rugby 2

‘Relationships’ is such a popular topic. So long as we are human, then we are all experiencing them to some degree. Just being alive on this planet means we have some sort of relationship with our parents, siblings, girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, husbands, co employees, bosses etc…

I have experienced my fair share of relationships too, and they have never been easy. I mean, how could it possibly be an easy thing to put two people together, each with different ideas, different perspectives, different ways of processing things, making decisions, and so on, then expect them to unite perfectly as one without disagreements. It does not and will not happen. That’s why any relationships need a variety of things to make them work. Whenever I visit my family in London, I’m so exciting to see my beautiful loving sister, my amazingly loving mum, yet that same amazingly loving mum is the same person I end up in terrible arguments with at some point, simply from processing our thoughts differently, or having different perspectives on things. I also manage to get into disagreements with my boyfriend, as our ‘supposed’ conversation does not go the way I had been expecting at the beginning of the conversation. Why? Because again we both sometimes have completely different views on things, what is normal for me, might not be normal for him and visa versa. But here I am taking his advice. He always says that if you want to make a change in a relationship, to start with yourself. If you want someone more loving, be more loving. If you want someone more patient, be more patient.

Thinking back to how I learned things growing up, this theory would make total sense. I never once learned something that actually meant anything to me without seeing it in action (except for a few moments as a vulnerable child in which case you could have told me there are flying elephants and I may have believed you). Until I’m old enough and wise enough to prove the statement to be false that is. If something is to be taught, then it should be taught through example. Words without action do nothing but make me question the validity of the subject even more. And if something was truly important to us, then why would we expect it from others in the first place if we were not doing it ourselves. That doesn’t make much sense at all.

Of course in an ideal world, it would be nice if we didn’t have to be the teacher to certain things, yet we do not live in an ideal world and no one is perfect. My strengths are different to David’s, and his to mine, which is why it’s good that instead of fighting our differences, we learn to help each other grow and understand each other better in these areas. If a discussion is a weak spot then why fight something that can’t possibly hold up a good fight and needs all the encouragement and guidance it can get!

In fact, if we were all perfect and got on perfectly well, then it would possibly be a very selfish world because there then wouldn’t be any need for relationships. Relationships are designed to give support to one another. If we didn’t need support, then we wouldn’t need relationships either.

Genesis 2:18
The Lord God said. “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

This is all very easy to say but not so easy to do in certain situations where pride and selfishness would be the initial response. And in these cases, I believe we can’t possibly make a change without spiritual maturity. Our strength will never be enough to deal with certain things alone, (the right way) that don’t always come naturally to us. We need a help much greater than just us alone.

Here are some signs you may not be in a spiritually mature relationship, and what (in my experience, and I’m not an expert), you can do about it.

Your Relationship Is Not Consistent
Your relationship is a bit like a yoyo. You might be really kind to each other one moment and not the next. Usually the moments of kindness are when it’s easy to be kind, and the times you are not so kind is during disagreements when we need the kindness even more yet our pride does not allow us to offer it.
I’m often reminded that fighting evil with evil does not work. It just makes more evil right!? So if the only way to destroy evil is with even more good then it’s like putting out a fire. The bigger the fire, the more water (good) it needs to put it out! So if a fire makes us want to throw more flames and make it worse, then how do we make sure we are prepared with a huge amount of water to help put it out instead of throwing more flames on it?

Romans 12:21
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

We need a strong relationship with God. If things only get better with practice, and if nothing is possible without the strength and wisdom of God, then we should be making our relationship with God NUMBER 1 priority. Not only should we be having quiet time reading his word (wisdom) morning and night, but we should be going to him for advice every single time a disagreement comes up. How many times have you picked up a bible and prayed together during a disagreement instead of fighting a no-win battle between the two of you. I know I haven’t done this even close to nearly enough. And the only way we would seek God first in a situation like this fuelled with a bunch of selfish, automatic reactions, is to have God’s words engraved so deeply in our heart that it becomes our automatic response. This takes time and dedication to developing that kind of relationship, but if we have so much time for everything else in the world that wouldn’t work without him anyway, then we should obviously have time for the one thing that would make all those other things succeed. If we truly love the people we say we love then we would do everything in our power to make it work, not just the things that are convenient for us in our own time. And more importantly, if we truly love God, then we would want to give him that time and have a strong relationship with him. We were not meant to be acquaintances, he was meant to be our ‘everything’, and that definitely deserves the most time. And quite frankly, if whatever we are doing in our lives gets in the way of our time with God, then we might need to question if we are living his purpose for our lives, as his purpose would never be one that would not allow a relationship with him.

