Disagree – agreeably and healthily? 

A disagreement is about learning more about yourself and your partner. It is not about winning.

And I am slowly learning that conflict is a necessary evil for it serves as the refiner’s fire in which we are confronted with our fears, blind spots, and selfishness.

Relationships (good or bad) are magnifying glasses that highlight our differences and they are tools that can help us to learn how to love and cherish our partners better and learn of the areas that we have to surrender to God through prayer.

Today, my relationship served as a magnifying glass.

I found myself in a petty, heated discussion with my partner about minor issues. I was riled up on the other end of the conversation before I realized that I was displacing my frustration with my current crucible on my partner.

Sorry B.

I had to pause and tap into my emotional tank to appreciate that the disagreement was about learning more of myself, the power I had given my current crucible and where my partner was emotionally and spiritually.

This disagreement was not about winning.

And as petty and minor as these heated discussions or disagreements may appear, they are powerful enough to create incredible damage to the trust, safety, romance and longevity of any relationship, if they continue for a consistent amount of time.

So how can we prevent relational causalities from taking place when our thoughts differ from those of our partners?

Relax.

When something is said to us, our emotions become highly aroused and we transition into fight or flight modes. This probably explains why most persons aggressively stonewall their partner or ignore the problem or shut down (flight) or defensively throw stones at their partners through hurtful, critical, snide words or actions (fight).

It is always best to relax and calm ourselves, collect our thoughts and decide on a loving approach to handling the issue at hand.
And, relaxing ourselves takes different forms for many of us. A few months ago, my partner shared that he sometimes asks for time to respond to heated discussions so that he can relax and pray. That is his way of centering himself. I practice deep breathing and scriptural affirmations. The approach you use to pause and relax yourself in a God-approved way, prevents you from saying and committing unnecessary words and actions in the moment of conflict.

Listen warmly to what is said and what is not said.

One thing I have learnt during my current relationship is that what is being fought about is just as important as how you are fighting and those two are just as important as the place your partner is arguing from. It is important to remain sensitive to where your partner is coming from.

Try to listen to your partner’s feelings. Appreciate that all conflict stems from a root and sometimes you have to be the bigger person and dig deep within the emotional lagoon of your partner and ask them how they are feeling in the moment.

It may be something that they are not sharing with you that is frustrating and bothering them and through the common act of displacement they are directing their unwanted and unresolved emotions on you.

Knowing where your partner is coming from emotionally can shift your perspective on the entire disagreement.

Check your motivation.

As much as you are to check the place that your partner may be speaking and responding from, it is critical that you assess the place that you are coming from? How are you feeling in this moment? Will the words you choose help or hurt the situation? Is healing or wholeness the motive for confronting your partner or being right and winning to gain an emotional upper hand, your motivation?

Check your motivation and attitude.

Choose your emotion.

Just as conflict is inevitable; it also always presents choices: Will I be defensive or receptive? Humble or self-righteous? Merciful or stubborn?

How we choose to respond determines if we will strengthen the relationship or further chip at its core.

Choose to respond from a place of love and not a place of fear, anger, control or criticism.

Advice from a wise-head

My dad recently shared with me that sometimes we wait until we are in marriage to actually appreciate the role healthy relationships play in our lives. But even before marriage, relationships, especially committed, public ones, are sermons.

Everything that a couple does is a message to the world about God’s love.

I have considered this thought and have been asking myself every now and again, “What message is my relationship preaching to those watching?” What is my relationship saying about God’s ability to work in two different people to operate in love and as one, even when it is not convenient or beneficial? How is my relationship blessing others as it is blessing my life?”

Recognizing that my relationship is more about God than myself, propels me to fight and argue, well and warmly with my partner because THIS is for the glory of God.

Advice from the Word

God’s word also shines light on how we can engage with our partners better while we experience emotional disruptions.

