Archives for posts with tag: Relationships

Greater success is often found in failures than in victories.  When we really think about it, what lessons do we truly learn from our conquests?  Our succession of wins simply makes us better winners, and in worse cases, sore ones.  Failure is where we experience the immensity of our growth. Our ability to reason, to reflect and to progress expands when we are faced with situation where the problems presented by our circumstances are beyond the scope of our current knowledge.  Those situations challenge us to learn and to grow.  If every action we took was executed with precision and perfection during the first pass, then we would be stagnant, and frankly, boring.

 

Our inclination to steer towards perfection is exhausting, and not to mention, impossible.  In fact, trying to achieve perfection is a waste of time and is one of the greatest impediments to growth.  The pursuit of perfection yield paralysis.  It creates a stumbling block in our minds.  The hypothetical what ifs have a tendency to fabricate and aggrandize the worse-case scenarios.  Oftentimes, the results of our actions are never as horrific as we have imagined, and so what if they were?  Short of doing something immoral or illegal, there is nothing wrong with stepping outside of our comfort zones—challenging ourselves.

 

Aside from the inherent fear of failure, many of us also get distracted by how we think others will react to and perceive our mishaps.  The truth is, most of us are doing the best we can, and no one is an authority on life.  Even the experts have achieved their portion of wisdom through trial and error.  Therefore, we should cut ourselves some slack.  We should be kind to ourselves.  There is nothing wrong with trying something new, even something scary.  We should now that we are flawed and imperfect, and that is okay.

My past two blog posts have been about prayer, particularly, praying in general.  I was going to move on to a different topic all together until I came across another individual’s blog on the topic (Pretty good read.  Check it out: https://themirific.co/2015/05/20/stagnant-christians-stagnant-enemies/ ).  In this post, the author wrote about praying for our enemies.  Yes, it is true, Jesus challenges and instructs us to pray for our enemies.  But have you ever wondered what those prayers should look like?  If I were to be completely transparent when it came to praying for my enemies, I would say that I preferred some of the move Davidic prayers found in the Psalms such as, “slap all my enemies in the face” or “shatter the teeth of the wicked,” (Psalm 3, NLT).  Those prayers speak to the core of my anger when I am hurt by my enemies.   I also figured, if it worked for David, it should work just fine for me.

While I slightly kid, I must say that the question of praying for my enemies did resonate with me this morning.  I discussed the issue with my uncle, and he provided some insight which I will share with you:

Our earthly battles all seem to come back to Ephesians 6:12, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities.”  In the Old Testament, David was waging war for a physical kingdom.  The sacrifices made in his day were physical in nature.  Today, we waging war for a spiritual kingdom.  Circumcisions in the Old Testament were physical, while today they are spiritual.  When we say those Davidic prayer, they should be prayed against the spirituals that dwell in the individuals, not against the individuals themselves.  When we truly understand that we are in spiritual warfare versus physical warfare, then we would realize that we should be praying for the deliverance of our enemies from the captivity of the evil one.  In the most rudimentary sense, the individuals who commit acts of evil are merely host to principalities.  Now, this does not completely absolve individuals of responsibly under the notion of the devil made me do it, for we all have free will.  However, it does allow for compassion towards our enemies.  For whatever reason, their free will has sent them down a path that has created a stronghold in their lives.  As we all know, bad habits are hard to break, and so are strongholds.  That is why we need to pray for our enemies.  We need to pray for their deliverance.  Notice that when Jesus prayed, he always prayed for others to be delivered from their infirmities.  Oftentimes, their blessings were found in the deliverance.

This whole topic of prayer brought me back to a previous blog where I begged the question: “How different would our world be if we simply prayed for things that weren’t already being prayed for?”  Imagine if we got to heaven and God told us that we could have dramatically changed the world, but we didn’t because those prayers were never released.  Would that knowledge change how we prayed today?  For me, one of the biggest frustrations, and even hesitations, with prayer is that I don’t always see the results of my prayers.  Sometimes, I feel as though God hasn’t heard me or that He is slow to act.  The Bible reminds us that, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient…” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV).  We have to remember that God is sovereign and that He might not answer our prayers in the manner and time we want, but He has His reasons for His approach.

Today, I challenge all of us to put on the armor of God:  the belt of truth, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:12).  Let us pray for our world, our government, our enemies, our families and friends and ourselves.  Included below is a prayer of protection over our family and friends:

Today, Lord I pray an anointing over myself and my family.  I pray a hedge of protection around us.  I pray that the enemy and his allies would not be allowed to penetrate this fence, and that the gates surrounding the hedges are locked and sealed with the blood of Jesus Christ.  I pray that angels will be dispatched to the four corners of this fence and that they will protect and defend us from all attacks.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Screenshot_2016-06-11-17-24-12-1.pngEvery now and then, I come across what I would call a social media gem.  The other day, I was scrolling through the pages of social media when I caught a glimpse of a quote that made me pause and take notice.  It read:

 

 

“STOP ADDING PEOPLE TO YOUR LIFE WITH THE SAME CHARACTERISTICS AS THE PEOPLE YOU ASKED GOD TO REMOVE.” Unknown.

