Tag: relationships

How to Be Selfish

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Being selfless is completely over-rated. There shouldn’t be the expectation of you putting in all that hard work! Relationships should involve someone giving you complete happiness and endless joy. Make sure you get everything you deserve by following these simple steps.

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The Comfort of Bitterness

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Do you enjoy your bitterness? I know your knee just jerked and you replied, “No,” but I don’t think you thought about your answer hard enough. If we despised our bitterness, we would do everything we could to rid ourselves of it. But sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, we keep it nearby and on hand with no intentions of releasing it. The reasons for this aren’t valid, but they’re understandable.

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The Blame Game

point2Blame came into humanity early. The first recorded blame shift is in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve chose sin, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the snake. (Gen 3) We shouldn’t be surprised that blame finds its way into our every day lives. We can’t deny that we have pointed our fingers at others, especially at those who have wounded us. Whether or not we are justified in our accusations is irrelevant. Blame is completely useless.

Blaming Doesn’t Solve the Problem
Even if the blame has been shifted, the issue at hand still remains. The problem you face will not disappear because you have pointed your finger at someone else. Blaming your parents for your baggage won’t set you free. Blaming your spouse for your misery won’t make you happy. Blaming your kids for your stress won’t bring you peace.

Although we cannot deny that the poor decisions of others have affected us, holding onto the idea that someone else is responsible for the struggle inside yourself will never bring resolve. Blaming never solves a problem, it simply sustains it. It creates a larger trench between the problem and the solution. Nothing is solved when no one takes on their own responsibility. Even bystanders hurt in the act have a responsibility to face.

Blame Doesn’t Free You From Responsibility
Every person is responsible for their own actions, and that includes reactions. Bitterness is a reaction. Hatred is a reaction. Refusing to move forward is a reaction. All three of these reactions do not manipulate the other party to repent, they instead only torture us to our grave. Saint Augustine said, “Resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies.” Blame is ultimately resentment, and resentment is poison to our souls.

When we have been mistreated, when we have been led astray, when our expectations have been unfulfilled, we have the responsibility of choosing our next steps. It is our responsibility to forgive. It is our responsibility to speak up in love. It is our responsibility to move on and heal. No one else can do these things for us, no matter how much blame we put on them.

Blame Does Not Deepen Relationships
If your goal in life is to never have deep relationships, blaming others is a great way to reach that goal. A pointed finger keeps everyone at arm’s length. The blame you hold against your spouse, your kids, or your parents will destroy your relationship, and ruin any chance of deep intimacy.

Not all relationships should be deepened. There are some relationships that need boundaries, and some relationships that need to be completely severed. But realize that the blame you hold onto will create a wall between you and the person on the other side of your pointed finger. If this is a person you love and long to be closer to, you will need to let go of your resentment.

When Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the snake, no one escaped the consequences. Regardless of who was at fault, every person involved felt the impact and was held responsible for their actions. Blame will never give us the freedom we desire, only forgiveness will. When we let go of the blame, we can solve the problem at hand, move forward, and strengthen our broken relationships.

What Business Would You Start With Your Sweetheart?

Happy Labor Day!pollbusiness1

Life involves a lot of hard work. It’s not that work is a bad thing – in fact, work is a blessing. God created Adam to work in the Garden of Eden before sin came into the world. On top of that, God also created Eve to be Adam’s helper. Both men and women were designed to work.

Adam and Eve were work partners. They ran the Garden together. So the question this week is, if you had the opportunity, what kind of business would you like to start with your spouse? (Or future spouse?)

Would you want to start a restaurant together? Would you want to start a non-profit organization together? Would you want to run a little mom and pop shop? What kind of work would you like to do with your spouse someday?

Whether or not you start a business together, marriage itself is work and it involves team effort. Satan hates marriage because it represents God’s love for us. Therefore, marriage will always be under attack. It will take a lot of work between you and your spouse to keep enemies from coming and destroying your relationship. Your spouse and you are partners, you are warriors against spiritual forces. Lean on the Lord and work at protecting, restoring, and growing your marriage.

Would You Ever Date a Celebrity?

redcarpetFor those of you who missed it, Mondays are now the new home of White Venus’s weekly poll!

So, here is this week’s poll question: Would you ever date a celebrity? Which one?

There are a couple things to take in consideration with celebrity dating: one is privacy, the other is pressure. If you date a celebrity, you can basically kiss a so called “private life” goodbye. (Although a follow up question to that would be, ‘should Christians have “private lives?”‘) The second consideration is pressure. If you date a celebrity there is sure to be some painful feedback from fans and media. Could you handle that?

