Our lives revolve around relationships with our spouses, kids, coworkers, neighbors, and friends. Whether you've known someone for years or just days, relationships can have ups and downs that may lead us to ask, "Is this healthy?" We've all heard common parts of a healthy relationship, some that might even sound cliché, like honesty, communication, and respect, which are incredibly important to a healthy relationship! But what are some other key characteristics that distinguish healthy vs unhealthy relationships?
You communicate truth with grace
Being honest with someone you care about can be difficult when you know the truth might hurt. But perfect relationships don't ignore difficult subjects or try to protect others' feelings with lies. Communicating the truth with grace means being honest and open while considering each other's feelings.
What does communicating truth with grace look like in a healthy relationship? In Galatians 6:1, Paul encourages us, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” The goal of your conversation is to restore the other person, not get revenge or prove yourself to be right.
It’s also important to choose the right place and time. In Matthew 18:15, Jesus tells his apostles how to approach telling the truth to someone with grace, "If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense." Having a challenging conversation privately shows the other person that you respect and want to help, not belittle or embarrass them.
You should also ensure it's the right place and time for you too! Are you frustrated, tired, or angry? Is something else going on in your life that might not make you the best person to speak up on this subject? To have healthy relationships, we need to be honest with ourselves before we're ready to be honest with others.
You bridge the gap with trust
We all experience communication gaps in our relationships – a joke that stings, a tone in our voices, or not listening as well as we should. When we don't have all the pieces to the puzzle, a healthy relationship fills the gap between what is known and unknown with trust. Believing the best in the other person's intentions helps to fill that gap.
In Ephesians 4:2-3, Paul encourages us to "Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's fault because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace" In a healthy relationship, you accept that no one is perfect and assume the best of each other even when it's not easy. The goal is to maintain unity, not create friction.
You're genuinely yourself
You may have recently heard the buzzword "authentic." Who we are at work might be completely different from who we are at home, and who we are with our friends might be far different from who we are around our parents. This isn't a lack of authenticity but being aware of your surroundings. Being yourself doesn't mean talking to your boss the same way you speak to a friend; it means presenting yourself as who you truly are.
In every relationship, we have the choice to portray ourselves as who we honestly are or put on a mask and fake parts of our identity. In Galatians 1:10, Paul said,"... I'm not trying to win people's approval but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant." God doesn't want us to change who we are to be liked by others.
Being yourself can feel vulnerable. You might fear judgment or embarrassment. Healthy relationships accept others for who they are, strengths and weaknesses, without judgment. God sees you and loves you as you are – seek being around people who appreciate you for who you are too!
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