“Why do I feel like my friends and family only call me when they want something? No matter how much I am there for them, they are never there for me when I ask for help?”
My sweet friend confided these concerns to me one day. I confessed to her that I had the same heartaches many years ago before I found God’s answer in the Bible. In the middle of my third abusive marriage, Jesus began to help me see that I didn’t know what healthy relationships looked like because I didn’t know his love design.
We Must Have Self Awareness
I realized that I could only love from the definition and design of love I had formed through my life experiences and the role models I had. All of the sources that had formed my early love design were from imperfect people. Therefore, my love design was flawed and broken.
Jesus helped me see that my problem was not that I was doing something wrong. My problem came from the fact that I was missing the blueprint of Christ’s design of love. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and I know that I’m not alone.
Put Your Oxygen Mask on First
When you travel on a plane, you are always instructed to put your oxygen mask on first before you help others. This rule is the same when you want to live in healthy, loving relationships. You can’t give other people what you don’t have. You can’t expect your relationship to be healthy when you are not.
It doesn’t matter if you grew up in a Christian home with loving parents or in an unhealthy or abusive home. When we accept Christ’s salvation, we all have the same opportunity to work with him and let him transform our minds, hearts, love, and lives. We can all learn to live in his love design and become more like Christ. To learn to live in healthy relationships, we must start with ourselves first.
Christ’s Love Design Transforms the Health of Our Relationships
Once we are living in Christ’s love design, other people will notice a change in us. In Christ’s love design, we will understand what is healthy and what is unhealthy. We will understand the difference between forgiveness, trust, reconciliation, persecution, and how to draw and live in healthy boundaries.
We won’t focus on fixing or changing the people in our lives. We will realize that only our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can do that. Instead, we will grow in our personal relationship with him and learn to walk in his ways. We will give the people in our life the freedom to choose to be in a healthy relationship with us or to remain unhealthy.
Ending the Tug-of-War
Because each person operates from their personal broken love design, all our relationships enter into a tug of war. Each person is trying to operate, to convince the other person, or to find a way to force or control the other person to operate in their broken love design. This tug-of-war is subconscious, but the symptoms are real. The apostle Paul tells us these realities in the following two passages.
Stop being mean, bad-tempered, and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. (Eph. 4:31, TLB)
You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. (Col. 3:7-10, NLT)
The only way to change our broken love design is to work with Jesus and let him transform it into his. Our transformation is a life-long commitment and journey that will bring Christ’s joy, peace, and grace into your life and relationships. Jesus will teach you his love and how to create and maintain healthy relationships in your life.
Only You Can Choose to Change with Jesus
We are always one half of any relationship. If we do not see our unhealthy aspects, and we do not learn a healthy love design to follow with Jesus, we will continue to operate from our broken love design by default. We must learn to be healthy and implement Christ’s ways to have healthy love and relationships.
When you choose to learn and be transformed by Christ, your love will have the grace and mercy to give people the opportunity to live in Christ’s love or to let them go. We must remember that there are two people in every relationship. Each one has choices to make. Every choice you make has a consequence.
In Christ’s life, he offered everyone the chance to live in his salvation and love. Not everyone chose his ways. This truth will be the same in your life, and that will cause pain and loss at times.
However, as a disciple of Jesus, we are called to be healthy in his love because we are his temple. We are the lighthouse for Christ’s light of love in this world. It’s time for Christians to be the healthy half of the relationships in their lives!
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