Most of us will never date a celebrity, but every relationship is subjected to the pressures of this life. Famous or not, we have to decide what our priorities are, and whether or not our relationships are a proper example of Biblical love. We may not be in the world’s spotlight, but there is always someone watching. You may not be famous, but a relationship seen by a few is just as important as a relationship seen by all.

My answer? I would consider dating a celebrity musician. I enjoy music and I wouldn’t mind being on a concert production staff. As long as he loves Jesus, I’m good. If I had my pick I’d choose Kyuhyun from Super Junior – which is a Korean group 95% of you have never heard of. He doesn’t speak English though, which takes the idea of “relationship communication problems” to a whole other level.

So answer in the comments: Would you ever date a celebrity? Which one?

Love Suffers Long

grief2“Love suffers long…” -1 Corinthians 13:4

Many translations change this verse to say “love is patient,” but I prefer leave in the bit about suffering. When we think about the word patience, we often think of not exploding at someone who annoys us, or keeping a cool temper when someone speaks harshly towards us. It is true that those things are important in loving others, but there is much more to patience than that.

Suffering happens in marriage. Although I am not married, I cannot think of one marriage I have encountered that has not gone through a trial; whether it is recovering from adultery, facing a crippling disease, or living with an unbelieving spouse. It is much easier to throw in the towel and walk away than it is to put up with long-term suffering. Our limited logic tells us that love should be easy, and if it isn’t – if any form of suffering is involved – we should bail.

Praise God that His love is not like that! How our Lord suffers in the name the love! How much does He suffer when you fail to acknowledge who He is? How much does He suffer while you forget Him and chase your idols? How much does He suffer when you bitterly accuse and reject Him? The cross was not the only place Jesus endured suffering. He suffered at the hands of Pharisees, He suffered at the hand of mockers, and He suffers when we reject the love He offers to us. Our Lord knows what it’s like to suffer long more than anyone who has ever lived.  And being that He existed before time began, He also has suffered the longest of any of us.

Love is not failing to establish boundaries to protect ourselves, nor is it enabling someone so that they never face the consequences of their actions. But this world is utterly broken, and therefore, earthly love involves suffering. The test is loving in spite of suffering. Although we are not called to torture ourselves, we are called to love those who treat us badly (Luke 6:27-36). Sometimes that’s from a distance, sometimes that’s right where we’re standing. We must pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44), forgive those who have hurt us (Colossians 3:13), and serving our spouses despite their selfishness because it pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:21). Love suffers long, but the Lord gives us strength. All we have to do is ask for it – He knows exactly how much strength we need and will provide it to us to love others just as He has loved us.

Hooked on a Feeling

hook3Have you ever woken up in a bad mood for no apparent reason? Have you ever became angry and frustrated when only minutes beforehand you were enjoying everything about life?

Feelings are strange creatures. At times they are appropriate and sensible, at other times they are irrational and ill-founded. They can come in with the wind and then leave with it, or they can hover in the heart beyond their welcome. They can lead us into dark places just as easily as they lead us into good ones.

Don’t get me wrong – feelings are good things. They are an essential part of enjoying life. The problem is that we let them control us. Our feelings dictate our actions. We make bad decisions because our feelings blind us from good ones.

The largest feeling we allow to blind us is love. This can be seen in the man or woman who leaves their spouse saying, “We don’t love each other anymore.” It is seen in the man or woman who stays in an unhealthy dating relationship because they “love them.” Love has been watered down to a good excuse; a reason for executing any action we please whether it is right or wrong, loyal or disloyal, healthy or addicting. We let this “love” control us. We let it dictate us. And sometimes, we even let it destroy us.

The Problem With “Love”

“Love” is a word we don’t define correctly. When we think of the word “love” we think of that feeling we get when we see a member of the opposite sex holding a cute baby, or when we have a fond memory of our parents, or when we see a picture of a pile of grammatically incorrect kittens. But none of these feelings are love. They’re good feelings, but they’re not love.

The root of the problem is limited vocabulary. Although there are many words for adoring something or someone, the default word we go to in the English language is “love.” Because it’s our default word, its definition becomes vague. If you say you love football and then you turn to me and tell me you love me, how do I translate it? Do you love football and me with the same intensity? Do you have one type of love for football and another type of love for me? And most importantly, does your idea of “love” match up with mine?

We say “I love you” when we feel affectionate towards something or someone. And since that seems universally acceptable, we decide that love is a feeling. Then we decide that our romantic relationships are supposed to be built on this feeling. So in our logic we decide that if the feeling doesn’t exist then the relationship doesn’t need to either. The result? Incredibly messy, painful, and complicated relationships.

