The 21 Laws of Relationships (P2)
Ever heard (or said) this before? Relationships shouldn't be this hard! It should be easier and just flow.
This is only partially true. Only when we know and keep acting on Biblical and common sense absolutes do relationships become much, much, much easier. A flow starts flowing until it overflows. However, be clear on this: to whatever degree we are relationally lawless, to that same degree our relationships will be burdened with emptiness and hard labor. Try breaking the law of gravity or the law of respiration and see what happens. Beloveds, God established precepts and concepts in every dimension of reality for a reason.
(8) THE LAW OF LOVE DEFICIT & PROVISION
Relationships become holy, healthy, and happy in proportion to love deficit and provision.
Love deficit refers to the specific type of love each person needs or values most (knowingly or unknowingly, admittedly or denyingly). Love provision refers to the giver's recognition and sensitive commitment to provide that specific type of love.
For example, David had a throbbing love deficit from his brothers' shame and rejection (1Sam 17:28,29). Therefore, God sent Jonathan as a surrogate brother to provide that exact type of love to rebalance his emotional debt. Instead of shaming David, Jonathan admired and affirmed him. Instead of rejecting him, he embraced and loved him as himself. Love deficit and love provision.
All people, to differing degrees based on their wholeness level, pursue decisions and relationships by their love deficit. They do this hoping to find the corresponding love provision and rebalance their heart. Emotional relationships (family, romances, close friendships) are the most susceptible to creating love deficits, yet, possess an equal power to provide for, heal, and rebalance those deficits with relevant love. When people's love deficits are overlooked and not provided for, Pandora's Box opens. If a relationship is consistently unfulfilling, it is often because love deficits have not been fully recognized and love provision is not happening or happening enough.
Relationships are the place where God pays off our love debts. How many "one another" commands are in the New Testament? Between fifty and sixty. God will not do all the personal transformation in the secret place of His presence. He will do some of it there, but not all of it. This is where relationships enter the machinery of the overcoming life. In relationships our love deficits are exposed, and ideally, provided for by a conscientious person who loves relevantly.
(9) THE LAW OF CHANGE-INCLINATION
Relationships become holy, healthy, and happy in proportion to the change-inclination of each person.
Change-inclination refers to a person's level of willingness and diligence to change attitudes and behaviors detrimental to the relationship, or, certain benign habits that simply annoy and papercut the relationship. Practically, this means flexibility, adjustment, and sacrifice in any and every way necessary to establish a pleasant rhythm and increasing fulfillment.
Relationships were intended to change us (Pr 27:17, Ro 15:14). A stubborn goat unwilling to change will never enjoy happiness and intimacy. They will forever remain in relationship prison--and other types of prisons--wondering what is wrong with everyone else. Do not be that goat!
Relationship is the merging of two (or more) worlds and the creation of a new one. Some of the elements of those worlds are beautifully compatible. Some can be made compatible with patience and wisdom. Some must be sacrificed totally. A wise person who enjoys Edenic relationships understands change-inclination very well. They are ever ready and willing to adapt, adjust, bend, negotiate, compromise, and sacrifice to walk in Eden with others. They are not weak-willed, they are soft-willed. Big, big difference.
We cannot change others. Hopefully you have matured into accepting that. Many people, though, become obsessed with rearranging others, yet fail to see this is codependence at best, manipulation at worst. Personal transformation is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit and the person's freewill alone. Certainly we can try to exert healthy influence on others through example, humility, love, speaking truth, respectful confrontation, and other provocative agents. But our inspirational efforts have limits, limits we must respect. When each person in a relationship has a high change-inclination, their bond will never stop developing into new realms and new joys.
(10) THE LAW OF PEACE-ORIENTATION
Relationships become holy, healthy, and happy in proportion to the peace-orientation of each person.
Peace-orientation refers to a person's level of zeal for harmony in a relationship. I am not referring to a false peace or peace-faking, whereby one person indulges another person's evils or significant immaturities. Rather, peace-orientation is a zeal for true harmony that drives one to be solution-oriented (not personal), negotiable (not stubborn), and just plain loving and humble (not difficult and combative). This golden quality is determined almost entirely by the spiritual and emotional maturity of the person.
Scripture has a mouthful to say about peace-orientation. Paul said, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3 NIV, underline mine). In the verse before he tells us to be completely humble, gentle, patient, and loving. He also said, if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Ro 12:18). Jesus said, "Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another" (Mk 9:50 ESV). Salt preserves, so Jesus is saying preserve peace as much as possible. God's Word is commanding us to have a high peace-orientation.
Those with a low peace-orientation are constant perpetrators of drama and conflict. Scripture frowns on them. Proverbs 29:8,9 (NIV): Mockers stir up a city, but the wise turn away anger. If a wise person goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace. Psalm 120:5-7 (NIV): Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek, that I live among the tents of Kedar! Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.
(11) THE LAW OF BLUEPRINTS
Relationships become holy, healthy, and happy in proportion to how each person wields their blueprint.
A blueprint is a preconceived model. Architects use blueprints to guide their construction of buildings. The imagination conceives it, the paper records it, and the workers build it. Similarly, each person has a relational blueprint, a mental model of what they expect the relationship to be. This blueprint drives their attitudes, behaviors, and words in major and minor ways. The more common word for a relational blueprint is expectations. It is a blueprint, though, their blueprint--the sum total of their expectations.
