WHAT IS THE GOAL OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
You have a goal for every relationship in your life. Though you are not usually conscious of it, you are working toward one of two outcomes. Either you are creating a safe connection or a safe distance.
What is safe?
What feels safe to a person depends on what they fear the most. For a person who fears being controlled, a safe relationship looks like the other person respecting boundaries. Someone who fears rejection may feel safe when acceptance feels unconditional.
When we feel insecure in a particular relationship our natural response may be to control the other person or to withdraw. Both of these are ways of creating a safe distance. If we have a goal to create a safe connection, we need to be intentional about removing the fear without creating distance.
How to create a safe connection
If you want a safe connection, you have to remove fear from the relationship. Fear causes a fight, flight or freeze response. None of those promote connection. If you want connection, fear has to go. Love is the powerful force that drives fear out of the relationship.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
First and foremost, love means punishment is off the table. If people are afraid you may punish them for disappointing you, they will try to keep their distance from you. You may punish with the silent treatment, a lecture, the cold shoulder, or an angry outburst. No matter the technique, the result is the same. Distance.
The only way to create a safe connection is to remove the fear of punishment. It can have no place in your relationships. Confrontation, yes. Correction, sure. Honest communication, you bet. You can have boundaries for yourself and let people face the consequences of their choices, but punishment is off limits. Always.
Turn your love on and keep it on
You have the ability to love. Every person has it by nature of their humanity. We were all created in the image of a God who IS love. Christians have an advantage. We have the example of Jesus who laid down his life for his friends (including us). More than that, we have the Spirit of Jesus living in us as a wellspring of divine love that we can tap into. Either way, we can tap into and turn on the faucet of this love. We can keep it directed at someone regardless of how they respond or what they have done.
When we choose to direct our love at someone, it needs to look like something. It can’t just be a vague feeling. We need to make love manifest through words, deeds, affection, or some other expression of love. It needs to be something meaningful for the other person. If they don’t experience our love, then we need to try a new approach. We may love them, but if they don’t feel it or believe it, what good is it?
How to manifest love
Sunday we will be talking about how to manifest love so people experience it. Driving fear out of the relationship is the first step, but loving people in a way that they get it is just as important. If you want a head start, read the second chapter of Danny Silk’s amazing book, Keep Your Love On or check out The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
In the mean time, continue asking yourself “Who or what is in control of you, your emotions and actions?” and “What is the goal of my relationship?” for each relationship that matters to you. Is it keeping a safe distance or building a safe connection? Until it is the latter, no amount of information or education can help you.