10-Point Check-Up for Your Relationship, Part 1

Short on time? Listen to the audio version of this post.

This month, James and I will celebrate our five-month anniversary! Each month, we’ve started the habit of doing a check-up on our relationship. It’s nothing formal, just a moment to pause and ask each other if we’re driving the other crazy yet. I’m glad to report that we haven’t!

In all seriousness, though, I appreciate this check-up, because it invites honesty, transparency, and a chance to make misunderstandings right early before something becomes a larger issue.

Did you know that I Corinthians 13 provides a check-up list of its own? If you replace the word “love” with your name, you have a basic check list of the behaviors you need to practice in order to love well.

Right, that’s easier said than done. But let’s give it a try and see how we do.

#1: I ______ am patient and kind.

Fill your name in the blank. I’ll go first. I, Kristen, am patient and kind.

Well, I typically am kind, but patient, not so much. Perhaps that’s why I’m thankful patience is one of James’ strengths. He helps bring my anxious heart back to center and reminds me that sometimes, God just asks us to wait. And that’s okay.

There’s an interesting connection between both these virtues and our relationship with the Lord. Consider these verses:

  • “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7 NKJV, emphasis added).
  • “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV, emphasis added)

When we are resting in the Lord and keeping Him as our center, we can be more patient with our spouse or in any other circumstance. Moreover, when we live in the light of God’s ultimate kindness and forgiveness, we more often remember to extend grace to those around us.

#2: I ______ do not envy.

Ouch. This one is hard for most relationships. If you don’t have a relationship, you might envy your friends who do. If you’re in a relationship, you might envy someone else’s. After all, according to social media, they’re perfect and have life all together.

The truth is, they probably don’t, and we don’t either. So let’s remind ourselves not to waste our energy envying. A synonym for envy is covetousness, and the Apostle Paul warns against this sin for one fundamental reason.

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV)

We can be satisfied with our current relationship or situation, because when we have God’s presence in our lives, we have what we truly need.

#3: I ______ do not boast.

Do you often find yourself bragging about your accomplishments to your SO? If so, boasting might be a problem.

Although there’s nothing wrong in taking ownership for a job well done, Scripture only commends “boasting” when we redirect the glory back to God. For example, Paul “boasts” in his weakness so that Christ’s strength can be magnified in his life (2 Corinthians 12:9). In that same letter to the Corinthians, he also provides the guidelines for when boasting is appropriate:

 But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”  For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:17-18 NKJV)

When we find ourselves craving affirmation, we need to be careful. God’s approval should be our primary concern (Galatians 1:10).

#4: I ______ am not proud.

The opposite of pride is humility, and both are attitudes expressed through our actions. Even if you don’t think this sin is your problem, ask yourself: How was my attitude about going the extra mile when my spouse forgot to do something? Did I mumble about giving more than my share in the relationship? Remember, pride looks out for “I,” but humility looks out for “U.”

Marriage has definitely revealed to me areas in my life where selfishness is present. Usually, pride rears its ugly head in “pressure-cooker” moments, such as when I’m tired, not feeling 100%, or had a tough day at work.

However, making excuses is not the solution. God’s grace is.

“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6b NKJV)

That verse tells me God is more interested in my character than my comfort, but He won’t abandon me when I choose attitudes that please Him. He’ll give more grace as He prunes my pride.

#5: I ______ do not dishonor others.

Word to the wise: Never ever embarrass or belittle your SO in front of others. However, dishonor can also be a private matter as well. Do your words build up or tear down?

Our tongues hold such potential and also such danger. The Apostle James warns that the tongue is “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8 NKJV). Eek! “Deadly poison” should not describe how we talk to anyone, let alone the people we love.

Next week, we’ll look at five more check-ups for our relationships, based on this passage. Plus, I’ll offer a download that puts them all in one place, a great resource to share with the one(s) we love and start a conversation about how we’re doing.

Till next time, love well!

~ Kristen

Tweetable

10-Point Check-Up for Your Relationship, Part 1 – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Finding Center in Life’s Turbulence

In my recent travel adventures, I noticed the flight crew now refers to “turbulence” as “rough air.” I’m not sure why. “Rough air” sounds no less pleasant. Regardless of how we spin it, turbulence remains a reality for air travel and, honestly, for life in general.