 

I’m not quite sure who said it first, as many social media pages have posted the quote as their own.   Nonetheless, it struck a cord with me.

 

Relationships are as hard as people are imperfect.  We all have our ways—that thing about us that probably irks the life out of everyone else.  However, in order for us to have healthy, successful relationships, we have to be willing to overlook, and sometimes embrace, others’ shortcomings, just as we would expect them to embrace ours.  Relationships will never be equal, but they should be reciprocal.  In other words, there will be time when we give more than we receive, but it should balance out in the end.  We should strive to surround ourselves with people who replenish our cup, not deplete our well.

 

Many of us want great relationships, but, the truth is, many of our views on relationships have been skewed by our current dysfunctional relationships.  Some of us have become so accustomed to being in a position of lack that we don’t know how to ask for what we want and to receive what we deserve.  Oftentimes, the status quo becomes our new normal because we don’t know any better and because we have no measure against which to judge whether or not our current relationships are worthy investments.  Although I am no expert on the topic, however, below are a few pointers that I have picked up along the way:

 

  1. Know that when all else fails, God loves you, and He will NEVER forsake you.
  2. Know that you are worthy to be loved.
  3. Know that it’s okay to say, “I deserve better!”
  4. Learn to recognize when you are being taken for granted.
  5. Learn to recognize when you are being used.
  6. Observe the way the people in your life treat other people.
    1. This statement could go two ways:
      1. If the people in your life treat others badly, then, they will probably disregard you at some point.
      2. If the people in your life always put others before you, then they are probably taking your relationship for granted.
    2. Learn to be a friend.
    3. Learn to say no.
    4. Know that you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
    5. Don’t become a victim of faux loyalty and nostalgia.  Sometimes relationships were only meant to be seasonal.

 

Relationships take work.  They require effort.  People who value us and truly desire to be in relationship with us WILL put in the work.  If we are the ones who are always taking the initiative in our relationships, then we need to reevaluate and reposition those people in our lives.   We need to take note.  Are we the ones who are always calling, text or planning?  If we are, then we might want to evaluate whether value is being placed on our friendship—on us.  Sometimes, it’s better to be alone than to exhaust ourselves on toxic relationships.  The problem is many of us are creatures of habit.  Whenever we get rid of one bad seed in our lives, we often replace it with another of its kind.  At some point, we are the common denominator.  Ultimately, we have to realize that there is something that we are doing that enables and attracts these types of people and behaviors.  Again, we need to look at some of the pointers from above and remember that we deserve to be treated well.  We deserve to have genuine, honest relationships.

Empty Well

It is so important for us to read the bible in context.  So often, we memorize key verses and phrases, and neglect to see the bigger picture.  This morning, as I thought about this blog on empty wells, Galatians 6:2 came to mind: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” (NIV).  But as I meditated on the verse, I realized that it was the second verse of the chapter.  What did the previous verse say?  In fact, the previous verse served as a cautionary statement.  It said: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted,” (NIV).  The New Life Version reads, “You who are stronger Christians should lead that one back into the right way. Do not be proud as you do it. Watch yourself, because you may be tempted also.”  Firstly, the verse calls for the “stronger Christians” to lead his brother/sister back into the right way.  Secondly, it cautions the “leading” individuals to refrain from becoming proud and to be careful of falling into the same trap.  The truth is, we all have areas where we are strong and areas where we falter.  Moreover, these areas may vary by season and/or circumstances.  It is important for us to understand that while God has called us to bear one another’s burdens, there is only one Savior.  We were not designed to save everyone.  In fact, if we do not continue to replenish our wells, then we run the risk of running emotionally and spiritually dry.

If you are consistently playing the role of the go-to person in your relationships, there will come a point where your well will run dry.  If you incessantly pour out and do not replenish your reserve, you will bottom out.  This could have multiple physical, mental and spiritual ramifications.  Below are a few things that I have found helpful during some of my darkest moments.

