Breaking Cycles of Dysfunction in Relationships (Single and Following Jesus Series Part IX)

Have you been in a cycle of repeated bad relationships or you see your friends in those same dysfunctional relationships? Today is a day of breaking free.

I have asked the same questions about friendships or casual relationships, “Why is this type of person attracted to me? They have no qualities that match up.” That may seem harsh yet let me give some examples for clarity.

My nature is encouraging, supportive, and I pursue kindness. I want to see you win. I will be the most vocal cheerleader for you.

I wondered why those who were negative, critical, mean spirited, unsupportive, and hateful were drawn to me and why they turned their negativity on me.

I am going to tell you why. Are you ready?

1. Opposites Sometimes Do Attract.

You may be giving and attract a taker. You may be kind and attract someone rude. It is not always true that we attract who we are. You may be loving and attract someone critical, rude, mean.

2. Poor Boundaries.

People treat us the way we let them treat us. Some see meekness (strength under control) as weakness. If we do not set a boundary, “You may not treat me that way, you may not talk to me that way, no this is not okay,” then we invite disrespect. It’s a conversation that must start early, not months into the relationship.

I had a lady tell me once (long ago), “I know no matter how bad I treat you, you will always be there for me.” I thought to myself, “What kind of crazy have I signed up for.”

Loving someone does not mean you let them treat you poorly. That is called enabling. It is a form of codependency. Some think God is this way. He is not. His love does not change. He is not cheering when we misbehave. God sets boundaries-“If you do this, this is the result.” God allows natural consequences. He does not remove every consequence this side of heaven.

So with this lady, I pulled back from being her default when she had no boyfriend, the person who answered her calls in crisis. I removed myself from being a doormat under the umbrella of false love.

More examples:

I have an associate who is negative. This person loves to complain and focus on what is wrong. It drains me. I told the person this week, “I would love when we talk for it to be about something positive, goals, good things. What’s going right? There is enough crazy in the world, let’s be the change we wish to see.” I set a boundary. Please keep your constant complaining in your yard. Do I love this person, yes. Do I want to listen to hours of doom, gloom, negativity, gossip, he said/she said…no. I am not a garbage can.

I had a gentleman pursuing me who always wanted to wait until the last minute to set dates. I told him I would appreciate advance notice (not all the time-yet it was considerate to give others notice); texting me Friday afternoon to meet Friday night is a no go for constant meet ups. I set a boundary. He did not listen. So often he’d texted on Friday or Saturday afternoon and I was busy.

My female friend said it was a game to see if I was seeing other people. I am an adult. I only play games with actual children. Some may have thought that was cute. I did not. Maybe if we were a couple and had been dating awhile, yet not for someone I do not know well this was a no go and setting dates signifies value. Yes, be spontaneous…Also take the time to plan something. Gentlemen say, “I would love to see you Friday night, do you have plans?” That conversation happens before Friday. I am not clearing every weekend hoping a guy messages me. I have things to do.

If you make yourself so available to everyone, they will treat you like you have no value. If you do not value your time, value yourself, why should they? I am not saying play hard to get nor play games. I am saying if you do not respect and value your own time, others will not either.

Place God at the center. Would God want me treated this way? If not, why are you allowing it? How much time do I need to invest in this relationship? How much of my heart can they steward well? God knows.

If you have poor or low boundaries, then you will find disorder and dysfunction and poor treatment.

3. Quick to Trust and Dismissing Relational Red Flags.

I consider myself trustworthy. Therefore, I give people the benefit of the doubt. I have learned to pay attention. Watch people. Watch how they treat people. Watch how they talk about others. Do they tell everyone else’s business? They are not trustworthy with your business. Do they only show up when they need something? You are most likely a convenience. Do you make all the effort? You are in a one sided relationship. If they destroy others, do not think they will not do it to you.

Many times red flags are ignored under the, “I am a loving Christian.” Okay, be a loving Christian with wisdom. Wisdom says, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Wisdom says, “How can two be joined unless they agree?” Wisdom says, “Do not make partners with an angry person.” These are all in the Bible right along with love your neighbor. You can love someone without dating them, being close friends, being business or ministry partners, or marrying them.

One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou is as follows, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Unless they want to change or God changes them, that is what you are dealing with in a partner or friend.

4. You Are Pulling All the Relational Weight

I love giving. I love giving with no expectation of return. Yet there is wisdom required in giving as well. Too much time spent together, too much closeness without commitment, too much investment without any investment back is a set up for dysfunction.

Jesus loves perfectly and in exchange for our freedom He gave His life. When we enter into covenant, God asks for our life. Please understand God is not just giving, giving, giving and expecting nothing. He asks for our entire lives. It’s a bigger commitment than an earthly marriage.

This thought that selfless giving is to lead to one sided relationships is not covenant love. Relationships were designed to be give and take. If one person is doing all the work, it’s not love. Both people are to pursue the best interests of the other.

I have seen overgiving lead to abuse; it attracts narcissists and abusive people. Why? They thrive on taking. Selfless givers with no boundaries are easy targets.

A person who loves you will want to bless you too.

I have met so many people angry because they trusted too quickly, fell in love with the idea of someone, ignored red flags, and were burned poorly in a relationship. If you pay attention, people show you who they are. Their mouth speaks what their heart is full of and their actions, if you watch closely, manifest their heart and how they feel about you.

Placing God at the center can save us loads of heartache.