Psalm 37:9
“But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble.”

You Are Not Always Honest With Each Other
No relationship can grow without honesty. A relationship is team work. It’s saying goodbye to the ‘think for myself’ mentality, and joining in decisions with another person. This requires complete transparency not just when it’s convenient, but all the time. If we are not being truthful with certain things, or holding back the truth of certain things (simply because the person doesn’t ask) which is still being dishonest, then we are damaging our relationship. Team work doesn’t happen without knowing the team members next moves so that you know exactly how to work together. Like passing the ball on a field, you might not always know exactly where your team member will be, but you have a good idea as you discussed your moves before the game, and you are 100% working together with a complete understanding of the game plan, and your eyes on the same goal.

When we are not honest with each other we are either harbouring lies, which causes a lot of guilt and stress for ourselves whether we know it or not, or we are possibly sharing those lies with someone else and hiding them from the person we are supposed to be close too and honest with. This means we are jeapordizing our relationship with the person we love while using our team effort on the opponents team. Anyone who is willing to hide our lies that are hurtful to someone else is probably not on the same team but the opposing team. A good friend will always advise us to do the right thing, and if they don’t we should be questioning who’s side they are on. The sad part is when we enjoy the fact that they put up with our ‘bad behavior’ which is a clear sign of spiritual maturity lacking. Once again, the only way to fight this instinct of ours to lie, is to seek a closer relationship with God. A relationship so strong that we are already equipped with the power to do the right thing, to not hurt the people we love, and to be a better influence and example to others. We will never make a difference in the world if we are not honest with the world. Integrity is the key here. Not only should we know what is the right thing to do, but we should do it too. Only then will our lives make any real difference to this world we live in. In fact, there have been studies and surveys done, such as in “The Millionaire Mind” that determined the number one success factor for millionaires, is being honest with all people, in all relationships.

Proverbs 2:20-21
So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it

Proverbs 28:18
Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.

God even said he IS the truth and the life. So we can find truth and a successful life in the honesty that comes from him, and only by us seeking him always, everyday. Especially the times we don’t want to as those are the times we need him more!

John 14:6
“I am the way and the truth and the life”

You Take More Than Give
I was once given the advice by a wise man to watch a series called ‘I Marriage’. I have yet to watch this, but apparently it helps us realize the serious effect expectations can have on a relationship. If we are expecting something the other person does not deliver, then we are setting us both up for a fall. If we have the mentality to give instead of expect then the more we give, the more the other person will feel loved and want to give too. It’s not saying give to get something in return as that is still ‘expecting’, (although the more we give does mean more blessings in our lives), but it’s saying to give without expecting something in return. The beauty of doing this means that we get more in return than we could have hoped for without stressing everyone out in the process. God doesn’t tell us how to act just to make life boring, but to make life easier for us and to help us develop healthier relationships.

Being generous in general is a healthy attitude to have. God is a giver. He gave us EVERYTHING. We can bring nothing in this world with us once our short life here on earth is over, and we don’t really own anything anyway, it’s all His. Everything in this world is a resource meant to be used with His Wisdom in making the world a better place, yet we don’t often do that. The resources on earth, if anything, are used to satisfy the greed and spoiled ideals of us human beings, while damaging the world and the people around us in the process. We can only ever be generous when we have something to give, and our talents and riches (no matter how small) are given to us for exactly that purpose, to give them away. Simply having clean water to wash with in the morning makes us richer than millions of people out there. Simply knowing how to be more generous or how to make our lives more Spiritually mature means we are equipped to disciple people, save lives, and encourage talents to blossom and encourage more good in the world. A giving spirit is a successful one. We will never have success without giving, especially when that giving is hard. The real test is usually what we do when it’s not so easy to do it, and again we need more of God to have that strength that does not come naturally to us.

