Monday, September 15, 2008

Romance & Relationships (Part 2)

I am continuing on the blog series "Romance & Relationships" from my friend Becky's blog. I take no claim to fame with the below nuggets of wisdom on how to approach a romantic relationship in a godly way. These nuggets below are pure gold, so take them to heart and put them into action. As a word of encouragement if you have messed up in your relationships in the past, remember that God's mercies are new every morning. Learn from your mistakes, ask God for a pure heart and seek to do what is honorable and right.

The below post from Becky has helped me think through the necessity of "confrontation" in relationships. If you are a guy or girl pursuing another I pray that you would find the courage to be honest, truthful and clear with your intentions with the opposite sex. Don't play with hearts, it only leads to unnecessary pain. Be mature and think about the others heart, before you think about yours. Love is selfless, not selfish. All the best!

Becky Hill's Blog

1) A free (honest/truthful/pure) motivation is the key
2) Confrontation is necessary and God given
3) It’s God’s hand & our heart

Okay, so if you’re just joining us on this discussion about one of the most pertinent and reoccurring topics to a young adult movement, please take the time to read the previous posts under “Amateur Sociology” and get caught up. We’re now on our second aspect: healthy confrontation. Please note that confrontation does not mean heated or hard interaction, but “communication that deliberately pressures or invites another to self-examine some aspect of behaviour in which there is a discrepancy between self-reported and observed behaviour.”

There is an innate fear in every human heart to embrace that which is painful–it is entirely contrary to our natural instincts. Yet, all relationships are made firm through conflict, whether that be external or internal. I once learned from a very wise man that there are three stages to relationship: discovery, conflict, and partnership. This applies to all kinds of relationships, whether they be familial, friendships, work-related, romantic, or whatever else there is. However, in our context I will examine this principle with a romantic lens.

When you first meet someone you’re interested in (please refer to #1 for more on this), you have a long period of time that you get to discover who they are. This season is crucial for a healthy relationship to come forth, and can be very short or very long, depending on how much time and in what kind of contexts you’re getting to know the person. In this stage, you are simply becoming fascinated with the interests, mannerisms, beliefs, life-processes, etc of the other and may be quite oblivious to anything negative.

This will not and should not last forever. There will inevitably come a point at which there is a breakdown in communication or a misunderstanding or a hard situation that brings in the element of pain into one or both hearts. At this point, the one experiencing the pain has two options–either he/she can choose to leave the issue to work itself out (which is not likely to happen, due to the fact that the only way people can work things out is when they are aware there’s a problem) or bring up the matter in a non-accusatory way to walk through the process of making the relationship grow. The point is, conflict does not have to be something you dread if you learn to walk through it together–it is acutally a much freer way to live if you know that the person you are pursuing a relationship with is going to tell you when there’s a problem.

Let me make this more tangible… Let’s say that you are hanging out with someone of the opposite sex in a consistent and extended way, even possibly sharing with them things that are quite near to your heart. You may realize that you are moving beyond the state of your normal friendships, yet you aren’t sure whether they are actually interested in you as more than a friend. At this point, the issue must be addressed. It is not wise or integrous to continue to advance in intimacy without the safety and boundaries of commitment. As a woman, if you realize you’re at this point, you either need to ask for definition/intention or (if you do not want to advance into a romantic relationship) intentionally withdraw to whatever degree necessary. For guys, you have to man-up at this point and actually clarify the relationship. Whether the clarification is that you are not interested in pursuing a relationship (at which point there would be pain for her and an intentional change of interaction) or that you desire to move forward into a committal relationship (which means that you’re going to have to be willing to be vulnerable to the option that she would say ‘no’), it must be walked out.

But what if you (man or woman) are getting to know someone and find that you’re very interested in having a dating relationship with them, yet you are unsure if you could see yourself marrying them? This should not keep you from doing the aforementioned steps. If a dating relationship comes forth, you must be sure that you let that person know on the front-end the hesitation you’re feeling (though it may be an awkward damper to excited romantic notions). If the cards are laid on the table as the commitment is made, it is much easier to walk things out in reality together. That way, you are not second-guessing yourself nor trying to deny the true issues of your heart that need to be dealt with.

If you’re in a dating relationship, there are so many areas of brokenness that have to be overcome, since we are broken people. I just want to name a few major ones that can really determine the way things turn out (not whether you’ll ‘make it’ or not, but whether it is healthy or not). Physical and emotional boundaries are something that must be addressed and upheld; if you are feeling your boundaries violated it is imperative that you speak out against it, for you will not be able to respect or trust the other person otherwise. Many times, they will not even know that you’re not comfortable with certain things because people have different concepts of what is and isn’t okay to talk about or do. They may or my not be completely innocent in it and it may be very awkward or embarrassing to address, but you must if you desire to move forward in your heart in a healthy manner. On the other side of things, you may feel as though the person is not even pursuing an increase of intimacy with you on those levels and that they simply don’t care, but likely this is not the case. Again, you must talk to the person, letting them know that you do not feel engaged at the level you desire and giving them real tools to move forward. All of this needs to be under the counsel and eyes of the Lord as well as godly friends who can give you sound wisdom.

Our last example would be if you’re in a dating/courting relationship and you realize that it is not the best thing for both of you to move forward into marriage. The questions of how to know this are far bigger and more subjective than can be addressed in this little post, but if that person is not the ultimate choice in your eyes (there’s no one you would rather be with) it is not godly to continue growing closer and more committed. In this situation, you must have the courage to end the relationship. It actually takes strength and much wisdom from the Lord to know how and when to do this and thus prayer is vital. It will hurt you both to follow-through with the breakup, but in the end you both will be very grateful. The other option is dishonorable to both parties, for to string someone along for the sake of avoiding pain is only going to knit your hearts deeper and deeper until the final break is worse than the initial, or until you follow-through with marrying someone that you’re not madly and incandescently in love with.

As we take this journey into relationship with other broken people, it is so crucial that we accept confrontation as a gift instead of a curse, for without it we would not have to grow in humility or lean on the Lord for wisdom and strength. Instead of shying away from issues, we must develop the skill and love to walk through them under the leadership o
f the Lord.

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4 Comments:

At 9/15/2008 11:44:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So are you going to pursue anyone?? Well...it could be one of da 4,279.. ahahahah! Bless you!

 
At 9/15/2008 11:57:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Becky Hill--you are a VERY good writer.... I kept reading and rereading your sentence structures because I couldn't believe how well your words are put together! I think you have a GIFT. :-)
Also, I had to feel some affection for your use of the word "incandescently." :-) I totally enjoyed that!

Anyway, I agree with this post. I like that this can all be done within the normal context of a relationship and does not have to be formulated or fit some kind of cookie cutter mold, etc...

Also, I believe pain is unavoidable. I don't think it should be taken lightly, but there is always going to be pain. It is part of our depth and emotion through which we identify with the heart of God and others in various ways. Pain, in general cannot and should not be avoided--but moved through. I also agree that we should not cause pain on purpose....

I love that you wrote this post! This is good stuff. I believe you are divinely inspired! It is great to be guided by the Spirit and by truth! This post is full of great things! Thanks for taking the time to share your amazingly constructed, well thought out thoughts! ;-)

~SW

 
At 9/16/2008 02:50:00 AM , Anonymous Some1 said...

Great Post...hope there is more to come concerning this topic :)

GBU

 
At 9/17/2008 06:26:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you , Becky!
Adonai loves you and so do I!
Greatest Blessings from Zion,
Baseman

 

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