In a world where relationships can be as challenging as they are rewarding, we are called to love others as Jesus loves us (John 15:12). Join us as we explore the most important relationship in your life, five transformative truths about relationships, the importance of a Biblical community, the call to love without judgment, and the pursuit of a healthy marriage and relationships.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Genesis 2:18 ESV
For a being that was designed for relationships, they can be excruciatingly hard!
As a young and newly married woman, I thought my husband could do no wrong. I, too, was also put on a pedestal so tall I was at risk of altitude sickness. But the reality is that no one is perfect, least of all me. And marriage is a lot harder than a Hallmark movie leads you to believe.
I remember coming home from work one day and whipping up a homemade dinner, which, mind you, is a rare occurrence in my home, so I was feeling pretty Proverbs 31 kind of excellent. Something sparked a debate about where the garlic salt should be stored, and suddenly we were having a knock-down drag-out fight about garlic salt. Later, my wise counselor looked at me and said, “Stef, it’s not about the garlic salt. It never is.”
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
We are called to love others as Jesus loves us (sacrificially). We are called to turn the other cheek. The Bible says not to judge and to forgive others.
And yet, sometimes, the hardest person to practice this on is the one sleeping in our bed next to us.
Relationships are hard work. And that is exactly why first loving the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (Deuteronomy 6:5) is so important.
I want to share some relationship truths I have learned while exploring God’s word. Truths that I wish I had learned years ago.
5 Truths about Relationships
1) God comes first.
The very most important relationship in your life is your one with the Lord. Investing in your relationship with God will improve all the relationships in your life. Sometimes the harder pill to swallow is that improving may mean removing, even if only temporarily. And that is why this can feel scary. My best advice for you as you set off on this journey is to:
Dig into Scripture every single day. I have a friend who no longer attends church because she feels burned by a few people, and my response to her was, “Have you read the Bible?” I didn’t ask her in a judgmental way. I share this from the perspective that learning God’s Word reveals truth you can lean on. It allows us the confidence to have our faith in God, not in the opinions of others.
This is so important to me that Women, Worship and Work sponsors a whole community of women dedicated to digging into the Word together. You can learn more about that, and get involved yourself, here.
Go to God in prayer. When I was first learning to do this, it felt really hard. What are the right words to say? How do I not sound scripted? Jesus gives us a great prayer in Scripture that we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” You can check that out here, but I want to encourage you to pray conversationally. When I’m cooking, driving, or on a run, I just strike up a chat with God. He doesn’t expect it to be fancy, friend. I love to say that God loves first-draft emails. Give Him what you’ve got, even if it is imperfect. He’ll just be happy to hear from you. And Magic happens when He speaks back!
Join a local church. I get that this can be scary. And it can also be lonely if you happen to be the only one in your family interested in attending. That said, God needs your heart so you can be used to impact those around you. If you are feeling the nudge, go to church as you are, even if that is alone, or toting three kids, a hubby, and there is bickering in the car as you park. Over time, you will settle in. Ask God for help and discernment as you find a body of believers to plug into.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV
2) We are made for community.
We are made to do life with people. (See Hebrews 10:24-25 and Genesis 2:18 from the beginning of this post)
The name of the game isn’t quantity, it’s quality.
We are called to have a group of like-minded Christians in our lives. Real talk: for much of my life I had “believer friends” at church, and then spent the rest of my week compartmentalizing my relationships. I had work friends, family, neighbors, and then some church friends. But having a circle of believers matters in all areas of our lives. Believers will encourage you, give Biblical guidance, and offer Biblical accountability. It took some time, but now most of my conversations weave in and out of God, truth, family, and work. It isn’t separated like it used to be, and I believe that is what God intended
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Matthew 7:1-2 NIV
3) Be a safe place for people to be themselves.
It is not our place to judge. (And while we’re at it, you shouldn’t compare yourselves to others, either.) Judging others is baked into our culture. We have entire news outlets dedicated to this. But as Christians, we have a higher calling: We are called to love, not judge.
A sad fact of the church today is that there are many who (wrongly) judge others. I have heard more stories about this than I can count. There is a Biblical way to hold other believers accountable, but it should always be done in love. And there is no better way to miss the chance to bring a non-believer into God’s love than to act more like a Pharisee (legalistic and “judgey”) than Jesus (loving, but firmly rooted in truth).
I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but while we’re talking about relationships… If you’ve gone through a divorce, that does not make you “less Christian.” God still loves you, and so should other believers.
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
4) You can’t control the actions of others.
So my advice is, don’t nag. Alright, just to get back to the stereotypical “significant other” type of relationship… nagging your spouse legitimately does not help, and neither does complaining to your friends. It doesn’t help to nag an employee or your kid either.
Nagging doesn’t work, but prayer does. Knowing and practicing your boundaries does, as well.
I heard a great sermon on this recently where the pastor said, “wives, you make a really terrible Holy Spirit.”
Do you know what one of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is? To convict us when we’re sinning. Ladies, that is literally the Holy Spirit’s job, not ours.
When my friend is tempted to nag (because we all are!), she replaces the prayer with: “Lord, I don’t like how this situation made me feel. Help me not to nag. Please convict [names person and behavior] and I want to own any fault I have in this situation. Please reveal to me my hand in this and show me how I can be better.”
It is amazing what detaching our responsibility from another’s actions will do for peace.
Simple. Comforting. Powerful.
5) You deserve to be in healthy relationships.
You deserve to be in a healthy marriage, and so does your husband.
I’m proud to tell you that I have spent many hours in counseling. I implore you to see a counselor with or without your man. When YOU invest in YOU, everybody wins. Counseling is a God-given gift to help us become better versions of ourselves.
If you cannot show up as your whole self or if you are not stepping into your full potential, your family is missing the best of you. Though many times we try to control relationships with others, there is actually one person God has given you complete authority over, and that is the person who has your name, YOU. So take care of YOU well my friend.
As we all know, relationships are hard work. Luckily, today we have the benefit of having so many great resources to turn to when we want to put in the work to improve the relationships in our lives. This could be our relationships with our spouse, our friends, our family, our kids, or maybe most importantly, even ourselves. I’ve compiled a list of resources that have really helped me, and I want to share with you! These are good resources for those in love, those in pain, and those needing deeper friendships in general.
You can snag that, for free, below.
Our favorite resources from experts on relationships: books, quizzes, and tips. Yours, for FREE.