Here are my thoughts (blue) and the thoughts of my friend Carol (green). Reading these thoughts that were written a couple of weeks ago is encouraging to me because God has been and continues to walk with me through all of my relationships. The main take away from all of this thinking is that God wants to be number one. "No other gods (or relationships) before me". God told that to the Israelites in the book of Exodus. My loyalty and allegiance is to God first. When His love abounds in my heart, He is then able to love through me in all of my other relationships, marriage, parenting, friendships, work, neighbors, acquaintances and strangers. It is my hearts desire to freely allow God to love my husband through me, to love my children through me, to love my friends and...well you get the picture. Not my love...His love.
How does your relationship with the ones you love reflect your relationship with the lover of all…God?
When God’s love reigns in my heart then the ability to love unconditionally rules the relationship. But what about the different types of love mentioned in the Bible?
There are three types of love mentioned in the Bible. 1. agape (unconditional love) 2. eros (sexual love) 3. PHILEO
(brotherly love or personal affection and it expects a return.)
Jesus loves everyone with "agape" love, and He tells us to have "agape" love towards everyone. (It's pronounced A-gop-a)
What happens when you loose eros toward a spouse but you still agape them? Is intimacy with a spouse connected to intimacy with God? We are made in the image of God and he designed our bodies. If my intimacy with God has increased and grown deeper, why does my intimacy with my spouse seem to be growing weaker? According to the triangle model of relationships if the man and the woman are at the bottom of the triangle and God is at the top, then as BOTH partners advance toward God, they also naturally come closer to each other. If one spouse’s relationship advances toward God and the other one doesn’t, then they remain apart until the other spouse “catches up.”
This is a dangerous place for the enemy to step in and create doubt of love for each other, anger, hatred and possibly separation. Christian couples need to guard their hearts and their marriage.
This would be where the servant heart comes into play and the agape love takes over.
How does your relationship with God, influence your relationship with those you love? Most of the time, my relationships with those I love becomes richer because of my relationship with God. I am more compassionate and sensitive to their needs and hurts.
Do you separate your spiritual relationships and physical relationships? I think the ability to love at all in any form is a spiritual thing and it is impossible to separate spiritual from physical. I believe one motive is dominate over the other. It is our choice as to which one rules our lives.
Is there a need to separate spiritual and physical relationships, or can one love spiritually and physically at the same time?
What is a healthy way to make positive changes in a relationship? Positive change usually occurs successfully when you take time to listen to and understand the other person/group that you want to make changes with. The only change you can actually make is of yourself. Others must make their own changes, but you can influence their choice to change. Collaboration is a good technique for groups and one-on-one. Positive feedback to the other person or persons creates an environment conducive to positive change.
When is it time (if ever) to sever a relationship? How can you know if you should hang on and never let go of a relationship with a loved one?
The commitment made to the other person or group determines the need for ending a relationship. Some relationships are temporary and when the goal of that relationship is met, then the relationship usually ends. However, if a lifetime commitment is made between two individuals or an individual and a group, then all avenues of reconciliation and restitution should be made before considering severing a relationship. If a relationship is not safe, then the person in danger has every right to protect themselves and remove themselves from the danger before cautiously seeking reconciliation. Only the unconditional love of God could allow me to love someone who wants to hurt me.
Here are my thoughts: Without a relationship with God, there cannot be unconditional love toward a spouse. We don’t’ know what it looks like, feels like, tastes like, or smells like. We can only give our human best to attempt to love. Once we KNOW God, and have experienced His unconditional love, then we are REQUIRED to love in that manner, EVERY man, not just the ones we have great personal relationships with. That means the teenager that cut you off, the old man that cussed you out, the cashier who short changed you, the boss who torments you, the newspaper delivery boy who daily tosses your paper in the bushes or on the roof, the hateful mother-in-law, and on goes the list. By practicing unconditional love, expecting nothing in return, we are daily growing in the grace, knowledge and image of God. Once we KNOW God, we are more acutely aware that love is a choice, and there really is only one choice to make, the same one Christ made for me. Carol