Sometimes, we don’t even have to be in the air to experience it. My last travel experience involved being grounded in a plane for two hours before the airline allowed us to disembark (due to weather).

As I waited in the crowded plane, just ready to be home, I felt a rising frustration at my helplessness. I closed my eyes and tried to pray, but my emotions were less than Psalm 23 worthy.

I typically can find the positive in the negative. This is a first-world problem. At least the AC is working, and you’re sitting next to your best friend. But despite all these happy thoughts, an unrest clung to my spirit like gum to a shoe. Have you ever felt that way?

In the grand scheme, this was just an inconvenience that taxed my tired travel nerves. However, God used this low moment in my life to remind me that circumstances shouldn’t control my emotions but that He should be my unshakable center.

To read the full post, visit BigSisterKnows.com. I’m grateful to my friend, author Ashley L. Jones, for the invitation to share on her blog this week!

~ Kristen

Tweetable

Finding Center in Life’s Turbulence – @BigSisterTweets and @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Love, Truth, Love

You are in for a treat! My friend and writer Ashley Jones of BigSisterKnows.com is my guest here today. She and her husband Robby demonstrate how differences can complement each other. Are you more like Ashley or Robby? Read on to learn how each personality type has its own strength and weakness … and how these blended styles help us make the most of our relationships.

Guest blog by BigSisterKnows.com

My husband Robby and I have been happily married for over six years now. One of the reasons we work so well together is that neither of us likes drama. We prefer the simple life. But, sometimes, stuff happens and you just have to deal with it. And that’s when our complementary personalities really shine. You see, Robby is a natural-born peacemaker, and I’m…well…scrappy. As you can imagine, we didn’t always see this difference as positive thing.

Early into our relationship, Robby’s “can’t we all just along?” temperament grated on my “why can’t everyone just do it right?!” attitude. It wasn’t long before we realized some very important things about ourselves.

Truth, Truth, Truth

I am a “truth, truth, truth” kind of person. Not only do I want to know the truth, but I want to relay the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, at all times. If that hurts your feelings, I’m sorry—but not really, ‘cause I can’t help that it’s the truth.

Love, Love, Love

Robby, on the other hand, is the quintessential peacemaker. He is a “love, love, love” kind of person. Yes, he wants to be truthful in all things, but if he has to pick, he’ll choose a loving silence over a truthful discourse any day.

Truth or Love?

At one point, we talked about what was more godly: truth or love? Fortunately, I was taking Bible classes at that time, and we looked into the following verse:

 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24 NAS)

The teacher suggested that “in spirit” means “in love,” since we know that “God is love” (1 John 4:16 NAS).

Although the context of John 4 is worship, all of our activities can be considered worship if we do them as unto the Lord. (See Colossians 3:23.)

Pulling these concepts together, I realized that my words and actions should be as loving as they are truthful.

Love, Truth, Love

That’s when Robby and I made a pact. He would be more upfront with the truth, trusting that I wouldn’t overreact or blame him for passing along difficult news. And I would be more loving, sweetening each word of truth with love. Now, we’re both striving to be “love, truth, love” kind of people—sandwiching the necessary truth in love.

I have to admit that this has made me a better person, wife, and friend. It’s also enabled me to minister to others in a meaningful way.

Learn to Love

If you’re a truth-focused person like I am, take heart! You can learn to be more loving in your interactions with others. Here are a few tips.

  • God first – Remember, the great commandment is to love God, and the second is to love your neighbor. (See Matthew 22:37-39.) We can’t fulfill the second commandment until we fulfill the first. It might help to think of the image of the “love cup.” Focus on your love for God first, letting that fill your love cup. Then let God’s love overflow and pour through you into your relationships with others.
  • Fake it – In the meantime, “fake it ‘til you make it.” I don’t mean that you should be a fake person, but if you make an effort to be nice and caring, you’ll find your emotions follow suite.
  • Pray – You can’t dislike someone you’re praying for—at least not for long—so pray daily for their welfare.

