As we face the challenges of developing healthy relationships, reflect on the following statements and write down your answers based on yes, no, or sometimes.
- Being intimate/honest with someone — even for a short time — is difficult for me.
- I’ve been hurt before and I don’t want to get hurt again. Therefore, I don’t choose any degree of intimacy in my relationships.
- I have difficulty telling even my best friend when I am afraid, hurt, or in emotional pain.
- I feel if I could learn to relax, begin to appreciate the gifts of others, and have a more forgiving spirit, I would then be on my way to inner healing.
- Mutual respect, trust, kindness, and honesty are important in relationships, and I would like to have these kinds of friendships in my life.
- I believe one of the keys to dealing with emotional exhaustion is to take the risk of forgiving others for what they’ve done to me.
How did you respond? Do your answers help you know where you need to work hardest?
Perhaps a traumatic event in your past has made you afraid of pursuing an honest, intimate relationship again. You say you’ve been there, done that, and no more, thank you. The only trouble with stubbornly refusing to take the risk of forgiving and moving on is that you get stuck in your hurt and isolation. Barbra Streisand was right when she sang, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” Why is this? Because relationships keep us healthy. Only in relationships can we perfect our ability to discern what is good and what is not. You cannot accomplish this goal while sitting all alone nursing wounds of the past.
God designed you to be emotionally healthy, and that’s why he built a forgiveness factor into your spirit. When you repress your emotions — and of them — your gut keeps score. But when you take the risk of opening up to others and begin to share who you are with someone you learn to trust, you are on your way to emotional wholeness. The good news is that you can learn to use the fear and miscues of your past to carry you high above the turmoil. You can choose to let the real you begin to emerge — the stronger you who chooses to be emotionally exhausted no more.
One of the first things you must do is quit playing the blame game — one of life’s greatest emotional handicaps. You must be willing to take responsibility for your own words and actions and allow others to take responsibility for theirs. Listen to what others are saying, but take into account who is speaking. With your Christian brothers and sisters, practice submitting to each other in love.
As you regain control of your life, you substitute personal accountability for blame, love for hate, forgiveness for a spirit of resentment. You finally learn the truth that love refuses to enjoy evil and does not gloat at the sins of another, but instead, forgives — again and again. Love takes full responsibility for its actions and gives up on the right to get even.
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 37 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.