In the context of relationships, it is touted men are from Mars and women from Venus, but I tell you over my lifetime I have met those from Pluto, Jupiter, Uranus and some even from the Sun; my friendship with them burned me so badly!
It’s not just men and women who think differently from each other. People in general are raised with different values and beliefs systems. Some come from two parent homes with a foundational upbringing, some come from broken, single parent homes. And, a good share come from abusive, (whether mentally, physically, or sexually), dysfunctional, or homes where there was alcohol abuse. Likewise, a person may have had a background of any variation of these interchangeably. Our relationship compass is based on a module of our parents’ (or parental figures) relations with each other, and with us as children. Thus, that’s how we first learned our behavioral language. Subsequently, environments such as school, work, or social environments as well as romantic relationships, peer pressure, and religion also shaped the way we behave and relate to one another. Therefore, we all enter relationships with pre-programmed information; what we deem is right, wrong, acceptable or intolerable based on perceptions of our own individual reality.
A problem occurs when some cannot incorporate another’s “reality” into a relationship and accept the person and their life’s experience, and work toward finding a common ground. With this mindset many have an insular view of those not like them. They deem their experience, beliefs, and outlook on life as being superior than another. This behavior speaks of a person who is unwilling to compromise in relating to others’ needs and has a shallow, one-sided expectation of how they expect to be treated within a relationship. Oftentimes, this results in said person(s) taking on a role as a dominator or aggressor; or becoming passive in the relationship.
Some people are narrow-minded in their perception of others, and are truly blinded outside of how they were raised. Because they have not grown up in or experienced a certain environment, they can be very judgemental and unwilling to accept a person different from themselves for who they are. Or may feel that they are superior or better than the person.
There are many in the church who have given their lives to the Lord, and sit under sound doctrine and teaching, that exhibit these dominating characteristics. There are some who enter ministry and because of position, develop a superiority complex, and become puffed up with a condescending spirit of pride and importance. Many spiritually bruising those new sheep that enter the flock. I call them Bible Bullies! They are ever ready quoting scriptures, holding prayer meetings, at every church conference; but their tongue speaks of condemnation, and heart of judgement.
This behavior is was what turned me away from Christianity in my formative years as a Christian. Fast forward, years later when I came back to Christ and started going to a new church. A young lady in the church befriended me, as I hardly knew anyone at the church I was happy to make new friends. She seemed nice at first, she would invite me over to her house for prayer meetings, and different church functions. At her prayer meetings, the way she delegated authority instead of letting the Holy Spirit lead, I started to see a dominating spirit but just brushed it aside. The more I fellowshipped with her the more uncomfortable I became. She slowly began picking me apart; she didn’t like my hair, put down the way I dressed, I was too quiet, I didn’t talk enough in her prayer meetings, she didn’t like the career I was in at the time. The list went on an on. A full grown adult, I felt like a child being scolded by my mother again. She was very verbal and offensive in her opinions, and she had a very dominating personality. As a young Christian I would tell myself, “this is my sister in Christ,” to try to keep the body of Christ in unity, and after all, I was supposed to “suffer long” as the Bible tells us to do. Many days this lady would tell me something so hurtful it brought me to tears; but she was a leader in the church, she was well-respected, and she knew the word of God. Unfortunately, this would not be the only “Christian” relationship that I tried to hold on to at the expense of my own self-value and self-worth.
As a baby Christian, I just could not understand how people purporting to live for Christ could be so mean and cruel. I would go through the motions with them like clock work: argue, feel guilty, repent, forgive, argue again.
Everybody kept preaching forgive, forgive, but what I couldn’t understand was how to forgive a person who kept hurting me over and over again. A person who keeps reopening wounds that have healed. I kept meditating on Matthew 18:22: forgive your brother seventy times seven. But really, how do you know when it’s time to just walk away from a relationship, Christian or otherwise? How do you know when it’s not just about forgiveness, but you are being abused? I simply didn’t know how to separate forgiving a person from loving them from a distance. So after contemplating and praying profusely about it, I feel God put an answer on my heart.
Signs that you should FORGIVE, but love from a distance:
1. Physical, verbal, mental abuse
3. Constant attacks on your character
4. Condescending i.e always putting you down
5. Can’t accept you for the person God divinely made you to be
6. Tries to change you
7. Tries to get you involved in illegal activity
8. Person is not willing to compromise
9. Person has a gossiping spirit and constantly spreads others’ affairs
10. Jealous, envious, competitive spirit. Not happy for your success
If it is a struggle to be in a relationship with a certain person and you feel drained every time you go around them, for your own peace of mind and sanity you may have to walk away from the relationship. Sometimes it can be just for a season. God is not the author of confusion (1Corinthians 14:33). Where there is no peace, beloved, God simply is not there.
However, I have had experiences where people came into my life and I truly suffered long with them and there was a spiritual sharpening and pruning in either person, resulting in long-lasting friendships. Beloved, every relationship in your life should be brought before God in prayer and fasting to get His clear discerment and purpose for that person in your life. Again, those lasting friendships were interceded daily for God’s discernment.
I prayed, fasted, and interceded for the aforementioned friendship but after seven years I had to walk away; walk away in tears might I add! After all those years she didn’t change. The answer God told me was that some people give their lives to him, but not their mind. My former friend was a Christian but her mind was still operating in the world system. She had not given God full control of her mind! Moreover, all of us have had strongholds that we had to surrender to God once we became a Christian, and for some it may have taken years to be delivered. But if you truly want to be set free, first there must be a confession, then repentance, and a willingness to change. Beloved, God speaks in confirmations. If you keep getting the same message from different sources, God is trying to get your attention! Sadly, my former friend had the same problem in every area of her life, but refused to become accountable for her actions. Oftentimes, “Bible Bully” would boast ‘this is the way I am and I’m not going to change.’ Sorry…if the stench of your behavior is insulting and offensive to your fellow brethern, you are polluting the fragrance of Christ.
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 2 Corinthians 2:15.
Being a Christian is so much more than being busy for God or doing things for the Kingdom. The foundation of Christendom is based on relationships, period! God is the author of relationships having first created man, Adam, then creating a help mate, Eve to be in relation with him (Genesis 2:22). In Genesis 7:9 God commanded Noah to take the animals in two’s aboard the ark. Beloved, it takes “two” to procreate. The most important relationship of all: God exemplified the ultimate act of love by sending his own beloved son down to earth to die for us sinners so we can have salvation (Romans 5:8). More than that, back in the Old Testament God spoke to people only through prophets: Moses (Exodus 19:3-25, 20:1-17); Elijah (1Kings 18); Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:1-7). Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:1-28); Jonah (Jonah 3:1-10). Those desiring to follow God did not have the luxury as we do today to communicate directly with God. God loved us so much He sent us a comforter, the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), as a conduit to be able to communicate with Him one on one, so we can have a personal, intimate relationship with Him!
So if God built His kingdom on the foundation of relationships, how much more does He want us to have a personal and loving relationship with each other according to the scriptures?
1 John 4:9-11: In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us and sent His son to die for us, we also ought to be able to love without criticism and condemnation, as God’s grace overlooked our filthy sins. If we began to model all of our relationships after the relationship The Father has with us, maybe we will learn to accept each others differences, idiosyncracies, habits, and behaviors with tolerance, and open-mindedness; rather than heavy-handed judgement and ridicule. Maybe we will learn to accept others’ shortcomings with patience and edification rather than shunning them because they’re not like us, or trying to make others fit into our mold. God is not a Bible Bully!
John 4:8 says:
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.