Healthy Relationships

Relationships are hard.

We are human. And humans are not perfect.

We say things we shouldn’t, do things that make others mad, and are forgetful. We hurt those closest to us. Sometimes without even being aware.

So, how do we have close relationships – whether that’s with friends, family, or our spouse – and keep them healthy?

Well, I think there are a zillion self help books out there about relationships. But let’s take a look at the Bible to see what God says about it.

Colossians 3:13 says, “Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you.” (GNT)

Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (NIV)

Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (NIV)

John 13:34 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (NIV)

I think we could find hundreds of verses that instruct us on how to be in relationship with others. But, what does all this mean? How can we put this into practical terms?

Well, let’s look at a few examples:

Forgive. When a friend forgets your birthday. When your spouse comes home late and forgot to call. When your kid gets on your ever-lovin’ last nerve. Forgive.

Be patient. When your friend is late for a lunch date. When your husband isn’t giving you the attention you desire. When your kids just can’t get that homework.

Be compassionate. When your friend has had a hard day. When your husband is sick. When your kid had their heart broken.

Love. When your friend is lonely. When your husband craves your attention. When your kid is growing so fast.

Obviously, these are only a few examples of how we can help our relationships be healthier. What would you add to this list?

Loving Yourself in the Midst of Stress

Stress comes and stress goes.

How we handle it and what we do with it greatly affects our physical, mental, and spiritual health. There has been much research on what happens to our bodies under stress. Many studies confirm what I found to be true for myself: When we don’t deal with stress in a healthy way and stuff it down our bodies hold on to it until we end up having physical symptoms. That could be something like chronic illnesses, pain, even diseases like cancer, digestive diseases, fibromyalgia, etc.

So, what can you do to help love yourself in the midst of stress (a.k.a – take care of yourself)? Here’s my top 5 suggestions:

  1. Pray – Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. When you take time out of your day in quietness with God you will automatically turn down the stress response. Plus, God can help if you ask Him too!
  2. Forgive – Often when we’re stressed we want to blame others. I invite for you to offer forgiveness in a time when anger or frustration would normally come out instead.
  3. Take time for yourself – Maybe even just a few minutes here or there breathing, praying, or whatever to help calm the central nervous system. Fill your cup!
  4. Sleep and exercise – Yes, this is taking care of yourself! Getting enough sleep and exercise is super important when we’re stressed. When we’re tired and our bodies don’t get the movement they crave we are more likely to be grouchy and snap.
  5. Relax with family or friends – Research shows that spending time with those we love helps relieve stress. Laughter is the best medicine!

What is your go-to when you are stressed? How do you manage it?

To Love or Not to Love

Are you willing to potentially have a broken heart? Are you willing to be vulnerable? Are you willing to put your self on the line?

I heard this quote from a Brene Brown book. It struck me then and even more now.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

-C.S. Lewis

Sometimes in life we put ourselves out there. We risk being seen. We allow ourselves, our thoughts, our visions, our goals, our lives to be vulnerable. We risk it all.

For love.

This quote struck me intensely today because my heart is breaking over a situation. But this quote reminds me that giving love (a.k.a. time, energy, feeling, passion…) is taking a risk. Perhaps the biggest risk in life.

But if we choose to lock ourselves away, harden our hearts, and allow no one in then we’ll never experience what God intended for us. We might be stifling the greatest gift God has for our lives. And let me tell you I have hardened my heart before and it’s not a fun place to be.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37-39:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

So, the question, “To love or not to love?” has an answer. Right here. We are told to love God and love people. All people.

Is your heart breaking today? Perhaps, you too have allowed yourself to love and you’ve been hurt in the process. Take heart my friend.

God is with us, and He is for us! There is nothing in this world that can separate us from His love. That doesn’t mean that life won’t hurt. God is very clear that we will have trouble in this world. But take heart, “He has overcome the world.”

Isaiah 26:3

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.