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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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 You Love You? (Sacred Sex Series Part VIII) 

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Do you love you? I know it may seem like a silly question, yet it is an important question. How we feel about ourselves impacts every relationship we have. 

We accept the love we feel we deserve. 

I am working on a book about insecurity. One of the issues with insecurity is it attracts poor treatment which causes feelings of rejection. These feelings of rejection lead to more insecurity that attracts poor treatment. The poor treatment creates wounds of rejection. The cycle continues. 

Insecurity is a lack of love for oneself. It is an image of self that is tainted and twisted. This tainted view can lead to fear, lack of proper boundaries, people pleasing, jealousy, control, being easily offended, enabling, abuse, codependency, accepting poor treatment, promiscuity, over indulging, gross selfishness, putting self or others down, shame, or overgiving/overinvesting. 

Insecurity is an issue that began in the Garden of Eden and has continued to plague mankind. There is a solution for insecurity that comes in relationship with God. He is pure love. His love casts out all fear, insecurity, and identity issues. 

True identity comes from knowing who God is and then who we are in Christ. The only sure and stable identity is in God. 

The truest love we will ever know comes from God. God love is pure/holy, not based on our merit or behavior, and fills us to overflowing. 

We must know God’s love for ourselves before we can love another or receive love from another. I will repeat this again…we must know God’s love for ourselves. 

My close friends have heard it over and over, it is not love God, then others, yourself last. I want to burn every t-shirt or meme with this statement enscribed there. The flow of love goes like this, “God so loved the world. We receive God’s love. Once we receive God’s love we love ourselves. We give the love God offers back to Him and love our neighbor AS we love ourselves.” 

We cannot love our neighbor as we love ourselves if we do not love ourselves. It will not happen! 

We can can only give what we possess and release what we carry. If you ask me for 10 dollars and I have no money, I can not give you any money. So, we are encouraged by Jesus to abide in the Vine (Him) and there would be abundant fruit (John 15:4-5). 

What does loving yourself look like? 

1. Finding your identity in God instead of things, people, relationships, looks, material things, or opinions of others. 

2. Forgiving yourself as God does. God does not bring up stuff we have repented of and laid before Him. As far as the east is from the west, that is how far He removes our transgressions from us. 

3. Speaking well of yourself. Putting ourselves down is not helpful. Speak life! If you need some help click here 110 Affirmations with Scriptures

4. Setting healthy boundaries. Are you allowing things in your life that are unhealthy, stress you out? Do you have people who put you down or treat you bad and you let them? Do you say yes to things you do not want to do? It’s a new year…you can start afresh with in tact boundaries. 

5. Taking care of your mind, body, spirit. Are you taking care of yourself? If you do not, who will? Yes God supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory. He also will not possess us to go to the gym, not binge eat, brush our teeth or hair, study the Bible, meditate on good things. We have to do those things. We are entrusted to take care of many aspects of our lives. 

6. Quit accepting toxic relationships. I believe we are called to love everyone. I do not believe we are called to be best friends or close friends with everyone. Why? Bad company corrupts good character. Who we connect with deeply impacts our lives. 

Is that person kind to you or do they put you down? 

Do you do all of the investing or do they invest too? 

Do they keep your confidences or are they the town gossip? 

How do they treat your friends and family? 

Is the relationship filled with peace, love, and joy or confusion, chaos, endless tears? 

Do you feel safe, valued, appreciated, seen, and heard? 

Is it about mutual investment or all about the other person? 

We should not enter relationships for what we can gain. We should also assess relationships that are mostly one sided or leave us in constant tears or confusion. We should assess relationships where we do not feel safe or genuinely cared for and loved. 

So I end this post asking, “Do you love you?” 


Love, 

Erin Lamb 

Love Yourself

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these, Mark 12:31. 

Good morning! I hope you all had a great weekend. This devotion focuses on you. Yes, you. Loving yourself. It’s been taught that to focus on oneself is sin or selfish and to be a martyr for Jesus is the most noble of all things. Here’s an inside tip:

We cannot love our neighbor if we don’t love ourselves. You cannot give away what you do not possess. It’s impossible. God wants you to love and accept yourself. He also wants you to take care of yourself; mind, body, and soul. God heals and He restores, but if we continually abuse the bodies He has given us, allow our minds to be polluted with garbage, and neglect our emotional needs, then we will continue to suffer. Also, a drowning person cannot save a drowning person. Therefore, we are expected to go to God with our needs and get them met and take care of ourselves.  We are expected to take care of ourselves and love the person God made.

