#9 IN MY CHAPTER-BY-CHAPTER JOURNEY THROUGH ROBERT MCGEE’S BEST-SELLING BOOK, THE SEARCH FOR SIGNIFICANCE.
Instead of being refreshed by the fruit of God’s love, if we have been deeply wounded, we may recoil from it, believing that we are unlovable. We may be fearful of reaching out and being hurt again. Whatever the cause, the result is withdrawal from the very idea of being loved and accepted.
Those who have received poor parental modeling need new models — loving Christian friends to experience the love and grace of the God. Through His body of believers, God often provides us with models of His love so that our perception of His character can be slowly reshaped into one that is more accurate, resulting in healthier relationship with Him. Then our deep emotional, spiritual, and relational wounds can begin to heal, and we can more fully experience God’s unconditional love.
Some of us are already involved in strong relationships with people who are understanding and patient with us. Some of us haven’t yet been able to cultivate relationships like these, and we are still looking. If you have tried to cultivate healthy relationships but haven’t found any yet, don’t give up! The Lord wants all of us to be in an environment where we can experience more of His love through our relationships with other believers.
Healthy Versus Unhealthy Relationships
Because many of us are so vulnerable when we begin allowing ourselves to experience the pain that usually accompanies growth, it is wise to have a basic understanding of healthy and unhealthy relationships. God’s desire is that our relationships with others will enable us to know Him more fully. His work through others is, in part, to serve as a channel by which we can better understand His divine love and acceptance of us. Sadly, we are all prone to miss His message and mistake His messenger(s) as the source of our fulfillment. When this misperception is carried to an extreme, we can fall into emotional dependency, believing the ongoing presence and nurturing of another is necessary for personal security.
Characteristics of Healthy Relationships
- Healthy relationships are turned outward rather than inward.
- Healthy relationships encourage individuality rather than conformity.
- Healthy relationships are concerned with independence rather than emotional dependence.
- Healthy relationships point one’s focus to the Lord and pleasing Him rather than toward the relationships and pleasing one another
Characteristics of Unhealthy Relationships
- One experiences frequent jealousy, possessiveness, and a desire for exclusivity, viewing other people as a threat to the relationship.
- One prefers to spend time alone with this person and becomes frustrated when this cannot happen.
- One becomes irrationally angry or depressed when the other person withdraws, even slightly.
- One loses interest in all relationships other than this one.
- One experiences romantic and sexual feelings leading to fantasy about the other person.
- One becomes preoccupied by the other person’s appearance, personality, problems, and interests.
- One is unwilling to make short- or long-range plans that do not include the other person.
- One is unable to see the other person’s faults realistically.
- One becomes defensive about the relationship when asked.
- One displays physical affection beyond what is appropriate for this type of relationship.
- One refers frequently to the other person in conversation.
- One may feel responsible to “speak for” the other person.
- One exhibits an intimacy and familiarity with the other person that causes others to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed in their presence.
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