Many of us have had different experiences when it comes to relationships, varying from the good, the bad and the downright ugly. The latter two can push us towards shying away from people, which is akin to throwing out the baby with the dirty bath water. Personally, I do not believe this is God’s best for us. God is part of the Holy Trinity. Jesus, when on earth, was frequently in the company of people ranging from His disciples, ‘sinners’ and everyone else in between, though He interacted with them differently (a lesson in itself). So there is an argument for surrounding ourselves with others. Plus, God has this knack of touching our lives through people. Hence, separate yourself from others, and you stand to do yourself a disservice on many fronts.
So how does one forge healthy relationships – especially after some tricky ones? The answer to this has been one which I have discussed in great detail in my latest book, Quit Hiding, Start Living! How Women Can Free Themselves From Past Hurts. As so many of us are in a quandary about relationships, this will be one of our focal points in the forthcoming Overcoming Emotional Baggage Women’s Conference.
Here are some of my thoughts to support you.
Guard your heart
This is not just a biblical cliché, but one we must proactively do. After years of working with people struggling to move on after hurtful relationships, a simple truth I have come to embrace is that everyone cannot AND should not be in an intimate relationship with you. It’s like saying you bare your heart to all your 500+ Facebook ‘friends’. That, my friend, is not a wise move. Plus, you open yourself up to hurt in some shape or form.
I came to this conclusion after studying the life of Jesus Christ. He had twelve disciples, and the three closest to Him were Peter, James and John. On a few occasions, when intimacy was required, He called on the trusted three. This is a great model for us, and I encourage you to consider this. Having a wider network of ‘friends’ and associates is great, but are they really the best to bare your soul to? Can they all carry you when life happens? Moreover, how does one manage all those relationships?
So, just as you have a lock on your front door that allows friends/family in, and keeps burglars out, you will need to do the same with your heart. Part of this includes putting boundaries in place. Boundaries are rules you put in place to let people know what is or is not acceptable to you, along with the possible consequences. If someone starts taking your relationship for granted, and/or abusing you, your time, money, assets, body, etc, it’s time for your boundaries to kick in.
Dealing with hurtful people
This includes people who have hurt you in the past, and/or who continually do so. As with these situations, the Bible compels us to always forgive. Following that, in my opinion, I don’t believe we are compelled to go back into an intimate relationship just to prove we have forgiven them, or because we feel pressured to do so. Each case should be considered with wise, godly counsel. What matters most is that your heart is free from unforgiveness, and that you move on according to how you feel God is leading you to.
It is also worth bearing in mind that ‘hurt people, hurt people’! People are at different stages of their personal growth and journey. And, at times, the best thing we could do for them is allow them to grow, and place them in God’s hands whilst we continue our journey – pretty much as the Good Samaritan did. Don’t hang around when God has not told you to, or even try and fix them. That’s God’s job!
Don’t override your instincts
Instincts are our inbuilt, sensing mechanism or antenna that God has graciously blessed us with. You can also call it the Holy Spirit residing on the inside of you. When switched to ‘on’ mode, through your personal relationship with Father, you find you are able to pick up more than what your physical eye sees. As we tend to judge a book by its cover, we are susceptible to making the wrong decisions and bad choices when it comes to relationships. The simple fact is that our judgment can get cloudy. And so, when you sense an internal ‘check’, it alerts you to the fact that something is indeed wrong. At this point, you would do well to pause, in the least, to decipher what God may want to communicate to you. Whatever you do, don’t just forge ahead overriding your instincts. By the way, this applies to all types of relationships.
In closing, I would like to encourage you to keep an eye on your motives for embarking/holding on to a relationship. And you would do well to know when to quit, too. Remember that a piece of straw that gets too close to the fire will get burned!
For more details of her ministry, visit www.gladysf.com or call 0870 750 1969. The Overcoming Emotional Baggage Conference takes place on 18 November. Visit www.overcomingemotionalbaggage.com for more details.