The following scriptural affirmations have guided me and kept me accountable to God’s standard of love when differences surface in my relationship:

Affirmation: I will speak to my partner respectfully and lovingly.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Affirmation: I will not allow my anger or frustration to control me.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27

Affirmation: I will not seek revenge or engage in any form of pettiness or savagery against the one I love.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 ESV

Affirmation: My experience and education may serve as good guides in healthily handling conflict but God is the greatest guide.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:6 ESV

Affirmation: I will not run away from facing issues with my partner. When the time is right and my emotions are settled, we will address the issues together.

Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. Matthew 5:25-26

Love,

Dee

(C) 2017, Dentrecia Blanchette

 

A Different Kind of Wonderful

The villagers were disgusted with their rat-infested community. The rodents had become a nuisance to every member and something had to be done! In desperation, they demanded of their governmental representatives that the rats be destroyed or else they would remove the governing body out of power.

The governing body explored options to alleviate the rat problem but every option was laced with an appendix of problems. There seemed to be no viable option. Alas, an eccentric, mangy piper with colorful garb appeared with a solution that he called “a secret charm.” He explained that his flute had to the power to lead creatures wherever he desired them to go. The governing body examined the man. A skeptical member asked the total cost and the piper echoed “1000 gilders.” The numbers seemed appropriate. The piper seemed genuine. The community needed a solution. The governing body took up the piper on his offer.

As soon as the piper went outside, he began to play his flute. A sea of rats followed him as he played and he led them into the river where they all drowned. The piper pleased with his work, returned to the governing body and requested his money. The governing body apologized to the piper and gave him 50 gilders instead of the agreed 1000 gilders.

This breach in agreement angered the piper and he headed to the streets and played his flute. This time, the children of the town began to follow him and he took them into a nearby mountain where they “disappeared” with him. The community members and parents stood transfixed unable to move to save their children from the hypnotic control of the piper.

Our hearts are infested with a sin problem and we have explored multiple options to fix this problem. However each option was pregnant with one problem after the other. And in the midst of our despair and desperation, a piper appeared with a quick fix solution. His claims seemed affordable and enticing and we made a contract with him. This piper – Satan- pulled out his flute/ his attractions and whiffed us away down a seemingly enchanting path. We were hypnotized by the temporary blend of attractions and lulled into stupor until we became slaves to every musical note of the piper. We found ourselves following the magical notes of “love” and “success” only to realize that these notes were flawed when compared to God’s standard.

I found myself lulled by the staccato rhythm of the piper into pursuing love interests that were not approved by God. They were colorful and exciting but they led me further away from God’s will. Thankfully, with a consist, heart rendering, ballad of grace, God gently pulled me away from the reigns of the “piper.” God opened the curtains of my heart with each love note and exposed my faulty affections and perceptions concerning dating and love. He called me to disengage my heart from unChristlike desires and untangled my heart, string by string, from the deathly grasp of the piper.

At first the notes of God clashed with the chords played by the piper. But after multiple push and pull episodes, God’s notes of love spoke to every muscle within me and my soul responded. I soon found myself seeking God rather than a replacement of God. Day after day, I intentionally pursued His glory and submerged myself in His Word …. I allowed Him to sanctify my mind and heart and cultivate the fruit of His Spirit within my spirit. With each step forward with Christ, the pull of the piper lost its power, my perception was shifted, and my desires were transformed.

Now, while the beat of God’s love anthem moved me toward a deeper encounter with Him, He brought a God-fearing friend into my life by the name of Lon. Between the booming friendship and spiritual compatibility and the signature of Jesus that was seen in everything this guy touched in my life, I fell in love with his heart. Every word he uttered was grounded in scripture and the Holy Spirit guided every act he committed. He kissed my life with consistent actions that are governed by God’s word. He complemented my spirituality and understood my humanity.

Whether it was through respecting emotional and physical boundaries or embracing new spiritual plateaus together, my Lon, followed God’s compass. And in honor of our obedience to His principles, God aligned our hearts together, created emotional intimacy, and directed us into the purpose that He has for both our lives as a couple and as individuals.

Every step taken in my relationship brings me closer to Jesus. This was the gift I received when I moved in the direction of God’s ballad of grace – He gave me more than I could have asked for.

