You know that moment when you realize you’ve been running on autopilot in your relationships? Yeah, that was me this past week. I had just been spending some time with the Lord over a cup of coffee (many will agree: that first cup in the morning is a sacred moment). I was journaling about certain situations and digging into the motivations behind the choices I’d made in recent interactions. Suddenly I realized I’ve been neglecting my relational real estate and it was beginning to hurt- that certain kind of ache that comes when we let things fall into disrepair.
As humans, we crave connection. We are built to thrive within healthy family and community dynamics. Our close relationships are built around us like a house, each stone creating stability and support. Some of those stones may be bigger than others; these are the core relationships in our inner circle. Other stones are smaller and they’re the relationships on the perimeter, and some stones are purely decorative; the are the stones in the pathway leading up to the house or the ones holding up the mailbox out by the street. Each relationship has a place in our lives and healthy boundaries keep us aware of where everything is at any given time.
Where we can get into trouble is when we begin to neglect our space and fail to do the tedious but necessary work of keeping up the yard and buildings. Once we begin to allow the cobwebs to multiply, the rot to invade and the cracks in the slab to grow unchecked, we understandably begin to feel shaky and alone. Our support system has been compromised and if we don’t do something about it, we’re going to be stuck sitting in an unstable structure bound for a collapse.
Isn’t it crazy how sometimes God will place just the right song or story in front of you when you need it? A few moments after journaling out my scattered feelings, I got an email from Danny Silk- writer, speaker and counselor filled with profound wisdom. I don’t remember when I ever signed up for his mailing list, but after reading his email yesterday, I thanked my past self for wisely taking that action.
Danny is the author of a wonderful book called Keep Your Love On. If you haven’t heard of KYLO, I highly recommend taking some time to do some summer reading. I can guarantee you have at least one relationship that will benefit from this book and more than likely, it will help you improve the way you navigate relationships altogether.
The email in my inbox talked about something Danny spends a lot of time writing and speaking about: the pillars for healthy relationships. These are as follows:
1. Be powerful.
2. Choose love over fear.
3. Pursue the goal of connection.
4. Practice respectful communication.
5. Honor healthy boundaries.
At any given time, when we pause and dig deep, we’ll discover that we are being motivated by by one of two things: fear or love. Where one is dominant, that other is silenced. Either love dictates our choices and actions, or fear does.
Let’s break it down even more. In every relationship, we are pursuing one of two goals: distance or connection. If we are choosing to pursue distance, this is likely because we have decided we need to protect ourselves from the person we are in relationship with. This decision may even be subconscious, such as if we have been triggered by something that has occurred or been said, causing us to take hold of fear and it's false promise of safety.
Grab this: self-protection is a lie. We were never made to build fear around our hearts like a wall. When we partner with self-protection and disconnection, it’s like running around our collapsing house trying to fix it with the glue and scotch tape. Spoiler: that strategy won’t work. The only way our foundation will become stable again is if we post an eviction notice and invite love to take up residence where we’ve been renting our rooms out to fear.
Take stock with me for a moment: do you have some relationships where you have begun to pursue distance over connection? Why might this shift have happened? Are you believing the lie that you are a victim and the only way to stay safe is to disappear, or are you trying to control the other person? Here’s another spoiler: we can’t control people. It’s called manipulation and you guessed it- that one’s not in the heavenly blueprint either.
If we allow ourselves to interact with the people in our lives on autopilot, at some point we will find ourselves in a relational plane crash. If you're tired of constantly sifting through wreckage in a daze, it's time for an emotional checkup. Healthy connection takes intentionality- a whole lot of it. Trust me, I get it; let's not forget I'm the one who just needed the nudging of the Holy Spirit to realize I had been replacing love with a "safer" goal of distance. It can be the hardest thing to pursue connection over fear. It feels exposing, vulnerable and risky. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
But here’s the good news: we have the capacity to take the challenge because we know the one who holds our hearts. As we become powerful people with the goal of love over fear, God is the one who flies the plane and ensures we land all in one piece.
This word has been challenging me and I invite you to let it challenge you as well. Building healthy Kingdom family is our calling as believers; if we want revival to take place and change this world, it looks like broken people who’ve been made whole producing more healthy people through deep, powerful relationships. Are you ready to put in the work, evict every ounce of fear and let love be the foundation we build on? I know I am. Let's do this.
Recommended Podcast: KYLO podcast