This past week marked an official year with my boyfriend, aka my best friend.
This is somewhat a joke because 1. He has pursued me ever since I moved to California back in 2016. 2. We have gone through every stage imaginable in the contour of a “friendship/non-relationship/relationship”: just friends, two people denying they are more than friends, friends who tried to be more than friends and backed out, friends who were more than friends then not…then were…and now are. It’s been COMPLEX, okay? And everyone’s watched the entire thing.
It has been the most confusing, intricate journey of my life — and simultaneously the most beautiful gift.
Meeting him and having TRULY been pursued by a man (the way God designed it), left me with the only option of facing what’s going on in my heart. It’s been the most challenging journey of my life. An invaluable one. One that made me who I am.
Our entire story together has been ongoing since the summer of 2016, but it OFFICIALLY became a solid foundation in the spring of 2019 (told you — long time). All the ups and downs of enjoying love while also figuring out all the CRAP (Yes. CRAP. But good crap.), is a brutal path. But if you choose to stick on it, it is the. Most. Rewarding. Path. You will ever go down.
Choosing to work with and alongside one another’s harsh edges, is a rarity our society needs to normalize.
Sticking with someone to grow each other and learn about yourself should become the norm. We all have the power to create that standard, one relationship at a time. He has taught me some pretty great things about myself that I was way too used to rejecting. On the other hand, he has also helped me discover some areas I could really begin to refine (put nicely) — to allow myself to more affectively and positively love him and the people around me. (AND MYSELF).
In order for any of this to happen, I had to first open my eyes to some incorrect beliefs I was white-knuckle gripping…to no avail.
4 Realities You Should Accept If You Want Healthy Relationships:
& just a small PSA here: you HAVE to do this with God. I believe that if any of these subjects are navigated without the Holy Spirit, you may step into dangerous territory of accusations, blame, judgement, criticism, etc. These subjects are areas that do not move you towards each other unless they are done with the Lord. Done in the flesh, they will only be received with a human desire/posture to “fix” each other, and that is the opposite of the goal/purpose of this post. Okay, proceed.
My perspective will lean towards a romantic one because that was how I initially became more aware of these lessons, but they are applicable to probably all relationship dynamics. I use them in all areas of my life.
1. You’re not as broken as you may think
It seems that when we are letting ourselves get close to someone, we all bend in one of two directions: either we are way overly-confident and lacking some serious self-awareness of our weak spots, or we automatically assume we are the “messed up” one in the relationship and couldn’t possibly have anything to offer more than damage. Both sides have a lot to unpack, but I’m focusing on the proclivity to feeling “broken.” You have to reject that.
We all have histories and things we are working through, but the existence of those things is not what is important right off the bat.
What is important right off the bat, above their existence, is what you are doing with them. Are you seeking guidance and counseling? Are you blaming others and constantly pushing it off? Are you even aware and in touch with this part of yourself? Being in touch with this, is ALREADY being ahead of the game. When you begin to tackle what you see as “the worst things about you”, you will almost 100% of the time find that you are no where near as far gone as you feel.
The enemy will speak this lie to us about our flaws, seeping into one layer of our lives at a time — From our minds, to our feelings, TO OUR HEARTS, to our behaviors, and then our relationships.
Your willingness to even face your tough spots kicks his plan right in the ***. Don’t let your “belief” (his fake power and bullying) trick you into thinking your relationships are doomed before they ever start down the path to health. Don’t let him place blame and shame on your shoulders when the relationship is right in the thick of development and meaningful momentum. YOU’RE NOT as broken as you may think. That’s not your thought. Take it captive.
2. You’re not as “right” as you may think
Oooooon the other hand…
No, you are not as broken as you may feel at times. But I hate to be the bearer of bad news and say…you’re also not on the other end of the spectrum, either. You’re not the “North Star” of the relationship. You’re not the only “level-headed” one. You’re not exempt from ever needing to apologize. You HAVE been wrong, or you will be. This may hit some deaf ears (eyes) as an obvious preach to the choir, but I personally didn’t realize how often I would need to swallow this pill (over, and over, and over again) in my own relationship.