A relational blueprint is not necessarily wrong in and of itself, but how one wields that blueprint is often wrong. First of all, we need to downgrade our blueprint from a fossilized expectation (an idol) to a flexible preference (a healthy desire). Venerating our blueprint too highly makes us remarkably selfish, even narcissistic, obsessed with My wants and My needs. Intimacy, though, is give first and receive second.
We all have wants and needs; most of them are legitimate and fair. But if we become experts at satisfying the other person's blueprint first, while walking intimately with the Lord everyday, our faithful God will take up our case Himself. He will do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine to satisfy our blueprint in His way, in His time. Remember Abigail in 1Samuel 25. Read that story with relational blueprints in mind.
Luke 6:38 (NIV): Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Philippians 2:3,4 (NASB): Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
(12) THE LAW OF CULTURE
Relationships become holy, healthy, and happy in proportion to a warm and gracious climate.
Every relationship has a felt atmosphere, and that atmosphere imposes moods and thoughts on the individuals involved. A climate of tension precedes angry outbursts. A climate of depression and hopelessness precedes secrecy and scheming. On the other hand, a sunny climate of optimism, laughter, and mere friendliness provokes reactions of life, enthusiasm, warmth, and the want-to to change.
Whatever we focus on in others we draw out of them. If we have holiness OCD and fixate on their immaturities and sins--and constantly let them know about it--you can be sure those tumors will grow. Bad attention is always better than no attention, it is still attention, even to adults. When we focus on the higher self we want people to grow into, the less they feel the need to act out. Proverbs 18:20,21 say life and death is in your verbal focus. This does not mean we never confront in love, because Scripture commands us to occasionally do so (Eph 4:15, Mt 18:15). It only means the overall culture is not one of criticism and moral harassment.
If a culture of sunshine prevails long enough, some immaturities and sins will dissolve on their own. Soften your face, Ecclesiastes 8:1 says. Smile more, Proverbs 15:30 says (NIV). Laugh often, Proverbs 15:15 says. Someone will have to dig deep, rise up, and set a new weather pattern in the relationship. Every gesture, every reaction, every word, every behavior...is creating a culture in your relationship.
(13) THE LAW OF BATTLE
Relationships become holy, healthy, and happy in proportion to how the individuals disagree and conflict.
Some people cannot have conflict with others without personalizing the entire matter. They bypass the issue at hand and fall away into insults, cheap shots, and disrespect. They attack the person, instead of trying to negotiate a solution. This leaves broken feelings and broken trust in the aftermath. Few people are mature enough to walk on that kind of water repeatedly.
Others, however, talk agreeably and nicely in disputes, yet scheme in the background for revenge. These are the "guerilla fighters" and "insurgents" of relationships. They do not conflict directly, usually because they hate conflict and have not learned to negotiate honestly, yet they seek their payback in secret. This happens in marriages where one spouse cheats to get back at their partner, or feels they deserve it, yet still comes home to play Happy Family.
All the aforementioned are war crimes, inhumane battle tactics. They destroy relationships faster than you can say, "That's not fair!" Here are a few tips for conflicting fairly:
Discern the Conflict's Nature: Emotional or Intellectual?
Some conflicts center on feelings. If so, then talk emotionally, honestly, and vulnerably. Some conflicts center on differing opinions. If so, then debate facts. Make sure you talk on the same level, whether it is feelings or opinions. Crisscrossing brings confusion and misunderstanding. I call this conflict crisscrossing. If the conflict contains elements of both, then talk emotionally first (validating feelings), then intellectually second (discussing opinions and facts).
Always Give a Fair Trial
Everyone has a right to explain themselves. Let them. Do not assign motives. Do not assume. Delay verdicts and judgments until all the evidence is in. Listen to Solomon in Proverbs 25:8 (NASB): What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?
Stay on Topic
Do not bounce around from issue to issue. Women, open your ears! Address the most pressing issue thoroughly until mutual satisfaction is reached. Yahweh Elohim dismantled Egypt one god at a time, not all at once.
Be Solution-Oriented & Negotiate
You can obsess over being right or you can have a holy, healthy, happy relationship. Seek solutions, not face-saving, pride-saving self-justifications or winning the debate. Do you want to be right or alone? Be solution-oriented & negotiate.
Let gray areas remain gray, and let disputable matters remain disputable, Romans 14:1 says. Some conflicts do not have an immediate resolution. Recognize that and be content to let time and the Lord unfold the best outcome (Ps 37:7,34).
Relational battles can make us question whether we are truly loved or not. Ignore ego and always reaffirm your love and commitment. Sometimes this is really at the root of it all--a miscommunicated desire for loving reassurance. Notice what Paul said in 2Corinthians 2:7,8 (NIV): Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.
(14) THE LAW OF FORGIVENESS
Relationships become holy, healthy, and happy in proportion to the forgiveness aptitude of each person.
Matthew 18:32-35 (NIV): Then the master called the servant in. "You wicked servant," he said, "I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?" In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.
The above scripture makes me quake. Forgiveness is a spiritual aptitude developed through inner healing, time, and practice with the Holy Spirit. I will not say anymore here because I have written a thorough teaching on the subject, Forgiveness...Can I Truly Forgive? (in the Relationships Catalog).
Know this: holding grudges, harboring offenses, keeping a record of wrongs, silently stewing and brewing, and planning counterattacks is sin, sin, sin. It will ruin the relationship, and according to Jesus in Matthew 18:34,35, God will "turn us over to the jailers to be tortured" if we refuse to forgive from the heart. Whatever that means exactly, those are severe words from a very forgiving Savior.