Building Healthier Relationships

Hang my locket around your neck; wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing - it sweeps everything before it. Song of Solomon 8:6 Msg

My journey into the mystery of love B.C. (Before Christ) was fraught with rejection, repeated failure, pain, nagging doubts, confusion, dashed hopes, withdrawal, shattered dreams and broken relationships. I even at times explored in my mind the so-called benefits of the life of a recluse; which my twin brother actually chose.

I made a multitude of mistakes while attempting to re-build significant and lasting relationships. At that point, enduring joy and peace were not on my relational radar! Dys-function and Dys-grace were a more common theme in my relational reality. Patient trial and error became non-negotiable in my journey toward hope-filled, healthier relationships.

But as the mystery of the love discovered in Christ has been unveiled within my inquisitive soul, I have taken the bait again and encountered myself risking and unmasking! Slowly and surely, the rewards of function and grace have provided impetus for timid, albeit safer forward motion relationally. Over the course of forty plus years I am experiencing more and more relational success.

While growing relationally; I have also discovered a dark part of me (among many) with an inordinate concern for approval. And there I met a foe by the name of worry.

A lot of mental energy went into worrying about other peoples' opinions. The most pointless opinion I was inordinately concerned about was what they thought of ME. This bred all sorts of stuff--from minor annoyances right through to suicide. Along the way it diminishes and even kills peace, friendships, enjoyment, confidence, families, creativity and a thousand other things. Being "popular" didn't and doesn't usually produce good results either.

The world of marketing relies on human insecurities and fosters them in every possible way, as if we can somehow get others to like us, or at least stop not liking us, by using their products. This sows corruption and lies. It produces a crop of a skewed self-image.

"First of all, you have to keep unmasking the world about you for what it is: manipulative, controlling, power-hungry, and, in the long run, destructive.

The world tells you many lies about who you are, and you simply have to be realistic enough to remind yourself of this.

Every time you feel hurt, offended, or rejected, you have to dare to say to yourself: 'These feelings, strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am a chosen child of God, precious in God's eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting belief." ~Henri J.M. Nouwen

The gospel of Jesus says you are highly-regarded, honored, and not merely acceptable but accepted in the Beloved! Your uniqueness is an asset not something to be ashamed of, you have been designed and known by God forever, in the best possible way. His family is your family, he is not waiting for you to do or become anything before His total commitment and love kicks in.

"It may seem only human to want people to like you, but He has brought us beyond being "only human" into the realm of His eternal, inexpressible, indescribable, limitless, joy-filled, Spirit-to-spirit, all-free, all-provided connection which we call love-empowered grace!" ~Anne Voskamp

"So; let all doubt be stilled in Love's certainty, for Love always believes. When all seems over, Love rises up with new hope and new strength. Love is who you are!" ~Mary Anne Rabe

His love trumps everything; past, present and future!!!! His love invites me to plumb the depths without fear. His love casts out all fear! And then the incredible gift of friendship comes into focus.

"Friendship is the center peg of all enjoyable relationships and deep friendship is the highest of all. In marriage, in parenting or in the workplace, true friendship is the deepest and longest lasting connection between two humans. It is the same with God. As Creator, Father, Bridegroom, King and Judge the pinnacle of nearness to Him is friendship.

It is stunning that He offers us this kind of entry into His heart and His life; that He wants to "tell us things" and share His heart with us. The fact He enjoys us, not only loves us, but entrusts Himself to us and desires to be with us is the highest reality that I can imagine." ~Misty Edwards

"Finding a true friend is like trying to find a diamond in the sea. It would take forever, but destiny guides the path of the impossible." ~Alan Smith.

True friendship is built, fortified, and secured by the wholly unique love of God. And true, loving friendship expresses itself in the following ways!

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2 If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 3 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love. 4 Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, 5 Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, 6 Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 7 Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. 8 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8, Msg

In the grip of Father's true and eternal love,

Ron Ross

Copyright by Ron Ross.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Rev. Ron Ross is a pastor, author, teacher, and counselor.
As founder of NET Casting Ministries, he equips the church
around the world to care for the wounded and addicted.
Ron is a cofounder of the NET Training Institute.

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