God help me to choose the right associates, friends, confidants, mate. Help me to set godly boundaries and respect those of others. I want to be the best friend I can be to someone and want that in return. Help me to not only be a blessing, but to cease settling for less than what you would offer. Break every cycle of dysfunction in my life and relationships. The common denominator is me. Show me what I am allowing or the poor or low boundaries. Help me to stay centered in you and have the best relationships possible. God help me to be healthy in my soul and attract and maintain relationships with healthy people. Jesus break cycles of dysfunction and it starts with me. Change me so I guard my heart and live out of wisdom and love! In Jesus powerful name.

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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.

Live in Reality (Single & Following Jesus Series Part VII)

Aloha friends.

Today I wanted to chat about living in reality and being realistic.

We live in a world of reality tv which does not always represent reality. We live in a world that promotes fantasy (what feels good to you, act that out).

God invites us into reality with Him. Why? God’s reality is rooted in truth, His wisdom, and holiness.

Fantasy is often rooted in seduction, lust, and deception.

Imagination is God given and can be holy; fantasy is normally rooted in pretending.

God invites us into His truth and holiness. Believing God’s truth sets us free. Believing the devil leads to bondage.

Culture vs. God’s Kingdom:

You see movies of two people falling instantly in love then bed together. They sleep together and live happily ever after right? They do not show you the people dumped after a one night stand, the pregnancies and abortions after one night stands, the sexually transmitted diseases contracted, the new demonic spirits transferred between two people, the tears on the soul, nor the decreased ability to bond to another person after casual sex. The devil never talks to people about negative consequences of stepping outside God’s boundaries. He presents something that seems good, will bring temporary pleasure, yet will not bring lasting joy and satisfaction.

The same goes with pornography. It was not until recently studies popped up showing the detriment of this activity. Fantasy in this area leads to lack of genuine love, decreased genuine intimacy with a real human, and is often the gateway for more illicit choices. Many who later participate in human trafficking (buying slaves or engaging in prostitution/abuse) started with pornography; it devalues humans and reduces them to objects instead of people.

What is Reality?

Reality is God highly values all people and they are not objects to be used for pleasure, they are people to be loved.

Godly love involves commitment, protection, and stewarding the heart of another person well. It is a love that says, “I want to honor you so I am willing to do things God’s way. I will safe guard this relationship so it brings God glory and honors you. I will not take from you without committing to you, for that is stealing what I am unwilling to cherish for life. I want to steward the gifts you are offering me of your time, resources, body, heart, and life. I want to be in covenant with you which is bound by a commitment to sacrificial, unselfish, God given love.”

Let’s talk about another form of fantasy. It happens when people start planning their marriage before their first date or idolizing someone they just met. Why is this dangerous? The person you may end up marrying may not be that person you made up in your head or the person sitting across from you at coffee. Pursuing a fantasy relationship (the made up one in the head) leads to gross disappointment when facing reality.

The made up John may cook, clean, leave roses and romantic cards. The real life John may just take out the trash.

I have seen way too many people fall in love with the idea or marriage or the idea of a person and end up grossly disappointed with reality.

Reality is until that person says, “I do,” they are not your spouse. In your head you can paint a wild, vivid fantasy that amounts to nothing. Why? Until they say, “I do,” they can still choose to walk away from the situation.

Reality is what that person shows you is what you are dealing with and have to take home. People are not projects. I have heard so many women say they will change their husband only to find out they (their spouse) has zero desire to change. They envisioned John the romantic. The reality is they got John the couch potato. In their fantasy they would marry John and make him like the Señor Suave in their head. Reality was John had zero desire to be what the fantasy was so he refused. I still tell people to pray God shows you before you say, “I do,” what you are dealing with in a partner.

Reality is marriage requires work. It as painted as an every day, all day love fest. Yet get some couples as friends who have been married awhile. They will tell you that it requires some work. Get more than just your parents who may withhold some of the deep challenges.

Reality is treating that other person like a brother or sister in the Lord or friend until their is a level of commitment. Giving yourself away, being too available/vulnerable, not setting great boundaries (including emotional/physical), and treating someone not your spouse like a spouse is the set up for heartache. We were not intended to bond with dozens of people then break up. God set up bonding and intimacy so we could form life long bonds. If you take two pieces of paper and glue them together then rip them apart, there is tearing. Neither piece remains whole.

Reality is being single is not a curse nor indication of being inferior/rejected. Jesus had no earthly wife. Paul had no wife. Mother Teresa had no husband. I would not say any of these people were cursed, without purpose, nor inferior beings. They went about doing the will of the Father. Desiring marriage is not a bad thing. Thinking it somehow improves your worth is a bad thing.

I do not know the exact map of my life nor the map of others. I do know God is good. Time can be wasted worrying or stressing over what is not happening verses enjoying who God is. In the presence of God is fullness of joy. I do know fantasy robs us of experiencing the joy of the Lord.

Papa God, for anyone who reads this that is caught up in fantasy instead of reality, I ask for your Holy Spirit to wash over them from the tops of their heads to the soles of their feet. I bind any and all seducing spirits and spirits of lust. I ask you would loose your love, peace, joy, and power. Reveal every lie they have come into agreement with that is blocking freedom. Every idol come crashing down. Holy Spirit of truth permeate every part of their being. Every addiction be bound. I ask you Lord for total freedom, inner healing, and deliverance by the power of your anointing. I decree and declare freedom from living outside Godly reality. In Jesus powerful name. Amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin

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

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.