You may be programmed to follow the leading of the piper, unaware of the destruction that awaits you or perhaps every time you receive the wisdom to follow the gentle ballad of grace, you are held captive by the colorful distractions of the piper. Be reminded that God’s musical notes of grace are more powerful that the pull of the piper and can lead you back to a Savior who desires the best for every aspect of your life.

I invite you to pause, unplug and listen to the soothing ballad God is playing to usher you back into His will. Can you hear it? It’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard on earth. It is pure and divine. It is consistent and unconditional. It is patient and faithful. It is vibrant and penetrating. It is personal and healing. It is grace.

Would you allow God’s pull of love to lead you to your blessing?

I assure you, when we surrender and obediently move in the direction of God’s call and bidding, He will give us blessings that are better than the life we dreamed of.

He will give us a different kind of wonderful.

– Dee

(c) 2014, Dentrecia Blanchette

Defining Our Relationship

There comes a time in romantic relationships where you have to define the relationship. This “Define The Relationship” (DTR) conversation establishes the level of commitment of both parties to each other and the relationship type (Are we just friends or boyfriend – girlfriend? Are we dating casually or exclusively? What relationship territory are we in? Where do we stand with each other?).

According to relationship counselors, the DTR discussion is an element of a healthy relationship, it is a mutual agreed discussion where both parties consider the future of the relationship….without this discussion, many relationships flow undefined and most parties end up being unsure of their role, position and standing in the relationship, giving assumptions and uncertainty a strong foothold in their lives….

If defining our level of commitment is vital to the life of a healthy earthly relationship then defining our level of commitment in a healthy spiritual relationship is equally vital. As Christians and spiritual beings, we have to reach a place where we define our relationship with Christ. Note, we define our relationship with Christ – not our circumstances define…, our earthly circles define…, or our upbringing defines…but we define our relationship with Christ.

So think about it…what type of relationship do you have with God…How would you define your relationship with God? Are you in an exclusive relationship with Him or is your relationship strictly casual? Have you had an honest conversation with Him about your relationship together?

Truth be told, many of us are so broken from the highs and lows of loving other gods that we find it difficult to love God. We allow our trust issues to seep into our spiritual relationship and rob us of the opportunity to deeply experience love on a higher level. And some of us have made previous commitments to God to love Him with everything within our being and like Jerusalem in Ezekiel 16 we ran to affairs with our jobs, passions, pursuits, and earthly relationships. And some of us charmingly dance in circles in an attempt to postpone, delay or dodge having the discussion with Christ about our relationship status.

Today, despite our emotional baggage and our relationship phobias, God is saying, ‘You have shared your intimate moments with someone else…still I love you. You have shared your affection and attention with someone worthy of betraying your love…still I love you. You have made me one of many and not your one and only…still I love you. You are emotionally empty, and unfaithful….still I love you. Would you fully commit yourself to me – spend time with me (through bible study and prayer), tell others about me (let others know of my goodness so they can experience a love that is bigger than this universe), shower me with gifts and affection (worship me)? Would you let me teach you how to love and love you immensely and intensely? Would you deflate your fears, ego, and self-sufficiency and allow Me to show you a love that is safe and secure?’

Be honest with yourself and God – admit your struggles that prevent you from fully committing yourself to Him. Be honest about God’s love – when we consider His record, we clearly see that He is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9 – Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations), He is honest (Numbers 23: 19 – God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?), He is caring (Nahum 1:7 -The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him), He is strong (Psalm 28:8 – The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one), and He is loving (Proverbs 8: 17 – I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me).

Be honest with your heart – there is Someone who longs for an intimate, committed relationship with you and He is waiting to work with you to change your relationship status…would you have a DTR discussion with Him today?

– Dee

(c) 2014, Dentrecia Blanchette

Unequally Yoked. Spiritual Incompatibility.

When we consider biblical references of characters who were unaligned spiritually in their relationships, we are given enough evidence to steer away from relationships with partners who do not share the same spiritual/biblical foundation or values that govern our own lives.

