any form of abuse is unhealthy. Get out and seek help if necessary.

3. Free of blame shifting. In a healthy relationship each person takes responsibility for their actions. They don’t blame others or make excuses. They take full responsibility and ownership for their parts of the problem.

4. Free of co-dependence. Each person is responsible for themselves. In co-dependency there is normally one enabler/care-giver and one person who is continually being rescued or excuses made for them. Instead of two independent people, there’s co-dependency.

5. Free of gossip. A person you can not trust to keep your private matters private is not a friend. If a person gossips to you, they will gossip about you.

6. Keeps their word. The person who says they will be there for you and never is, is probably not the best choice of a friend. If their yes is yes until something better comes along, then investigate the relationship.

7. Free of gross selfishness. All relationships have some level of self focus. However, if you are with someone and they are only concerned about themselves, then it’s not healthy. Relationships are supposed to be give and take. A one-sided relationship is one normally shared between a parent and small child and not an adult to adult, unless the other person simply cannot give anything due to mental illness or physical illness.

8. Full of forgiveness and grace. It’s inevitable when you’re in a relationship with another person that they will do something to hurt you and sometimes unknowingly. We are always called to forgive. Restoration may take time depending on the damage done.

9. Does what the other person likes. This one is my favorite. It’s great to have people to spend time with, but there is something about the person who will do what they know you like. That person is a keeper. It’s easy to do the bare minimum in relationships and coast through them, so, the person willing to go the extra mile is appreciated.

10. Is filled with love. Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy or boast. Love is not proud, selfish, or self-seeking. Love rejoices with the truth. Love protects. Love never fails… 1 Cor. 13. Love as the world defines it or most people define it, is not how God defines it. A healthy relationship is rooted in love.

I wrote this post because over the years my friend Joi has mocked me because she’s said, “All your ‘friends’ are not your friends. You are a good friend to people, but how many of those people would you consider a really good friend? If I don’t trust a person enough to have my bank account information, they are not in my friend circle.” While she exaggerates, as I have a few good friends, I still have far more people who call me their best friend than I would return the statement. She also minimal to no relationship drama as the people she interacts with love her purely and vice versa. I’ve learned the hard way that not all relationships are healthy or good, and I must do my part to be healthy and cultivate healthy ones. I hope your relationships are built on love, respect, friendship, and trust. Mostly, I hope God is at the center of them, for without Him it’s far more challenging. Love, Erin.