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5 Ways To Keep A Healthy Relationship

Title: 5 Ways To Keep A Healthy Relationship
Artwork by: YMI X Clara Tan (@theperfectstatement)
Description: Snuggling on the couch watching Netflix, exchanging long phone calls and sweet text messages, going on romantic walks and Satur-dates. These are often the images that come to our mind when we think of being in a relationship.

Clara is a wedding photographer who has had the pleasure of listening to her clients’ love stories over the years. While Clara spends her time immortalizing her clients’ wedding day, she knows that making a relationship work takes more than the exchange of vows or a beautiful gown.

Join us as we walk with Clara and Nic through their relationship journey and share their ideas for building a solid and enduring relationship.

 

Our days demand a lot from us—rushing from one meeting to another, attending events, catching up with friends. But spending quality time with the person you’re dating is important, as it allows you to learn more about one another, and stay connected. Activities such as reading and discussing books you enjoy, or talking about topics close to your heart, helps you gain an insight into your date’s thought life, and is also an opportunity for the both of you to sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17).

 

There is a time and a season for everything in a relationship (Ecclesiastes 3:4). There’s a time for dressing up to impress our date, a time to be honest with each other, a time to mourn and weep, and a time to let our guard down for a good laugh or joke with our boyfriend or girlfriend. Being able to honestly share these emotions with each other will strengthen our relationships.

 

In a relationship, arguments and disagreements are bound to happen. How do we respond to each other during such moments? 

If we hold grudges against the other person, and are unwilling to forgive them, it can give way to deeper relationship problems. Instead, let’s learn to pursue peace, to talk through any hurts and disappointments together, and work towards forgiveness and reconciliation (Colossians 3:13).

 

Being heads-over-heels in love with our boyfriend or girlfriend could sometimes cloud our better judgment. But Romans 12:1 reminds us that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. How can we ensure that our relationship is Christ-centered? We can seek out an older respected couple to journey with us during this time. They can pray for us, while pointing us in the right direction, with the aim of helping us honor Christ through the decisions we make in our dating relationship.

 

It might seem boring to read and talk about the Bible together during a date. However, we are called to spur each other on in our Christian faith (Hebrews 10:24-25), and these activities that might seem mundane are important in drawing us closer to God. It also helps us grow closer to our partner as we learn more about the other person’s values, and watch each other grow and mature in Christ.

 

3 Questions to Ask When You’re Dating

Dating can be such a thrilling adventure, especially since it might possibly lead to marriage! However, before we even step into a relationship, there may be many questions in our minds. For instance, how can I know that I’m ready for a relationship?

While I don’t claim to be an expert, here are three qualities that I have found to be foundational in my own relationship, and I hope they will point you in the right direction.

 

 1. Are They Good-Looking or Looking at God?

What attracts you to someone? Is it their physical appearance? Character? Personality? Career?  I’m sure you can add a few more items to the long list of traits that might attract us to another person. But if we dig deeper, we know that none of these things on their own can sustain a relationship in the long-term. As Christians, we must look for something much more important: whether Christ is the director of their life.

When I first met my fiancé Brian, I wasn’t entirely attracted to him. I thought he looked kinda cute, but hardly gave him a second thought after our first encounter. However, over the next few weeks of working in the church office (we were both interns at the time), sharing break time together, and sneaking conversations over work tasks, I began to see his passion for the gospel and his desire to spread it wherever he went. This was very much in line with my own desire and calling in life—I have felt a burden for foreign missions for the past several years.

As the months went on, I came to develop a deep admiration for Brian—for his dedication and loyalty to Jesus. Since then, my romantic interest in him also started building, and I became deeply attracted to him. Safe to say, I was falling in love. As it turns out, he was too.

So, my relationship with Brian didn’t happen the way most people expect. Instead of being brought together by a physical or personality attraction, it was his dependency on Christ as the author of his life that drew me to him. I found that attraction to the other traits followed close after.

 

2. Are There Opportunities for Healthy Growth?

We’ve all probably heard the words “love is a not a fairytale.” Which is true, because for any relationship to succeed, it takes work, effort, and sacrifice. Feelings are not strong enough to get a couple through all of that. No matter how strongly in love or “mushy” a couple is . . . feelings change.

There are days when we have arguments, disagreements, or opposing views, and it can cause both of us to question whether God really did mean for us to be together. In those times, it is especially important to be on guard against frustration, anger, impatience, and even self-righteousness.

As we worked through these challenges, we’ve learned to make room for God to mold and shape our hearts. We’ve learned to allow these circumstances to catapult us toward prayer and seeking counsel in the Word, as well as from seasoned believers. It’s now our prayer that we will have the humility to accept the Spirit’s conviction and to obey whatever the Lord places on our hearts.