  1. Be kind to yourself
    1. Know that some days you will fly, and some days you will fall. Some people will think you are the greatest, and some will think that you are the worse.  However, neither one of these things define who you are.  Only God defines you.  He made you, and He knows who He has called you to be.  No one else has that authority, including you!
  1. Keep inventory of your “well” reserve
    1. Most credit counselors advise against credit card use. Why?  With credit card usage, there is a tendency to spend more than we have.  Debit card are just as bad.  I would venture to say that most people are not balancing their account ledger after each swipe of their card.  It’s no wonder the banking industry makes so much money on overdraft fees.  The same is true of our emotional bank account.  If we are not keeping an accurate account of our balance, there will be a tendency to over extend and/or over commit.  If we don’t keep accurate accounting, we will spend more than we have to give.  This brings me to Item #3.
  1. Learn to say “No!”
    1. Saying “no” is way more than simply refusing a request. Sometimes saying “no” could mean declining to answer an email, a text or a missed called.  For some, this is the biggest step towards establishing healthy boundaries in relationships.
  1. Keep inventory of those who are making deposits and withdrawal into and away from your wells
    1. Relationships are seldom equal. However, our relationships must be mutually beneficial.  In other words, we will have relationships where one person brings more to the table than the other.  The important thing for us to remember is that we should maintain a healthy balance of the different types of relationships in our lives.  Again, if we are always giving more than we are receiving, then our relationships are out of sync, which will eventually lead to a dry well.
  1. Take note during your hour of darkness.
    1. Who are the ones calling solely to check on you—not to gossip, not to vent, but simply to check on your well being?  Oftentimes, when you tend to be the strong one in your relationships, people erroneously think that you don’t have problems or that your problems are secondary to theirs.  Please understand that is an unfair and unrealistic expectation.  The people in your life must be able to acknowledge that you too are human, and as such, you too have your cross to bear.
  1. Know that you cannot be everything to anyone person.
    1. I recently had a conversation with a friend who said to me that in relationships, we meet our needs by drawing from the many wells in our lives. Whenever, we start to draw predominantly from one well, we put that other person in an unfair position, which is too much pressure to place on any one person.

Now, after having said all that, I will say this:  When we are weak, God will make us strong.  There are times when God will push us beyond what we thought we could do or where we thought we could go.  However, the problem in many of our lives is that we fail to ask Him for His counsel, and we busy ourselves with things, people and tasks that He never commissioned us to take on.  Sometimes, God is doing a work in our lives and He is doing work in others’ lives as well.  My final parting note is that we should seek God in all that we do, and He will give us the guidance that we so desire.

Relationship Checklist Pic

So many of us have such a clear idea of what we want in a friend or a romantic companion.  But, how do we compare to that list?

Today marks the fourteenth day of our 21-day Challenge.  The purpose of this challenge is for us to fearlessly trust God for 21 days.  A big part of trusting God requires us to take a look at ourselves.  Over the past few days, I have blogged about different topics in an attempt to challenge our perspective.  Today, I want to challenge all of us, myself included, to be the person on our relationship checklist.

Many of us, at some point, have asked God to bless us with relationships, whether platonic or romantic.  We want God to bring the “perfect” people into our lives, but we have not taken stock as to whether or not we are that person we are praying for.  We have to remember that we are not the only ones with wants and needs.  Other people have the same prayerful expectation of the people that they want God to bring into their lives.  Perhaps, we need to spend today determining what our expectations of relationships are and comparing ourselves to that list.  Below is a sample checklist and some ideas of how we can check ourselves against that list.

Relationship checklist:

  • God Fearing
    • How is your relationship with God?  How is your relationship with other people?
    • “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see,” (1 John 4:20, NLT)?
  • Generous/Kind
    • Do you share your resources (i.e. your time, your money, your belongings)?
  • Trustworthy/Has integrity
    • How do you act when no one is looking?
  • Thoughtful/Understanding
    • When was the last time you did something “just because?”
    • Even something as simple as sending a text to say “hello” could mean the world to someone else.
  • Forgiving
    • Do you hold a grudge, or do you let things slide?
  • Patient
    • Do you understand that others might not be as quick on the uptake as you, and therefore, it takes them longer to get things that might take you a shorter time?
  • Good listener
    • Do you actively listen, or are you always waiting for a pause in the conversation to initiate your turn to talk?
  • Caring
    • Can you see past other people’s shortcomings?
    • How do you treat others who aren’t your friend?
    • How do you treat people you don’t like?
  • Loving
    • How do you talk to and about people?
    • Are you quick to judge and point out other people’s faults?
  • Even-tempered
    • Are you quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger, (James 1:19).

Day 23: The 30-Day Marriage Prayer Challenge:  A-CORD-ing to God!

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
The toils of life can sometimes be difficult. There are times where the day’s requirements overwhelm our spirit. It’s on those days where we need the most support and encouragement. Know that we were not meant to do life alone. Know that God has created us for partnerships and relationships. Sometimes, all we need to get through the day is an uplifting word, a pat on the back, a kiss on the cheek or a smile of encouragement.
If you have someone in your life that is always encouraging you and acting as a source of strength, thank them. Let them know how much you appreciate them in your life. According to the old adage, “Encouragement strengthens labor.” If you are married, let your spouse know how much you love and need them. If you are single, pray that God brings the right person in your life that will complement you and love you as Christ loved the Church. In Jesus name, we thank Him for every relationship. May all your relationships be blessed. Amen!