- Good governments allow their people to speak up and share concerns and to share their ideas.
- Good managers want to hear what their people think and want to know if there are problems and want to help their employees succeed.
- Good parents care what their children think and how they are feeling and want their children to share these things with them.
- Good teachers care about their students’ ideas, feelings, concerns, and needs.
- Good pastors care about their congregations’ input.
So, even children, employees, students, church members, and citizens should have the freedom to share concerns, needs, desires, feelings, and ideas when they are in healthy environments.
Where is it where people are not permitted to say what they need, how they feel, or what they think?
– those who are literally slaves or who are in concentration camps.
– those in extremely oppressive countries with totalitarian regimes.
– those who are in abusive or dysfunctional relationships/families.
That is not what we would want – or what God would want – for anyone! God values each person having free-will and having his or her personhood.
Here are a few hallmarks of abusive/dysfunctional personal relationships (in families or romantic relationships):
- It is not okay to talk about your feelings
- I am responsible for your decisions, obedience to God, sins, and emotions.
- You are responsible for my decisions, obedience to God, sins, and emotions.
- It is your job to make me happy. If I am not happy, it’s your fault.
- Conflict is unacceptable.
- Disagreement is not allowed.
- You are not safe here emotionally.
- Your voice is not important to me.
- I “love” conditionally with strings attached. If you don’t perform according to my standards, I won’t love you anymore.
- You better put me above everything and everyone else, including God.
- I will not respect any healthy boundaries you try to set.
- You may not confront any sin in my life but I am able to confront you any time I want to.
- You are accountable to me for everything you do, think, and say – as if I am god in your life.
- I am always right and you are always wrong if you disagree with me.
- I know what is best for you.
- I won’t forgive you. I cherish bitterness.
- I expect you to meet spiritual and emotional needs in my life that only Christ can really meet. I come into this relationship as a spiritual and emotional black hole of need.
Some hallmarks of healthy relationships (these would be our goals as we allow Christ to empower and refine us):
- It is okay to talk about anything and to share your feelings about anything – even if they are negative.
- We will work through conflict together. Conflict is inevitable. We won’t always agree. But we will always love each other and work through it as a team.
- Conflict is an opportunity for growth.
- I love you unconditionally.
- You are safe here in every way.
- You are important to me. You are precious and very valuable.
- Your ideas, feelings, concerns, and desires are important to me.
- You are responsible for your own emotions, decisions, obedience to God, and sins.
- I am responsible for my own emotions, decisions, obedience to God, and sins.
- We are kind to each other and treat each other well.
- Love and respect freely flow in both directions here.
- If we are not happy, it is our own responsibility to take care of our emotions and to voice what we need.
- Healthy boundaries are respected.
- We are each free to respectfully confront sin in each other’s lives. We will work as a team against sin and the enemy.
- We expect to put God way above us or anything else in our lives.
- We know we are all ultimately accountable to God for how we treat each other.
- We trust grown adults to make their own choices.
- We seek God individually and together and know that ultimately He alone knows what is best for each of us.
- We approach each other with humility.
- Forgiveness, mercy, grace, and second chances are available here.
- I allow God preeminence in my life and find my deepest spiritual and emotional needs met in Christ. I come into this relationship filled to overflowing with the spiritual abundance of Christ.
How God Relates to Us:
- He allows us to share our fears, concerns, feelings, ideas, problems, etc… with Him in prayer. He shares His feelings, concerns, wisdom, and character with us in His Word and in response to prayer.
- He allows us to ask for things. He asks us for things.
- He wants us to know Him deeply. He knows us deeply.
- We are safe with Him. He should be safe with us.
- We are important to Him. And He should be the most important One to each of us.
Boundaries – by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
www.leslievernick.com – She has a number of Christian books about handling difficult relationships, including marriage