Holding onto my pride feels detrimental in the heat of a disagreement / miscommunication.
Honest opinion: I don’t think we’re ever as right as we may feel (even though I surely act like it and believe that I am in the heat of the moment). It’s sobering to finally accept and admit that I am not always right. Simultaneously, as I continue to keep accepting it, it takes more and more weight off of my shoulders. The more you believe you are the “right” one, the more pressure there is to uphold that standard of:
- Don’t be wrong or you’ll be humiliated.
- Don’t be incorrect, or you’ll look like a fool.
- Don’t make a mistake, or you’ll have to figure out how to cover it up so you’re not seen as a fake who claimed they had it all together and…now you have to say you don’t.
I got so tired of carrying this “duty” only to be left with a ditch between me and the people I was trying to…connect to? The biggest bummer was that I did it all on my own, too. No one asked me to be right all of the time, but I thought I should be if I wanted to look legitimate, intelligent, and confident. Alllll a big fat lie. When I began to let that ideal go, I felt the burden lift little by little and I could finally connect to people around me without SO. MUCH. PRESSURE. I chose connection over being right, because…where was that getting me anyway?
3. This is not a “no-drama” zone
Are you kidding me? Good luck living in that fantasy. This is another ideal that I would LOVE to meet the creator of. As I look back on any conversation we have had that ended in growth and progress, it almost NEVER looked like one person stating their case, the other stating their’s, and us smiling saying “Wow, amazing, thank you so much. This conversation is hereby resolved. Tea?”
I thought a healthy relationship looked like smooth sailing and conflict was a sign that it was wrong and bad. Yeah…I had to let that go real quick. We had to learn to have calm, healthy conversations about uncomfortable subjects — the ones that cause tension and disagreements. This didn’t mean that things looked pretty and cookie-cutter-easy all of the time. Expecting that type of constant is a lot to ask of each other. Feelings happen. Hurts happen. Tears are GOING to happen. All added together, it can feel extremely dramatic, and that’s going to have to be okay.
Just because drama will exist, it doesn’t mean that it has to PERsist.
Practically, drama can look like disagreeing, crying, not seeing eye-to-eye, and ending the conversation with both parties deciding “Hey, this is really hard on both of us right now so we’re going to take a break and come back to this later.” Reminding each other that leaving the conversation without an answer doesn’t mean y’all aren’t connected. Rooting for each other should always be that app running in the background while the answer is being found. Additionally, it will allow for more peace until the disagreement can be picked back up again. Chances are, if you’re stepping away with the added peace of knowing the drama is not a direct reflection of your relationship health, you’ll be able to use that time-out more affectively to gain clarity.
4. You’re probably not as “humble” as you may pride yourself to be (see what I did there?)
You might be. But you’re probably not.
Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think it’s some “rule” that we never behave humbly and it’s some incapability of humanity. I’m not promoting false humility OR pridefulness. The extremes tend to be where the danger lies. I’m only trying to point out that this “always humble” mindset can be a slippery slope. Once we start to meditate on how admirably humble we are (in the wrong way), we can easily begin to harden our sensitivity to when we are stepping on toes. More practically illustrated, red flags in this direction can look like:
- interrupting them to make your point
- formulating your response instead of taking in what they’re telling you
- plotting how you’ll convince them that you’re right
- (contrastingly — and not to be confused with being the “more mature one”) walking away / shutting them out instead of sticking around to comb through the difficult conversation
In no way am I saying any humble act is actually fake. Not at all. I’m saying:
The art of humility requires a new level of responsibility when it comes to self-awareness.
The more I have learned about the trait of humility, the more self-aware I have needed to become to detect when I’m operating in a FALSE sense of humility. The more you learn about one, the more you need to learn about the other. Otherwise, you will naturally begin to get way out of balance. In any type of long-term relationship, it is imperative to predetermine that you are committed to being teachable, taking feedback, and staying open to when you may need to bake a hot and steamy humble pie.
I learned all of this from sticking it out. I learned. Leeeearned. Not instant downloaded. Learned. Definitely be selective with what relationships the Lord is asking you to stay and fight for, but also be willing to put in the work when His answer is,