Relationships can be our greatest teachers. They reveal our fears, our desires, our strengths and our flaws. Nobody comes into a relationship perfect; few relationships are pain-free. But there are core killers of healthy relationships; these three mentalities work directly against intimacy, loving connection, healing and peace. When we are committed to our own development and change, we minimize the pain we inflict upon others and ourselves.
Some people forfeit love for pride—poor trade. Pride demands to be heard! Humility listens. PRIDE seeks to be right! Humility seeks peace. A prideful person is skilled at finding fault in others, but typically blind to their own transgressions. Pride is exhausting. Pride does not seek to understand; pride shouts to be understood! Many years ago, when I was at the peak of pain in my marriage, one of my mentors gave me a book simply entitled: “Humility.” While reading this little book, I felt as if my soul was being ripped to pieces. I was profoundly convicted in my heart. I had no idea how deeply my life was rooted in pride. My pride held me in a mental prison–vacillating between self-contempt and self-exaltation. Pride kept me in bondage to low- level living and thinking. Breaking the chains of pride in our hearts is the first step towards healing and peace in our relationships.
Relationships can grow us up. Each person comes into the relationship with some immaturity–their own personal style of relating. This relationship style is usually an accumulation of our upbringing and beliefs we have picked up along the way. Maturity requires us to break out of our old, comfortable patterns of coping and protecting ourselves. It invites us to step outside of ourselves to expand our understanding of others. Personal growth does not always feel good– nor do the situations or challenges within our relationships that require us to grow. The best relationships are when both people are committed to growth and change. But if you feel all alone in the maturing process, it’s OK. One mature person in a relationship has great influence on the other. We spend more money when we are with our friends who like to shop; we drink more with friends who like to drink. Adults are most certainly influenced by their peers and environments. Your personal maturity will shine the light on your mate’s immaturity and provide a “call to action” for them to grow up.
One of my mentors used to say: “The opposite of love is not hate, it is self-centeredness.” We live in a “meet my needs” culture. Love gives. Selfishness takes. Love increases and expands life. Selfishness limits and controls life. When the world revolves around us, it’s a very small world indeed. A relationship is a team sport. Players who are only concerned with their individual needs will eventually hurt themselves and the team.
“Marriage takes your whole heart; selfish people can’t pull it off.” — Helen Hunt
For years I was a selfish wife. I believed my husband’s role was to satisfy my needs and make me happy. It took many years for me to realize that it was not another person’s sole role or function in life to make me happy. It takes great maturity to stop being a victim and take responsibility for our personal happiness. Pride, immaturity and selfishness will kill our relationships; they will rob us of peace, joy and the abundant life we desire.
Allowing God’s healing love into our hearts is the first step in redemption. Whether our relationships last forever or fall apart, we are on this journey with ourselves for the rest of our lives. I applaud your heart and the openness of your spirit; it takes courage to change. Love is our guide towards new life and restored hearts.
I am with you on this journey towards personal growth, new life, wisdom and healthier relationships.
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