What does it take to have sustainable and healthy relationships? With God? With others?
Today marks the 33rd anniversary of my marriage to the love of my life, Maureen.
I had some downtime today before we go out so I thought I would post some of my thoughts about relationships.
I am so blessed to be married to a woman who is so beautiful, inside and out, and so brilliant too! She’s a better writer than I, and a great teacher too. We are full partners, not only in life, but also in our ministry. And one way we have ministered together all these years is in helping people in their relationships.
We have literally met with hundreds of couples, individuals, some of these meetings were more like a war zone than a loving relationship.
And one critical point we have found that is a key to good relationships is this.
Become a powerful “you.”
Your relationship with God is where it all starts, but that doesn’t guarantee that you will have healthy relationships with others.
We’re currently conducting a class at our church called “Defining the Relationship” by Danny Silk. It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen (and very funny too). He does a great job in explaining what it means to be a powerful person versus being powerless. That’s what I wanted to focus on here, using some of his points and my own that I have learned.
These things are true whether we’re talking about a marriage, at church, or in the family or workplace.
First, powerless people…
Powerless people can be aggressive and demanding. They’re powerless because they don’t value other people. They communicate, “I matter and you don’t.”
Powerless people can also communicate, “You matter and I don’t.” So they play the role of the victim, the abused, in relationships.
Powerless people live in fear, and what they can’t control can make them angry, so they control by playing the role of the abuser in relationships.
Powerless people think you’re wrong if you’re not like them. The goal of every argument is being right. So no resolution can happen for them without one being right, which means that the other must be wrong.
Powerless people think, “Since I am only comfortable with people like me, the only way you can have a healthy relationship with me is for you to become…me.” So, who you really are as a person must disappear, which leads to further anxiety in the relationship.
Powerless people blame others. I can’t tell you how many troubled marriages I’ve had come into my office so very willing to confess the other’s sins, yet trying to get them to admit their part is quite a torturous affair.
Powerless people won’t take responsibility for their behavior. They only think about what the other person is doing to them. They feel justified in their negative behavior because of how the other person treated them.
Powerless people say, “I will only change if you do.”
Powerless people’s disagreements often turn into an escalating series of retaliations.
Powerless people carry an atmosphere of anxiety and turmoil with them wherever they go. In whatever relationship they’re in, there is stress and tension.
Powerless people put their happiness in the hands of others.
Powerless people “fall into” love,.” In other words, gravity did it to them! So they quit the relationship whenever they “fall out” of love.” And if a feeling is all that got you into the relationship, a feeling will get you out.
Powerless people want grace and understanding given to them for their mistakes, but will pass judgment on others who do the same to them.
On the other hand, let’s look at powerful people…
Powerful people know how to manage themselves. They communicate, “Your behavior will never effect how I treat you.”
Powerful people don’t need to be right, they seek to understand so that there can be heart-felt connection.
Powerful people say, “I’m going to change no matter what you do. I will remain committed to my core values no matter how you treat me.
Powerful people don’t operate out of fear and anxiety so they’re not afraid to be vulnerable and honest. They operate with the goal of love and intimacy.
Powerful people decide to love. They say, “I choose you” (Jn.15:16). And this is the basis of their commitment to the relationship, not how the other makes them feel.
Powerful people make the other feel secure in their love because of this unshakable commitment to the relationship.
Powerful people have learned that unconditional love actually has no conditions attached to it.
Powerful people are unoffendable because taking offense is a choice, and they have chosen to respond with patience, respect, honor and grace instead.
Powerful people find their affirmation and value in how God sees them, so they can walk in peace with all people.
Powerful people’s core value is found in the fruit of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal.5:22-23). And they are keenly aware that contrary behavior to this is not acceptable under any circumstance.
Powerful people show grace for other’s powerlessness. This includes their own moments of powerlessness, even when none is given to them by others.
There’s so much more I could say about this. I could share how powerless I was for so many years…blaming others for my negative emotions, living in self-pity, making everything revolve around me. It was pathetic, looking back at it now. 🙂
The only answer to powerlessness is to repent. Which simply means, change your mind and start agreeing with God.
Beloved, if you want a wonderful marriage, loving relationships, and sustainable friendships, then decide to become powerful. Let us give up this illusion of our powerlessness that we have believed so long about ourselves.
Remember, wherever you go, there you are…but also, there is God…because He is in you! You have the “exceedingly abundantly above all that you can ask or think” power working in you! (Eph.3:20). Therefore, you become powerful as soon as you decide to be.
- Awaken my heart to first love (melwild.wordpress.com)
Congratulations to you! You are so blessed. Unfortunately, long-lasting relationships are becoming a rarer thing in our society. Also, this post is rich and so valuable to any type of relationship. I think my peers and most people really need to retrain themselves to be “powerful” individuals in their communication, relationships, and overall lives. Thanks!
Thanks, Michael. Yes, lasting relationships are more and more rare, even lasting friendships, because of some of these things. We’re taught a lot of things in school, except how to have good relationships and truly be powerful people. We decided at our church to have our married couples go through this course (“Defining the Relationship”) and it’s really helped. We also offer this as a course to our ministry students who are not in a relationship right now. Like you said, it’s so important in all our relationships. Some of the parents are now sharing these things with their kids. I think that’s awesome. I wish I was taught these things when I was growing up! 🙂
I appreciate your comments. Blessings to you.
Happy Anniversary 🙂 and thank you so much for passing this on … this is worth reading over a few times … powerful!
Thank you, Heidi. I appreciate your comments about the post too. We had a wonderful time yesterday, and over the last week in fact. Our three sons are home visiting from Washington, met our oldest son’s girlfriend whose parents actually live in this area, and today we’re going to one of their friend’s wedding. So, it’s been a week about having good relationships, old and new. Blessings. 🙂
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