March 14, 2016

Emotionally Dependent Friendships

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Friendships are wonderful!  They can be an encouragement.  They can be a safe place to grow.  They can be a place of support.  They can inspire you and make you a better person.

But sometimes friendships can become a hindrance to your growth and even your well-being.  And probably the most self-defeating relationship you could ever experience is that of an emotionally dependent friendship.

This relationship doesn't always begin in such an unhealthy place.  These toxic friendships can develop over time when one or both friends begin to expect emotional well-being and strength from each other.  This often leads to one of two kinds of unhealthy friendships: The Inseparable Gang and The Encumbered Duo.

The Inseparable Gang is an equally toxic friendship that presents itself by the same two or three friends always hanging out together.  They go to the same Bible Study, they sit together in church, they go out for lunch together, they go to public events together, they may even work and live in the same place.  

These friends will often talk about how people of the opposite sex never ask them out or how snobby other people are because they never invite them to "hang out," etc.  

These groups often have one person who is the "ring leader," "mother," figure or "Big Sister."  She is the one who calls the shots.

The Encumbered Duo is more strained and usually between two individuals.  Only one friend is emotionally dependent and the other friend is not. One friend will push for more time and a closer level of emotional intimacy that the other friend does not feel or desire.  

This relationship is often festered with feelings of frustration, confusion, and resentment.  And this causes the emotionally dependent individual to cling more tightly.  At the same time the other friend begins to pull away and may even try to avoid shared experiences all together.

Do you see yourself in either of these scenarios?  If so do you recognize which "role" you are playing? 

Most often people will stay in unhealthy friendships because they're afraid they will be all alone and nobody else will want to be their friend.  People wrongly assume that if they back away or end a friendship that something is wrong with them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

And here I arrive at the point of my post; turn to The Lord for guidance before anyone else, including yourself.  You can and should search for mentors and listen to your instincts but those sources of knowledge are not enough.  When it comes to relationships, especially unhealthy ones, we all need wisdom.  The Bible states in James 1:5:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, 
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you.   

God has a lot to say about relationships and friendships in particular.  Read and reflect on verses and Bible stories He brings to your attention.  Pray and tell Him your worries and frustrations.  He hears and He acts.  Trust Him to know what to do.  

May your current and future friendships be blessed with peace and closure if that is needed.

February 14, 2016

What Is Beauty To You?

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What is beauty to you?

Is beauty something that only belongs to people who are born with great genes?  Or is it reserved only for those who are popular, famous, rich?  Is beauty something that can be attributed to inanimate objects? Is it something that you can buy?

We learn from living in the world that there are different kinds of beauty. A tree has a beauty that is very different from a cherished pet or a porcelain doll or a brand new car.  We learn from interacting with people that  beauty can be different from one person to another. 

But one thing the world gets wrong is that beauty is only something that can be seen and enjoyed on the outside.  The Bible states that true beauty, the kind the outlasts all fashion styles and ages,  is something that comes from within.  It is an attitude, a choice we make every day.  And the world we live in needs to see more beauty and less ugliness.  But the only way that can happen is if we each evaluate our own hearts and allow them to be molded by the Lord. 

We have opportunities to be beautiful all the time.  It just takes practice to recognize those moments and allow the Holy Spirit to make us more sensitive to His urging.

What encourages me on this Valentine's Day is that God reminds us that we are all beautiful to Him.  None of us deserve His love but He offers it to us freely.  I am beautiful to Him!  You are beautiful to Him! 

Never let the circumstances of life, or the critical attitudes of others, make you believe otherwise. Saturate the following verse.  Let God's promise seep into your heart and heal any brokenness you may have.  You are loved.  You are precious.  You. Are. Beautiful.  That, friends, is truth.

" ... it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is of great worth in God's sight."

I Peter 3:4