The inevitable difficulties and trials in a relationship demand more than simply being head-over-heels for each other. Ultimately, we need our common foundation in Christ to help us see how we can become a good team, complement each other, and most importantly, become more Christ-like through the entire process.

When we are both drawn to Christ and to helping each other be more like Him, we don’t need to fear attacks—for we know that even during  periods of trial and testing, God is working to sanctify us and make us holy (Philippians 1:6).

 

3. Do Your Differences Divide or Complement?

Brian and I could not be any more different. I am an outspoken, strong-willed, at times fierce, free-spirited woman from the jungle in central Mexico. He is a reserved, thoughtful, strong, silent man from metropolitan Hong Kong. The comments about how different we seem never cease, and we laugh because others don’t even know the half of it.

Of course, sometimes these comments can be discouraging, especially when we hear others tell us that we won’t be a good fit, or would mostly likely end up having a catastrophic relationship because of our differences.

For Brian and I, we are reminded that in the early times of the Apostles, the Spirit of God brought together multiple nationalities and people of different cultures and languages in birthing the Church (Acts 2). And we know that at the end of the day, it is not culture and traditions that would carry on into eternity, but what we do in obedience to the Lord.

Just as diversity in the body of Christ allows it to work so effectively (1 Corinthians 12:12-14), we believe the same applies to marriage. Together, Brian and I have discovered that we complement each other with our strengths and weaknesses, and are able to reach a wider range of people in our international surroundings because of this multicultural relationship we have been given.

Having said that, we also believe it’s important to be humble and seek God with an open mind, especially if trusted friends or family raise concerns about a relationship. Sometimes these concerns are unfounded, while other times people outside of the relationship may have a clearer perspective.

One instance where having outside input was helpful was when one of my spiritual mothers gently shared that I needed to be more patient and understanding of Brian’s Chinese upbringing and less stubborn about only doing things according to my culture. Another time was when one of Brian’s close friends helped him realise how he needed to grow in boldness as the leader of our relationship, especially when times get hard. These insights have helped the both of us see our own blind spots, and enabled us to grow in the way we relate to and love each other.

It is important for us to always examine the differences we have with our partner, and seek God to understand whether these help us sharpen one another, or whether they will create a division in the relationship.

 

It is often easy to seek fulfilment and purpose in a significant other. But we know that ultimately, nobody can meet our needs the way God can. Whatever our circumstances, we belong first and foremost to God. He loves us like no one else will, and values us like no other (Matthew 10:29-31). In every step of our relationships, let us not chase after what the world values, but instead seek to please God.

As you consider dating or entering a relationship, don’t panic or worry over how you’ll handle it. Pray about it, and ask God to bless you with wisdom, strength, and guidance. Surround yourself with godly counsel and couples who will be able to help you navigate the challenges you might face. Take this opportunity to trust in Him more, know Him better, and He will show you the way you are to walk in because He is a faithful God.

 

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a two-part series on dating and marriage. If you’re considering taking your relationship to the next level and wondering if you’re ready for marriage, read the second part of the series here

The Best of Friends

Title: The Best of Friends
Materials: Watercolor Painting
Artwork by: Lara Sim X YMI
Description: Engage & Encourage. Forgive & Forget. Pray & Praise.

Our best friends are with us in the good times and the bad — to endure the struggles and celebrate the victories.

Think of a friend or friends whom you have been encouraged by and loved by. Tell them you appreciate them today!

 

 

Engage & Encourage

Is there a friend in your life that you have been meaning to catch up with but never seem to find the time? Do you know what your friends are facing? The good and the bad? Make it a goal to connect with each of your friends on a routine basis — even if it’s only a quick phone call or coffee over a lunch break. Invest time in the relationships that matter to you — building each other up with encouragement and love.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

 

Forgive & Forget

Sometime friends disagree. It’s in these moments that we need to remember what makes our friends individually unique and special to us. It’s expected that we will not always see eye-to-eye but we can always agree on how to move beyond the issue at hand. Be open to conversation and seek understanding. Sincerely offer and receive forgiveness — just as Christ forgives us.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

 

Pray & Praise

What do you celebrate with your friends? True friendship is about sticking together when life seems to be falling apart and celebrating the victories and blessings that God provides when we don’t expect it. Our stories are our testimonies of God’s work in our lives. It’s important to share life with our friends as a reminder of God’s goodness and grace.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16)

 

 

Jesus

3-jesus

No matter what your relationship status is this month, may you remember that you are deeply loved by Jesus. He is the true lover of your soul. And He is pursuing you with a crazy, relentless all-powerful love. He is the only one that will truly “complete” you. He takes great delight in you, and He rejoices over you with singing. He is calling your name, and inviting you into a beautiful adventure. There is nobody like Him, and nothing can ever compare to His love. Rejoice in this love today…and may your soul sing His praise…today and always.

Contributed by Jason Van Dyk, God’s Fingerprints