Luke 6:38
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Acts 20:35
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Proverbs 11:24-25
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

We Are Not Patient

Not being patient with others means we are thinking of ourselves first. It’s a selfish reaction to not want to deal with the extra effort it takes to work on something a little longer or listen a little more. We lose patience when we become fed up with trying or basically when we want something else more. I don’t know, but maybe that’s why God mentions Patience first when he talks about love? No idea, but it’s there and that what’s important, because it’s there for a very good reason, as love is not possible without it. We are not born in this world thinking of others, we are born thinking about ourselves, when we are hungry, when we are tired, when we want to play, when we want to sleep. To think of others first took examples from others and a lot of practice and hard work, and we will never master this with our own efforts alone. We need God’s word to remind us how to do it and how important it is, while giving us the strength to fight our instinct to become irritated as it’s taking up time and mental space from ourselves.

1 Corinthians 13:1
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

Romans 8:25
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

We Ignore Our Weak Spots

Is pray time before a meal a routine? A time to blurt out a couple of ‘thankful’ words as fast as possible so we can eat already, or are we really grateful for having the food in front of us and excited at the thought of God blessing us every single day with food to eat, and the thought of how loving he is and therefore how truly thankful we are before each meal time? There is a big difference. The routine approach would be a weak spot in our relationship with God, and an area that needs real attention. We might wake up in the morning with our routine devotion time and feel proud we do that most mornings, yet the sincerity it other small acts might not be there. Again we need to seek God in everything or there will be many holes/gaps for bad things to happen, for evil to take a stab at us. I have been to the gym many times and done hundred of sit ups knowing my stomach is the strong part of my body, so I’m focused on making it even stronger, yet when it comes to my legs which need even more attention than any other part of my body, I start thinking how difficult the exercises are and making excuses not to have to tackle them. If I keep expecting working on the weak parts of my body to be easy I will never work them out because it will always be difficult, and those weaknesses will just get worse and worse the older I get. The way to preserve a healthy body is to build muscle around it to protect the bones from weakening, and the weak parts are the ones that need the most protection!

Working on weaknesses protects us from serious problems now and even more in the future. It’s the same with any relationship. We can’t keep acting with confidence only in the areas we know we are good at. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to do those things. What we need to do is work on our weaknesses, so we can have a relationship without lots of gaps in, ready to fall into at any time. The type of discipline it takes to work on our weaknesses again can only comes from a resource more powerful than us, which again comes from a closer relationship with God.

Hebrews 12:11
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

There are many more things we could be working on to have stronger and healthier relationships, but I don’t want to make this post any longer than it already is. However if you notice, the way to help with each of the problems above is to develop a closer and stronger relationship with God. That’s the only way we will become spiritually mature, which is the only way to have a truly healthy relationship. If we truly love God before all else, then we will have time for him before anything else. If we want success in our lives we cannot achieve this without God first in all areas of our lives. If we truly love the people we have a relationship with, then we would truly work on our weaknesses, seeking God for the strength and wisdom it takes to do so. If we are not struggling or not suffering then we are not living life with passion, and we are not challenging ourselves, and we will never experience success. A lot of my posts I write as reminders for myself. They are by no means expert opinions as I am no expert, but deep routed feelings of things that need attention, and things I know I could do better at. I know I can be a lot more successful than I am now in every area of my life, and I know my relationship with God needs work, which is why I lack in certain areas of my life. Acknowledgment is always the first step to making a difference. We can’t work on what we don’t know or won’t admit. But we will work on what we are passionate about, what we are willing to make sacrifices for, and at the end of the day, God knows our hearts, so when we ignore things or put them aside, the only person we are fooling is ourselves. We can be better once we decide to be, and a better us is us filled with a life equipped with Gods strength and wisdom that lead to a life with supernatural breakthroughs, courage, unique opportunities, divine favor, and a renewed heart filled with love, patience, kindness, generosity and many more blessings God has waiting for us.

2 Timothy 2:22
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Jeremiah 17:10
I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.

Mathew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

And remember, that relationships will only work when you are both after the same things. Sometimes we are so busy chasing an end result that the most basic foundations weaken as a result from lack of attention. We should both share the same values in any relationship or it will never grow, and if those values are the Wisdom God shares, then we should be seeking that wisdom together ever day as the basic foundation for a solid relationship.

2 Corinthians 6:14
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?