In the scripture, 2 Corinthians 6:14, God in His infinite wisdom clearly warns us of joining ourselves with unbelievers – “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (NIV).

God gives us this command for our own protection, happiness and growth. God knows that our relations affect our spiritual life and our relationship with Him. God also knows that when we are committed to someone who isn’t on the same spiritual level as we are, we will eventually be drawn further away from Him, we will disobey His commands and compromise our values at the cost of our salvation.

Apart from the examples in history that tell of the rotten fruits that are borne from spiritually unequal unions, the story of Samson and Delilah is the most popular unequally yoked relationship discussed. The relationship Samson had with Delilah cost Samson everything. Set apart from birth after his consecration to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines, his relationship with the Dangerous D thwarted his God given purpose, cost him his dignity, eye sight and ultimately his life.

Will our relationship with someone who possesses no love for the true God, our God, cost us our life, dignity and distract us from our God given purpose? Is it worth it?

There are many believers who continue to date the unbeliever because they believe that the individual will change. No doubt the Spirit of God can change the heart of an individual because it is that powerful but should we continue in a relationship that leaves us spiritually hungry, dissatisfied and stunted? No. We can minister to that individual, pray for the individual because we care for them but we must steer away from committing our precious hearts to such individuals who have little regard for the God we serve. And in all our ministering and praying, let us remember that only God can change the heart of any individual.

And Ill just interject here that someone can call themselves a follower of Christ but deny the power of Christ in their very lives. There are many in the church who are not spiritually minded and who profess their faith but do not live their faith or in faith. Not everyone who walks in the same Christian circles as you do has a heart that is entirely for Christ – Judas walked with Christ for years and still was not a true follower. Spiritually unequally yoked relationships exist in Christian communities and the church as well! Be vigilant.

How long will we make the excuses, “our love is more powerful that our spiritual incompatibility” …. “he is a great guy, a good guy but he just isn’t that spiritual or into God” …. “he goes to church but I do not see Christ in his life” …. “I can change him/her” …How long will we compromise and comfort ourselves with the excuses that cause us to disobey Christ’s command? How long?

I encourage you to ensure that your relationships:

1) Lead your attention to God – many partners bask in relationships where all the affection and attention is given to them. Is your partner leading your attention and affections to him or herself or are they leading your affections and attentions to Christ where it truly belongs? When we love Christ more than anything, we reflect a love that is unconditional in our human relationship. The spiritually mature partner knows that a deeper relationship with Christ translates into a deeper relationship with each other.

2) Give God glory through spiritual practices that come from the heart – initiate spiritual practices in the relationship to make Christ the foundation of the relationship – does your partner initiate prayer, bible study, devotions, witnessing? Are spiritual practices only left for one day in the week? Be creative in how your grow spiritually together.

3) Improve your walk with God and improve areas of struggle in your life – our relationships should impact every area of our lives for the better, it should not only draw us closer to Christ but we should see the manifestation of having the Spirit of God in our relationships in the different aspects of our own lives. Are you growing as a person because of your association with this persons?

If you are in a relationship where your relationship is not giving God glory, drawing you closer to Christ through service or spiritual habits, strengthening your spiritual life or making your life more wholesome, then maybe it is time to have a simple conversation with your partner about the spiritual incompatibility. Maybe it is time to speak with God and listen to what He has to say about the relationship and do what He says.

Whatever the Lord instructs you to do about moving forward with your life and the relationship, do it.

Spiritual compatibility is a priority for the Christian because the main purpose of the relationship is to make you holy and draw you closer to Christ as a Christian and as a couple. Don’t compromise your spirituality.

We must not compromise because God will provide the right individual who will lead us higher toward Him, drive us to live out our life’s purpose and contribute to the overall spiritual wellbeing of our lives.

God values relationships, especially for us who are dating and He is more than able to assist us in making wise choices in the process of finding our future spouse. Trust Him.

– Dee

(c) 2013, Dentrecia Blanchette