Learn to be Truthful

If you have a hard time telling difficult things to people you love, you can learn to be more truthful.

  • Right motives – We should never speak the truth out of a sense of self-righteousness or judgment. However, we should speak truth in love if it will help the other person in some way. This could be as small as telling your friend that she has spinach in her teeth; or it could be as big as confronting her with her addiction to alcohol. Just make sure your motives are righteous before you speak.
  • Faith – If you need to say something, then have faith in your friend and in the strength of your relationship. Even if the truth rocks the boat a bit, your friend should appreciate that you said what you did in love.

What about you? Have you struggled with speaking truth in love? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NAS).

~ By Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

Thank you, Ashley, for sharing this guest post! You can follow Ashley on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Tweetable

Be a “love, truth, love” person—sandwiching the necessary truth in love. @kjhogrefe @BigSisterTweets (Click to Tweet)

Adored Giveaway!

Thank you to everyone who participated in and shared about last week’s Adored giveaway.

Congratulations to the winner, Elizabeth!

 

 

3 Pitfalls of People Pleasing

Does anyone else out there struggle with the problem of people pleasing? What are some core values we can keep in mind to help us be honest with others and ourselves? I’m excited to share this post with you, which published today on DailyPS.com, and welcome your comments.

Post excerpt

As a youth leader for six years, I often challenged teens not to conform to peer pressure but to let God’s Word transform their thoughts and actions (Romans 12:2). Recently, I realized we adults suffer from a subtler form of this problem called people pleasing.

Those of us who dislike conflict and change (or is that all of us?) find this problem particularly painful. If we’re going to conquer it, though, we have to take an honest look at the pitfalls of putting others’ opinions over what we know God has asked us to do.

Pitfall #1: Pretense over Transparency

Perfectionism often goes hand-in-hand with people-pleasing. We want others to think we have our lives, jobs, and relationships immaculately intact. We crave acceptance and applause at the cost of quenching the impact our messy, imperfect stories can make.

Can you imagine if the Apostle Paul had attempted to cover up his past crimes against Christians? He would never have gained anyone’s trust or been half as effective in spreading the gospel. Instead, he proclaimed from the rooftops “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15 NKJV).

Are we afraid God can’t use cracked vessels? A quick study of Scripture reveals the very opposite is true. In fact, He chooses the most unlikely people to accomplish His will. Yes, transparency makes us vulnerable, but it can also open doors to the most unexpected, amazing places.

To learn about the other common pitfalls and find help to overcome them, click here to read the full post on DailyPS.com.

~ Kristen

Faith That’s Not Fake

Recently, I attended the Florida Blog Convention in Orlando with my friend and fellow writer Ashley Jones. We figured we might be the only Christian bloggers there but wanted to go and learn what we could. Turns out, there was only one other “faith” blogger in attendance, but everyone we met was friendly and welcoming to us.

We befriended one blogger who seemed confused by what we write. Finally, she asked, “What is a fake blogger?”

Ashley and I stared at each other. Fake?

“Oh, faith-not fake,” we hurried to explain.

She smiled. “Yeah, I was kind of wondering what a fake blogger would write about.”

Truth be told, however, some people are just as uncertain what faith bloggers share. Mainstream blogging is all about monetization and numbers. While some Christian bloggers also make their livelihood from writing and most certainly want to be successful in reaching their audiences, the difference is their motivation. We write because God’s called us to write and to be light.

Our new friend’s words made me pause and question: Do people see our faith as fake? “Authentic” is a buzz word in blogging, and we Christians of all people should strive for transparency. We can’t present ourselves as happily settled on an unreachable pedestal.

Instead, we need to be real, honest, and also loving toward those who might be genuinely searching for God. No one can relate to someone who presents himself as “perfect,” and yet how often do we want people to think we are?

Of all the ideas I took away from the convention, this one conversation sticks out to me the most. Though the blogger simply misheard what Ashley and I said, she could have easily misunderstood the meaning of our faith if we hadn’t shared it sincerely with her.

How can you authentically share your faith instead of putting on a “spiritual” front? What does that transparency look like in your day-to-day life?

~ Kristen

Tweetable

Does your faith look fake? – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)