Many fear taking care of themselves for fear of being selfish. Well, a healthy person is far more capable of helping others than a sick and broken person.

Here are some other tidbits on why it is important to love yourself.

1.      What We Project Is What We Attract. If we don’t love ourselves, we attract people who don’t love themselves. Two broken people leads to more brokenness. Each person seeks their emotional needs to be met primarily by someone else which creates a tremendous burden. The focus is what the other person can do to make the other one feel okay. It can lead to co-dependency and dependant relationships. Instead of, “I Love You,” it’s “I need you.” Two broken people don’t make a whole person, two whole people make a whole person. Also bullies, manipulators, controlling, and abusive personalities are attracted to people who don’t love themselves or are weak willed. 

2.      We Allow Ourselves To Be Mistreated. I have met so many people who refuse to stand up for themselves because they feel it’s unloving. When we allow people to mistreat us we are making a statement that we don’t value ourselves. There is a difference between turning the other cheek (not seeking revenge or to return the same treatment) and allowing yourself to be abused, belittled, and mistreated. Think of it this way, is your behavior helping the other person see Jesus or furthering the gospel? If not and you are laying down and allowing people to walk on you for no reason, it’s a problem. God wants you, hear me out, to be treated well. He wants you surrounded by people who will love you the way He does. If everyone around you treats you poorly, you may be part of the problem. What we tolerate is what we are telling people we deserve. Love is not enabling bad behavior. Love points to truth. Sometimes you have to say to someone, “I love you, but I will not allow you to treat me this way. These are our boundaries and if you want a relationship then please adhere to them.” 

3.      We Don’t Value or Honor Others. When we don’t value ourselves, we don’t value or honor others. It goes back to the, “You can’t give away what you don’t have.” A person who does not love themselves, cannot love anyone else. The people I have met who have done the best job at honoring, loving, and respecting others have been the people who love themselves. They excel at giving honor, because they know that they are valuable, therefore others are valuable.  

4.      We Are Stewards Not Owners. Our bodies belong to God. It is the temple where the Holy Spirit lives (1 Cor. 6:19). We are expected to take care of ourselves. In church we focus on getting our minds right, meditating on God’s word, and making sure our spirits are right. There is less focus on being healthy physically. I have been convicted at how I treat my body: lack of sleep, lack of water, lack of eating healthy food. I’d cry out, “God I am so tired, please help me.” And His response was, “Drink more water.” No joke. So, sometimes our sickness is our doing. Ouch! But true. We don’t own these bodies, they belong to the Lord, and He cares how we treat them. 

5.      God Loves You More Than You Love You. Sometimes we think God only cares about our spirit. Wrong. He cares who our friends are. He cares how we feel. He cares about every single detail. He cares more than anyone else. What matters to us, matters to Him. If God loves us so much and He cannot lie, then why can’t we love ourselves? It is not pride to value oneself. It’s healthy. Bill Johnson quote, “Self deprecation is not humility, it is the most subtle form of pride.” We have taught people to put themselves down to be humble, but what we are saying to God when we self deprecate is this, “You make junk. You are not perfect in wisdom. You are not the most intelligent, creative, Being on the planet.” Humility is a right assessment of oneself in relation to God. Humility is saying, “I am wonderfully made by God. He is the reason I am gifted, talented,….etc…” All Glory goes to Him. 

Well, that’s a wrap folks. I hope and pray that your week overflows with the love, joy, peace, and hope of Jesus. You are deeply loved, today and every day. You have a divine purpose for being alive.

God made you awesome! You are not less than or more than, you are equal in value to those around you.

Abba, I pray for healthy confidence based on who we are in You. Help us to have identities that are firmly rooted in Christ. May we be healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Heal us from the inside out, and put us on display for Your Glory. May we see ourselves and others through Your eyes. Impart boldness, confidence, hope, and wisdom. Fill us up, then pour us out. I ask for divine healing, restoration, and freedom! In Jesus mighty name, Amen.