Love Will Change Your Life

When I was young I did not have many friends. I had enough friends, just not many of them. For many years, I secretly wished to have more friends, to be more popular, to have more people like me. But that was when I “thought like a child, reasoned like a child” (1 Corinthians 13:11). Fortunately, I grew up. Like the Apostle Paul testified, “I became a man and put childish ways behind me” (IBID).

Not everyone does grow up, you know; some just grow older. Aging is imposed; maturity is a choice. When I became a man – a Christian man at that, I began to actually mature. I began to follow One who called me “friend,” and the path we have walked is one leading to maturity. We are still walking; I am still maturing. I have not arrived! Still, something happened along the way, something of profound importance happened to me.

As profound as it was, I cannot tell you when it happened. I suppose it happened while my eyes were “fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Somehow, somewhere, sometime along the way my orientation to life changed. I ceased seeing myself at the center of the universe with everything revolving around me, and everything being about me. Walking further with Christ, I eventually came to realize that neither others nor even the “center of the universe” was the true Center. Rather, the One who made the universe was the legitimate center, the rightful focus of my life, of our lives.

As I lived this way, I ceased trying to have friends. I began to earnestly try to be a friend. I stopped hoping to gain more friends numerically; I began to try to deepen friendships I had. That is, I began to care more deeply about others, or stated differently – to love others better.

In my immaturity, my orientation was completely self-centered. My concern was, “how well am I being loved?”. Even more deeply I worried that I might never be loved as deeply as I desired. As maturity has grown in me, however, I have been motivated by this concern, “How well am I loving?”. And sometimes in quite meditation before my Master, I wonder if I will ever love as deeply as I ought. And He has assured me that “He will carry to completion this work He has begun in me” (Philippians 1:6).

Many years ago God caused me to pause a moment and look around at my life. He wanted me to see something in particular. I saw lots of friends, people I really cared for and who genuinely cared about me. It was amazing the first time I saw it; I have marveled at the sight many times since. As enjoyable as that experience is, it is not my normal orientation to look at that. As faithfully as I can, I am living from the inside out, engaging the world before me, not living as one staring in a mirror to see myself (where you might even be in that reflection, too).

I would not want to leave the impression that being grounded in God’s love for me, living with a passion to be a friend, to really love others, has made me immune to rejection or hurt in relationships with people. It has not. It has, however, made these experiences bearable, and the worst of these thus far, survivable. Neither would I want to leave the impression that I never return to the self-focused life. I have many times. But this I know, that is not the way I was made to live. By the grace of God, I have continued to come to my senses and live in harmony with God and His plan for my life – a God-centered life.

Nowhere in the Bible have I found the command to go out and get love or to find someone to love me. It tells us we are loved by the One who matters most; and then, it tells us to go love others. According to Jesus, the two greatest commandments, which He deemed inseparable, and which He proposed were an adequate summary of the Bible’s whole message, were these: we are to love the Lord God with all our being, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). This is not natural. We, by nature, operate exactly the opposite of this. God is not our starting point; our neighbors are. And we are not trying to love our neighbors; we are trying to get them to love us. Furthermore, until we see this – and see it as wrong – we cannot turn from it.

In the 800 or so words you just read, there is potential hope and direction for living your life well. Jesus did not intend to be a mere spiritual addition to our lives; He came to be our lives (see Colossians 3:2-4). Do you need to change that orientation? Do you need to seriously begin following Jesus, our Friend who sticks closer than a brother? He is still extending His grand invitation: “Come, follow Me!” Remember, please, it is a journey of maturity! Everything will change when you really follow. You will change!

Note: All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version.


How To Keep The Relationship

“Marriage isn’t just about raising kids, splitting chores and making love. It can also have a spiritual dimension that has to do with creating an inner life together – a culture rich with rituals, and an appreciation for your roles and goals that link you…” Gottman, 7 Principals of Making a Marriage Work

There are different elements that help build and support a shared meaning, all of which should be established and then built on over time. Read through each element and answer the questions after each section, making note of any thoughts that pop up you want to share with your lover.

Four Elements that Build a Shared Meaning and Purpose

Tip 1. Rituals of Connection
Tip 2. Shared Views
Tip 3. Shared Goals and Dreams
Tip 4. Shared Values

Tip 1. Rituals of Connection:

A ritual of connection refers to the small things you do as a couple or a family which build and strengthen the emotional and spiritual connections between you all.

