Because of COVID-19, many of us have the opportunity to look at the health of our relationships in close quarters. How do we love others, and how are we letting others love us? What is the standard or design of love you are using? What is abuse?
You Can Only Do What You Know
People can only do what they know how to do. Until the pain in our relationship becomes too much, we learn a new truth, or a new way to do something that reveals a flaw in the way we are currently doing something, we cannot do something new. People get comfortable in what they know even when what they know is unhealthy or destructive.
Look at any unhealthy habit, addiction, or destructive choices you make every day like lying, gossiping, and living by your sinful desires. You choose these even though you have received Jesus into your heart. So how can we have Jesus in us and keep doing what we want to do in our sinful flesh? The apostle Paul tells us why.
My lofty desires to do what is good are dashed when I do the things I want to avoid. 20 So if my behavior contradicts my desires to do good, I must conclude that it’s not my true identity doing it, but the unwelcome intruder of sin hindering me from being who I really am.
Through my experience of this principle, I discover that even when I want to do good, evil is ready to sabotage me. Truly, deep within my true identity, I love to do what pleases God. But I discern another power operating in my humanity, waging a war against the moral principles of my conscience and bringing me into captivity as a prisoner to the “law” of sin—this unwelcome intruder in my humanity. What an agonizing situation I am in! So who has the power to rescue this miserable man from the unwelcome intruder of sin and death? I give all my thanks to God, for his mighty power has finally provided a way out through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! So if left to myself, the flesh is aligned with the law of sin, but now my renewed mind is fixed on and submitted to God’s righteous principles. (Rom 7:19-21, TPT)
We will always have a battle with our sinful flesh in our imperfect bodies on this broken earth. However, we are each responsible for the words, behaviors, and beliefs we choose. Many times our sinful flesh struggles, habits, or beliefs overflow into our relationships. To recognize aspects of our definition or design of love is unhealthy, we must begin by looking at ourselves.
How to Identify Abusive Traits
Many times, when marriages are struggling, they have no idea that one or both spouses are being abusive. Unfortunately, the broken love designs we all formed throughout our lives did not originate from Christ’s true love design. We grew up deeming certain unhealthy or abusive words or behaviors as “normal.” Some Christians have grown up believing that you can blow up and degrade or belittle, threaten, manipulate, throw things, or even hurt someone as long as you apologize.
The truth is all of these words and behaviors in the previous sentence fall into the definition of abuse. The Reach Beyond Domestic Violence Organization states.
“Abuse is a pattern of behavior used by one person to gain and maintain power and control over another.”
Abuse can be physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, financial, spiritual, emotional, elder, digital, cultural or identity, or any other form of control. To understand the aspects in some of these types of abuse, please go to my resources page. https://godstransforminggrace.com/abuse-and-domestic-violence-information/
Whether you are giving or taking the abuse, this is not Christ’s design of love. The truth is, the only person in a relationship we can change is ourselves. As a disciple of Christ, once we recognize there are unhealthy mindsets, beliefs, words, or actions, whether we are the victim or the abuser, we must seek Christ with all our hearts and also find help.
We Must Choose to Work with Jesus to Be Transformed
The only way to be transformed into the likeness of Christ is to work with him in complete surrender and obedience. To know his character and what it will look like to be like Jesus, we have to live in an ever-growing personal relationship with him every day.
We must spend time studying the Bible and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal what we need to work on personally with Jesus. We must spend time praying and praising God. We must ask Jesus to show us what his pure design of love looks like and how we can live in it as we become more like him.
We must also seek the professional help of a counselor, pastor, or life coach who specializes in abuse. If you don’t identify and replace unhealthy or abusive false beliefs, communication, and behaviors, you will continue to live in the cycle of abuse. If you have children, you will also be passing it on them.
Break the Cycle of Abuse
After overcoming all the trauma in my life, including three abusive marriages spanning thirty years, Jesus had led me to create a path for other people to understand why we get deceived about true love. He has shown me that Christ’s true love is founded on the first and second greatest commandments, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and the characteristics of Jesus as he lived on this earth, which includes living in healthy boundaries.
My quest to find true love in my life has led me to understand Christ’s exceptional love design. I have come to see that:
- We can only love others and let them love us from the love design we know. We can only do what we know until we learn and do something different.
- Abuse is a learned behavior and a choice.
- Abuse comes from the communication and behaviors we have learned to accept as “normal” for victims and abusers.
- Until we know about abuse, we don’t have a name for it, we excuse it, or we think we can fix it in someone.
- Many struggling couples are not aware that their words or actions are abusive. They are doing what they know.
- Until we learn Christ’s design of love, we will keep using the imperfect one we grew up forming.
- Every disciple of Christ is responsible to learn to talk, behave, and love like Christ, as we work with him and let him transform us in a growing relationship with him every day.
- Both Christian spouses are each responsible for loving one another as Christ himself because they each have Christ living in them.
- As both spouses choose to learn and to live in Christ’s design of love, abuse will be eliminated.
- When we know the characteristics and standards for Christ’s love design, we will choose a spouse that is walking the same path.
- When we find we are living with an abusive spouse, God will help us create healthy boundaries and help us decide what is best.
To end domestic and even nonromantic abuse, we must get to the core. We must let Jesus transform our broken love design into his exceptional design. Jesus calls all of his disciples to love one another AS he loved us. We can live in the fullness of Christ as we learn to love in his exceptional design.
To learn more about Christ’s exceptional love design, follow this link. https://aquestforexceptionallove.mykajabi.com/