Healthy Relationships (Part II)

Most people don’t like limits placed on them, but love and limits are necessary ingredients for healthy relationships.

Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, Proverbs 3:3

The above verse is a reminder of the right balance of mercy/grace and truth or ,in the terms of Dr. Cloud, love and limits. Notice that we are supposed to have them around our neck and to write them on our hearts. Their lack will impact our spiritual life as well as our relationships. That means it is our responsibility to never forsake love and limits and not allow another person to define them for us or take charge of our responsibility before God.

In our Christian culture, we tend to dismiss setting limits because we want to loving unconditionally. Loving unconditionally does not mean loving with no limits. God puts limits and boundaries on us. He knows we need them to grow up and take responsibility for ourselves.

God separated the heavens the earth. He set limits between land and see. He set boundaries in creation in variety of forms. Joshua placed boundaries for the Israelites when he divided the land for each tribe. If the God of universe who can provide everything for His children puts limits and guardrails around us, how much more should we exercise limits in our personal lives as well as in our relationships? Boundaries define what belongs to us and what doesn’t. This helps us to know what is our responsibility and what is not, which in turn allows to develop healthy relationships.

The truth is love and limits don’t bring enjoyment. It’s fun to be part of the crowd and have a good time even if some of the behavior is unacceptable. It also feels good to feel special and being taken care of even when there are conditions attached. However, the lack of love and limits will eventually produce a harvest of anger, resentment, and codependency. We are feeding the system and are not helping ourselves or the other person to grow up. 

So how do we develop healthy relationships?

Self Examination

In order to successfully develop healthy relationships, we first need to begin with self-examination. We should determine our needs, desires, and ambitions. These so called “needs” move us and motivate us into action, and they are also going to be the weakness that can tempt us to let go of our limits in order to reach our felt needs.

If you are looking for a person to meet your needs, desires, or ambitions, you are letting yourself be held hostage to get something from them. If you get what you are looking for, it will continue to feed the unhealthy cycle in your life. For example, if you have ambition for success or significance, it is more likely that you will not place limits around your relationship with your boss. Or if you feel lonely, there is a greater likelihood that you will put up with bad behavior and allow someone to take you for granted.

Don’t sell your soul to another for your felt needs as it will eventually bring bankruptcy to your soul. While the other person has a part to play in feeding this system, we are responsible for our limits and for not allowing others to overstep them.

Evaluate your patterns in relationships

Do you tend to look at a new relationship with rosy glasses? Are you able and willing to see the danger signs in the relationship? Do you like to get close very fast in a relationship? Do you enjoy being admired or admiring others? Are you able to continue to keep your priorities while in a good relationship with others? Do you try to be impressive or very giving in the relationship? Generally, are your relationships healthy with others? What causes them to become unhealthy? Do you fear being abandoned? These questions are supposed to help you identify your patterns and what you allow in relationships.

God’s truth and principals should supersede our feelings towards someone. We don’t just put limits when we are angry or unhappy with them. We need to set limits even when our relationship is at its best.

Respect yourself and others

True love comes with respect. We need to respect our personhood and the other person’s individuality. That means we need to see the person and the relationship for what it is not we wish it to be. We don’t try to change ourselves or manipulate a person to change. Obviously, there are changes that God desires in our lives, but we should seek those changes to please Him not to try to conform to someone’s expectation.

I will continue with this subject in the next devotional.


Image by Junah Rosales from Pixabay

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