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If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
1 Corinthians 13 (NLT)
In the minefield that many relationships bomb out in, how can two flawed human beings do better? And what do we do when the going gets tough? Do we push on, or jump ship?
When it comes to the controversial topic of commitment, it seems we are drowning in confusion.
Millions of questions are being asked by very human people with seriously hungry hearts; all longing to love and be loved. And many self-help books, blogs, podcasts and TV Shows aim to answer them, offering thousands of theories, opposing opinions, and ground-breaking philosophies.
Whilst these diverse techniques offered promise resolution, they never deliver. Instead, now, in the 21st Century, the ache of heartbreak remains incurable.
Actually, the Happiness Industry thrives on the expensive lie that someone out there is waiting to complete you; will be of service to your pain; relieve that insistent ache within; finally make your life feel meaningful.
When we sentimentalize the idea of a soul mate we fast track toward a cliff-edge called co-dependence. The idea was never to dip into each other.
There is a pre-destined partner out there for you. It was God’s good intention that man and woman would join as one, cleave together, commit to each other in marriage, build a solid foundation of relationship, add a family to this, work purposefully in life, together. Be fruitful & multiply. Make a difference on Planet Earth.
This entirely different concept is divinely designed.
When we align with our Creator’s plan and purpose for our lives, our relationships become harmonious; we support and encourage each other, go through difficulties together; work toward a common goal. We carry our own burdens and take responsibility for our own pain.
God Himself is Love, and we must always remember that His ways are higher than ours. When we find ourselves acting in primal ways that reflect no elegance, we are deflecting back to dependence.
So, if we are to debunk the myths that remain in service to instant gratification, we must refuse our illusions, and crash back to reality.
Pointing a finger at someone else when we return to our own repetitive pain, is blame shifting. The person we are called to face is always ourselves. When our hot spots are triggered, the critical question to ask is, “what in me needs attending to?
Investigating another person’s heart is not our job. If any of our relationships are to flourish, the ‘I’ in ‘you’ must be addressed. It is only as we develop a good measure of self-awareness, that we learn how to achieve contentment, even sustain satisfaction.
A relationship is not our opportunity to have our unmet needs filled by another’s emptiness. As a society, we have to start facing the personal giants that keep arising within each of us; stop searching for ourselves in others; stop seeking to be soothed. Stop purchasing false comforters; stop dramatizing our emotions; stop anaesthetising our pain.
Also, a relationship is an ethical issue. When we stretch out our heart to another, we must show up as we are, ‘warts and all,’ present ourselves authentically. Worship singer Josh Garrels makes this important point by calling misrepresentation “dangerous dysfunction in disguise.”
We must take off our masks and put down the measures we use to market ourselves. We may not hide our brokenness behind materialistic bling, nor adapt our identities to appear more appealing.
As we understand how powerful emotional attraction is and how instantly it cleaves on common ground, we will recognize that misrepresenting ourselves is never ok. It is not honest. People are not playthings.
Relationship is an ethical matter and becoming intimate with another is a Giant Responsibility. Every heart holds Precious Treasure.
It is when we surrender our infantile ideas that we can really get serious, recognise the healthy relational alternative of interdependence.
Perhaps then we will understand why a time of courtship is wise. Time spent getting to know each other as friends first will break through beyond charm and personality; expose personal values and patterns of behavior. Once character is revealed, we then stand in choice.
Conversely, if we dive deep into emotional or sexual intimacy too soon, or even worse, become intoxicated with each other, the path back to reality is difficult.
We cannot afford to trade in deceit. Our hearts are fragile; they are a gateway to all that we are. Not everyone should be allowed to enter.
It is our own unresolved issues that blind us; that cause us to play on repeat. The familiar is appealing. We gravitate towards people who are not healthy for us, even unsafe. As we look back on our relationship history, the real question we should be asking is:
“What are the common denominators in the theatre of my own life?”
Are we not on the list? Aren’t we always present in all our dramas; the central character in all our choices; right up front in all our regrets? Man down in the boxing ring?
Turn your attention to yourself. Begin to ask the critical questions that count.
‘It takes two to tango,’ is not a cheesy cliché.
It’s a Big Truth.
By Noluthando Mthoba
Adult Centre Case Manager
Noluthando Mthoba originally came through our Youth Centre. She was then raised up as a Volunteer and now acts as Adminstrator. She is also a Case Manager for our Adult Female Centre. She models a magnificent mix of authenticity, integrity and super cool style, every day.
This article is first up in Thando’s Healthy Relationships series. Stay posted and we will guide you into solutions around typical Relational Red Flags that arise for all of us.