Well Hi there! Welcome back to my mini-series on what the ideal world of Christianity looks like to me! You are so kind and patient and perserverant for sticking with me this long and I am infinitely grateful that you keep on coming back. Just another friendly reminder that I’m not a professional- I haven’t been to seminary and I’m not a theologian. Enjoy the read, y’all!
Relationships are hard.
I mean, really hard.
It requires a lot of patience (of which I have little), a lot of give and take (I like to take), a lot of listening (I’m really more of a talker), and a lot of unconditional love (that whole “un” part is not really my thing).
I can hear what you’re thinking, “She’s a child, she doesn’t know anything about relationships.” It’s true that I’m not married- I never have been. I’m 19 and somewhat still a kid in the eyes of many. I’ve only been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 2 years, so I’m not what you would consider an expert.
In fact, I’m a novice. But hear me out.
Because I am so young, I remember almost too vividly horrifyingly embarrassing scenarios with my “boyfriends” in seventh grade. I remember the “heartbreak” I felt in sophomore year. I remember “falling for” the wrong guy. I mean, let’s face it, middle school and high school are emotional years. To quote the Lizzie McGuire movie “I think we can all agree that junior high is filled with embarrasing and awkward, and downright humiliating moments, right?”
Anyway, as I have advanced to the very wise age of 19 (read some sarcasm into that), I’ve realized that I would give just about anything to travel back in time to my 13-year-old self and give her some advice. However, I think that the advice 13 year old Rachel needed to hear, is advice that could be applied to relationships across the spectrum.
So here we go:
1. A relationship should not define you– You are not who you are because you have a significant other. You are you because you are someone worth being. You are not you because Mr. Handsome decided you were worth dating. In fact, what should define you is your relationship with God. You are His. You are child of the God Most High, and He delights in you. Your value comes from the love of the Lord. Remember, there is a man out there who loves you so much that he died for you. Seek Him to find who you really are. Find your value in him- not a mortal sinner.
2. It’s never okay to bash your significant other– Not to your friends, not to your parents, not to your sister, not to your brother, not to your pets (okay, maybe your pets)- My reasoning behind this is simple: When you’re in the heat of the moment and something is really bothering you, you are much more likely to say things you don’t mean. And when you say those things to other people, it first opens the door for them to insult your significant other, too. And you really want that door to remain closed.
Secondly, it makes an impression on those around you. While you may be absolutely livid at the moment you’re telling your friends about what your significant other did, in fifteen minutes, you may be cool as a cucumber. You may work out your differences with your significant other, come to an understanding and move on smoothly.
However, the person you just bashed your significant other with is almost never as quick to forgive as the person in the relationship. No one forgives their partner as wholeheartedly as they do. The bible is constantly talking about the danger and harm in gossiping (Proverbs, 2 Corinthians, Titus, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Romans, etc). It’s not a loving thing to do. Ever. Seeking counsel is one thing, but gossiping for the sake of hurting your partner is another thing entirely. Don’t do it, young Rachel- don’t subject your partner to the pain of gossip and don’t subject your relationship to the vulnerability of enabling other people to tear it down.
3. Humility and encouragement are key– When you’re in a relationship, it’s not just about you. It’s not all about your problems, your successes, your opinions, or how you look. It’s not about tearing your significant other down or belittling them to build yourself up. It’s about not focusing on your own needs, but instead looking for ways to meet the needs of your partner.
You should build up your partner and care for them to the best of your ability and in times of struggle you should lift them up in prayer and encourage them as much as you can. And if both parties in the relationship take on this attitude, then both of your needs will be met as each of you strive to care for one another. The bible consistently gives instruction for both parties in the relationship to care for one another.
Ephesians 5:22-27 says “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
Rachel’s Translation: Women, love your man like God’s people love Him. Men, love your woman like God loves His people.
Which brings us perfectly to my next piece of advice.
4. Love is independent- True love for someone is not dependent on the music they like or their favorite football team (even though liking the Packers makes it easier to love someone). It’s not dependent on their talents or skills or how much money they make. It’s not dependent on anything, because at the end of the day, you love someone because you see their worth through God’s eyes.
You don’t see them for their human qualities, you see them as fellow children of our loving Father and you find their worth simply in the fact that they are made by God. So while their taste in music may change, and their sense of humor may change, and even their favorite football team may change, your love for them will never change because their status as a person of the Lord doesn’t change. So, 13 year old Rachel, who cares if he likes Jack Johnson or Flo Rida, in the end, those tastes won’t save your relationship- reminding yourself that he is an incredible man of God and challenging yourself to see him through God’s eyes just might.
While there are countless other things I would love to mention to my former self (mostly regarding my heinous footwear), those 4 things are some of the most important aspects of a relationship to me.
In my mind, in my ideal world of Christianity, we would remember these things.
We would remember to seek our worth through God’s love for us in His perfect sacrifice.
We would remember gossiping about one another, especially our partner, is detrimental to a relationship.
We would remember that we need to humble ourselves and seek to meet the needs of our partner through encouragement and prayer.
And we would remember that our love for someone shouldn’t be dependent upon what they like and dislike or what they’re wearing, but it should be rooted in our faith with the reminder that our partner is an incredible child of the Lord Most High, and that in and of itself is a reason to be loved unconditionally.
In my ideal world, people would apply this advice not just to their significant others, but to all people they encounter.
JUST A QUICK NOTE: My boyfriend doesn’t suck. He is completely wonderful and such a blessing not just to me, but everyone he meets. I am so thankful for him and I strive to treat our relationship with this advice, though I know I fail everyday. I love you Matty P.
Hurray! We’ve made it 3 posts into the mini-series! You’re doing great, everyone. I am so appreciative of your commitment to reading this blog. Give yourself a pat on the back! Stay tuned for next week’s edition- it has to do with Roman torture methods, a posh elite, an angry mob, and a stranger….