Ask yourself these questions:
• How do you and your partner connect with each other?
• Have you developed your own family rituals?
This could be a special meal on the weekend such as a takeaway on a Saturday or Sunday roast or movie night every Friday.
• In what unique ways do you celebrate religious holidays?
• Do you have a ritual for love making?
• Do you dedicate a day or night per week for family or romance?

Many couples find love and connection flourishes when they have an intimate ritual to look forward to. The key here is to find something that you do together regularly that you can look forward to.

Answer the above questions and think about the rituals of connection you have: do they work for you? Could you improve them to increase your connection or create some new ones?

Tip 2. Shared Views:

Support for Each Other’s Roles
When couples come to me a lot of the problems stem from the fall out of what they think their partner “should” be doing versus what they are actually doing. I often hear: “As a husband… ” he “should” be doing this, fixing that, paying for this or giving me that. Similarly I hear it the other way round too: “A wife “should” look after the home, stay in with the family and contribute to the finances.” The problem stems from the fact that these assumed roles are often never discussed so each person develops their own views on situations without taking the time to understand the perspective of their partner. This where resentment builds. The happiest couples agree on the roles they define for themselves and support each other with them. This is crucial as it helps to build a shared meaning.

Family and Parenting
Having similar views on parenting also adds to a strong sense of shared meaning, so does your views on the level of interaction you expect to have with your parents, siblings and cousins. For example, do you both consider extended family part of your daily family life or do you prefer distance and more of a nuclear family?

Work and Career
Even the views on what it means to work and the significance of work in your life is important to discuss. How much work is part of your life can be disputed, potentially causing friction, so having a shared outlook is crucial. Where you can talk about its importance in your life and share your experiences. Some individuals I work with get jealous and annoyed at their spouses involvement with work and staying late or socializing with colleagues on the weekends and this can cause tension for some couples. Compared to couples who agree that work comes first and encourage each other to be the best they can possibly be. Which couple are you?

The extent to which you feel similar about these issues, the stronger your marriage and connection becomes. This doesn’t mean you need to agree on everything but often it’s the couples that are more closely aligned in their views and approaches that are happier and more fulfilled.

What views do you share when it comes to living out your life? Are there any expectations that are a cause of frustration for you that you have not communicated? Could you benefit from some more support when it comes to your roles, family or career?

Tip 3. Shared Goals and Dreams:

Part of what creates a meaningful life are the goals that we strive to achieve. Many of us wouldn’t be where we are today without setting goals and going for it. Without a direction we become aimless, lifeless even. Imagine a ship in the ocean that has no route to follow, directionless, it will float aimlessly and get nowhere. Marriages are the same. The goal of a relationship is not to get married and that’s it. As with any area of life whether that be work, fitness or hobbies, having the next goal in mind ensures your progression, sense of purpose and prevents you from stagnating. Your marriage should be no different – you need positive goals for your shared time together.

Too often we don’t talk about our deepest desires and sometimes we haven’t even asked ourselves about what we want for our relationship, as we’re too busy with life to notice. When we start to explore and define our shared goals we increase intimacy, meaning and purpose. When united by a goal, we can let arguments and differences go more easily.

What are some of your short-term and long-term goals for your marriage? List them and create some more joint ones.

Tip 4. Shared Values:

Like with shared views, having shared values also help marriages flourish.

Ask yourself these questions:

What do you value most about being a part of the family you belong to?
What family stories do you consider with pride?
What does home mean to you?
What activities or objects symbolize a meaningful and well-lived life to you?
What symbols or objects demonstrate who you are in the world?

Analyse what you and your spouse value most by answering these questions and list anything that comes up that matters to you most in life.

Now Create Your Shared Meaning

I have heard many different rituals, views, goals and values because every couple has their own story. Here are some shared meanings:

“to heal and have a peaceful existence” (after a difficult previous relationship and childhood)

“to create a family filled with laughter & love”

“to enjoy life to the max: travel, explore, adventure and excitement”

“to step into parents footsteps and care for the whole family and business”

“to give our children the best education and watch them flourish together”

“to have our dream home on the beach and retire (early) in luxury”

“to live God’s mission together, wherever that may lead us”

“to set up our own business and leave a legacy”

Above all, it’s important throughout your journey to remember one thing: this is your journey. I have offered examples of other couples shared meaning to show that every couple is different.

