Aug
17

Relationships: 12 Truths You Can Use to Evaluate Yours

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My life journey has taught me about relationships. What I now know about healthy relationships reflects years of good, bad, and ugly relationships. Relationships can build us up or tear us down. Relationship mistakes can leave us shipwrecked, damaged, drained, and generally just off course. Here are a few principles I’ve learned throughout the years. 

1. We were made for relationships. In the very beginning, God said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone, and He later established His church and pictured it as a body in which all the parts need each other.  

2. Good relationships require work. Just like a productive garden requires weeding, feeding, and watering, a good relationship will need attending to.  

3. Good relationships stretch us, encourage us to grow, gently hold up a mirror for us to see our personal truth.  

4. Friendships are one kind of good relationships. There are others, such as mentors, spiritual directors, etc. Not every relationship is destined to be a friendship. That’s not a bad thing. Relationships that are not primarily friendships look differently than ones that are. For example, when we are mentoring we don’t expect to be poured into in the same way that we might in a friendship. We will be touched and changed in those relationships, but they don’t have the same dimensions as friendship.  

5. Friendships are reciprocal. We give of our time, love, and energy to one another. A valuable friendship is not one sided.  

6. Space is not necessarily a friendship killer. Allowing your friends to have a life, not needing to possess them or control them, is healthy.  

7. Relationships have spheres. One friend may share my love for music or beautiful art; another may explore the riches of God’s Word with me; another may relish sharing the depths of a great book. One person doesn’t have to be everything to be a valuable friend.  

8. An unhealthy relationship zaps you, drains you, asks you to violate healthy boundaries, and does not contribute to your overall well-being.  

9. God’s Spirit can guard you from making relationship mistakes. One of the worst mistakes I’ve ever made in a relationship began when I ignored the still small voice of God that said, “Something is wrong here.”    

10. Good relationships are caring relationships.  

11. Good relationships encourage the deep sharing of our hearts and provide a safe place to be who you are, without fear of judgment.  

12. A relationship should hold up to an honest evaluation as to whether or not it is healthy. We must be willing to ask ourselves how the relationship affects us spiritually, mentally, emotionally, behaviorally, etc. While not every relationship will be strong in every area, if the overall picture of the relationship is negative, it’s probably time to make changes.  

David Benner, in his wonderful book, Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship and Direction, says “Every relationship we experience, particularly every significant relationship, changes us in important ways. The question is, do those changes aid our growth or hinder it? Is the overall impact of the relationship on my spiritual journey positive or negative?” 

Will you take a few moments to honestly evaluate the significant relationships in your life? Don’t expect perfection, but look at direction. Is the overall effect of the relationship on your life positive or negative? Are you growing as a result of the relationship? 

Do you need to change in order to be a better friend? Pastor? Mentor? 

Is there a relationship you need to end or at least detach from? 

Can you find new and more meaningful ways of doing life with others? 

Relationships. Good ground for our inner soul work. Going deeper. Growing up. Will you take the risk of working on yours today?

 

 

 

 

 

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