Built on Love

So should relationships really be based on love? Not this kind of love. Not the kind of love that feels strong one day and disappears with the next. That sort of love is a fickle beast. There is nothing constant or solid about it.

So what, then, is the real definition of love? What love is solid and created to be built upon?

Take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Here we find what love really looks like

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (NKJV)

As you can see by this passage, love is not intended to be rooted in feelings. Love is action taken despite feelings. We should base all relationships on love, but not on the type of “love” rooted in feelings; relationships should be built on the kind of love that exists when feelings don’t.

Real love involves commitment, loyalty, and hard work. Love goes beyond happy feelings, and pours into serving someone else even when affectionate feelings are absent. Love is what remains when infatuation has ebbed.

Does this mean that all dating relationships are healthy, solid relationships if they are built on the foundation of proper love? No. Just as there are those who leave a relationship wrongly because of feelings, there are those who stay in a relationship wrongly because of feelings.

The foundation for all relationships should be the type of love shown in 1 Corinthians 13, but a dating relationship needs a few extra considerations.

Good Foundations

Romantic relationships heading towards marriage need to mix more elements into their foundation to make them sturdy enough for marriage. Dating relationships should be founded on:

Mutual beliefs – Your beliefs are the foundation of who you are and how you live your life. You can get along well with people of opposite religions and beliefs, and you can even have good chemistry with them, but that doesn’t mean you will do well as life partners. The idea of marriage is to become one unit; that is an incredibly challenging task if you oppose one another spiritually. Don’t enter into a relationship thinking that maybe later they will have a change in heart. No relationship should be based on “maybe later.”

Mutual relationship views – There is bound to be heartbreak when one person is dating with the intention of marriage while the other is simply playing the field. It is tempting to think that you can change someone’s mind when it comes to how they view relationships, but don’t place your bet on it. Find someone who has the same level of commitment as you do.

Mutual direction – If your greatest desire is to settle down and have six kids in the middle of suburbia, and your sweetheart’s goal in life is to be a missionary in the most dangerous parts of Africa, one of you is going to end up being miserable. Everyone has a calling on his or her life and it’s important to consider that when dating someone. This may not be deal breaker; if your callings don’t line up completely that doesn’t mean your relationship will fail. But do consider what sacrifices have to be made if your callings are in separate directions, and what roadblocks are going to appear if your callings oppose each other. You want someone you can walk towards a common goal with.

With feelings as fickle as they are, they should not be the main determiner of whether or not to stay in a relationship. We should not let our feelings control us. Although we should not deny or undermine our feelings, we should found our relationships on something stronger: a real love that exists when feelings don’t, and wisdom to realize when our feelings are blinding us from making the right decisions.

Lurking Darkness

darkheartGrowing up, I always thought I would enter into marriage as easily as princesses in fairy tales did. It seemed like a simple enough formula:

Step 1 – Don’t date any guy other than the one you will spend the rest of your life with
Step 2 – You’ll know “the one” when you meet him
Step 3 – Spend the rest of your life with that person

So you can imagine my dismay when I entered adulthood and found a trail of broken relationships behind me. Not only was my fairytale formula not as simple as I had anticipated, but now I had the extra challenge of cleaning up all the pain, confusion, and heartache that came with those failed relationships.

And I still struggle with the feelings my past has left me with. There are many times I have asked God, “Why did I have to go through all that heartbreak in the first place? What was the purpose?”

After a long time of asking, my questions received a reply: Your broken relationships show the darkest parts of your heart better than anything else.

That’s the truth, isn’t it? Our attitude towards people in our past shows hidden darkness that lurks in our hearts. Our disdain for our ex shows our bitterness. Losing our crush to someone else shows our envy. Anger towards someone for what they did years ago shows our unforgiving nature.

Past pains should not be denied or glossed over; our feelings need to be addressed, and sometimes it can take a very long time to mend. But for a moment, consider: what do your broken relationships reveal about you? Does bitterness, anger, or envy lurk within you? Are you trying to hold onto the past or are you looking forward to the future? Have you truly forgiven those who have hurt you?

We cannot change the past, but we can change our perspective on it. Failed relationships are, unfortunately, part of this life despite whatever relationship formula you have come up with. We cannot change what others have done; we cannot force them to apologize or take responsibility for their actions. But we can identify the darkness in ourselves and receive God’s help in cleansing us of our imperfections. We have to face the darkness the past shows in us, or else the future will always be tainted by our bitterness, and we will end up holding ourselves back from finding real joy in the present.

Verses to Consider:
Ephesians 4:31-32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Philippians 3:12-13 (emphasis mine)
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…

Psalm 26:2
Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.