Share your dreams with your partner and list your one-, five- and ten-year goals and come up with some ideas for a shared meaning that is personal to you and your partner.


Why True Love Endures

Memory carries a lot of heartaches, disappointments and broken promises of which we could hardly let go. Sometimes we are the enemy of our own selves. We want to forget but war arises between our minds and our hearts. It is a struggle to survive day by day forgetting the pain. The more we push away the person who hurt us, the more we will be deeply wounded inside.

We give up but the gravity inside us pulls back that loving feeling. We tend to escape from reality giving ourselves the false hope. But in the morning when we wake up the pain is still there killing us like a double-bladed sword squeezing our hearts up to the last drop of blood.

At night, our beds feel like graveyards where darkness swallow us while we are lying to sleep. The silence of the night is deafening, no music to be heard but only the howling noise of broken heart like wolves waiting to devour us. We looked unblemished but perfectly dying to death.

Painful as it can be, we strive hard to let go. No matter how it hurts, we choose to forget. We force ourselves to find a new love, someone better, someone who could put back the broken pieces back in shape. After a while we realize time provides us an exit from the dungeon of disappointments and heartaches, then we feel brand new.

Yes, time heals all wounds but true love only forgets the pain. It remembers the joy and the love. It reminds us how we felt when we are still together. It brings back time and it conquers all heartaches. The memory of true love holds us still where time machines exist, bringing us to the time when we were deeply in love.

They say true love has the habit of coming back. It keeps coming back to the one we once loved. Because the memory of our true love never fades it lingers like music in our thoughts and feelings. It never goes away, though it gives itself a break but it never dies.

The repetition of falling in love with the same person is allowing ourselves to be broken again. We know that loving with this special someone is giving him/her the authority to hurt us. But we rather embrace the pain while loving… than to let go and bury the feeling. Because true love always returns, true love endures.


Common Mistake During Marriage Proposal

It was Dan and Anastasia’s time. It was a gift from life or, perhaps, it was life’s little joke to itself. Yet, neither of them could bring themselves to laugh. It was too important and too promising.

It did not take long for Dan to turn to Ana one day, take her hand, and say, “If I asked you to marry me, would you say yes?” Ana was surprised. Such a serious question. Daniel’s eyes would not let hers turn away. They were tunnelling with the demand, Answer me, now.

Before her mind could manage to push forth some reasonable concerns, even objections, a smile jumped into the arena and smoothed itself over Ana’s mouth. The deal was sealed in the passing of a few seconds. For the shortest breathing space, Dan and Ana relaxed, as if before the storm. The moment was so piercingly innocent that both felt naked and embarrassed like too much of themselves had been shown to the other. Now, it was too late to take it back. Purity has its own power; not to be messed with.

In retrospect, the signs were clear but Ana didn’t want to believe them. From that purest of moments, the devil was released. The coming months grew more and more confusing until Ana could not remember if Dan even vaguely liked her. One final day, he casually announced to her as if it was of little relevance that he had been lately meeting up with an old friend from some years back. They had reignited their friendship and he was going to move to her city, start a relationship, and live with her. Ana was incredulous.

The sorrow would have been debilitating except that Daniel, in his guilt, had decided that the best approach was to act like there was no reason why Ana would be anything but happy for his new adventure. This brought the fire out in Anastasia. How dare he hurt her like that, ask for her love and trust, and then disregard it as if it never happened. Dan was much bigger than Ana. And he was a man not challenged lightly. She hit him and didn’t hold back. It was not the first time Ana had hit Dan. He hated it intensely because he could not hit her back. He seethed with fury and both stared at each other as if the world was about to explode. At least, it was an even match. Seeing that Dan meant to carry through his plan and do so with no remorse, Ana threw herself towards the door with disgust that knew no boundaries.

It was over. For a long time, every morning following on the heels of waking consciousness, Anastasia would hear the words, It’s over. Accept it. After a while, the anger faded but something worse took its place – grief. There was no stopping it. A thousand times she scolded herself, Why did you give him your heart? You knew it was a dreadful idea. But she did give him her heart. It was already done. Once the contract is signed, it can only be nullified by a painful untangling. Ana wondered how Dan was going in his new relationship. She felt that he must have adjusted by now. He must be happy. It was his decision, after all. Every day she wished him happiness and she would release him in her soul. She thought, How many times must one release the same person?

Sometimes, Anastasia would dream of a friend from another land. The friend had many disguises: male, female, young, old, friend, foe, human, spirit. However, she always recognised the friend by the way it talked, the advice it gave, and the energy field it left behind.

One night, the friend visited her. It explained to Ana, “If you didn’t give Daniel your heart, he could not heal. It’s the price you paid for healing.” Ana wondered if the price was worth it. Maybe, it was all for naught, anyway. The friend continued, “The devil has to first come out and be owned before its owner can learn to subdue it.”

“Will I see him again?” Ana asked.

“Yes, you will see him,” replied the friend. “He never went to live with his friend. He never even started the relationship. As soon as you left, there was no need of that relationship anymore and so it didn’t even get off the ground. He did not love her but he needed a reason to make you leave. If one cannot trust that one will be loved even at one’s worst, the healing cannot begin. One will always be lying about what is inside oneself. The devil inside must be let loose before it can be tamed.”

“Will it be tamed?” asked Ana.

“That, my dear Anastasia, is the enthralling story of life. We would not want to spoil it. It is written by the most brilliant of writers, you know. It is enough for you to know that love is its own reward.”


Why You Need To Love Yourself

Growing up, most of us had numerous experiences of being blamed. I was frequently blamed for things that I was too young to understand, or for things that I didn’t do ‘right’, or for things that, to me, didn’t seem worthy of blame.

Being blamed feels awful, and I learned to feel guilty even when I hadn’t actually done anything wrong. Looking back, I now understand that blaming and judging myself, which caused me to feel guilty, felt better and more empowering than feeling the depth of helplessness over being so unseen, unheard and misunderstood.

Today, I work with many clients who are very reactive to being blamed. They often get angry or defensive, rather than feeling the helplessness and heartbreak of being unseen, unheard and misunderstood. Of course, this creates problems in relationships, since their partner then also feels unseen and unheard at the other end of the anger and defensiveness.

Blame vs. Responsibility

One of the underlying issues is that there is often confusion between responsibility and blame.

What would happen in conflicts if partners and families accepted that everyone is responsible for their own behavior and choices, but that no one is actually to blame? What if we each chose to open to learning about our own responsibility in any conflict situation, without blaming ourselves or each other?

Loving yourself when being blamed means that you stop blaming yourself – stop judging yourself – and open to compassion for the pain of not being seen and understood. If you stop blaming and judging yourself, then you have a better chance of staying open to taking responsibility for your own choices. It’s so much easier to not get angry and defensive when you can accept responsibility without blaming. Loving yourself means remembering that everyone is responsible but no one is to blame.

Remembering this is also what creates relationship and family healing.

Of course, none of us has control over whether or not anyone else lets go of blame and accepts responsibility. But even if it’s just you, you can affect a change in your relationships. Just imagine how much easier it would be to stay compassionate with yourself and open to learning, during conflict, if you weren’t reactive to being blamed, because you were no longer getting triggered into anger or defensiveness.

Since I’ve let go of the whole concept of blame, I find it easy to accept responsibility. For me, taking responsibility goes along with learning about myself and about what choices have been loving to myself and others, and which haven’t. When blame is out of the picture, it’s easy for my love of learning to take over. I love the excitement of learning new things about myself and new things about what’s loving!

You will find that when others blame you, it will still hurt your heart – because others’ unloving behavior always hurts our heart when we are fully open to our feelings – but it’s easier to not take the blame personally when you are no longer judging yourself. It becomes less difficult as you practice either opening to learning with the other person, or lovingly disengaging when someone is blaming you, and being very compassionate with your heartache over others’ unloving behavior.

The challenge is that the wounded self loves to blame. Blaming makes our ego wounded self feel superior and in control, but it’s also the wounded self that is self-blaming and feels inferior. When you embrace the understanding that everyone is responsible but no one is to blame, you take the power away from your wounded self and put your loving adult in charge.

I hope you embrace the responsibility and let go of the blame. You will find yourself feeling truly empowered when you are able to do this.