10-Point Check-Up for Your Relationship, Part 2

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Last time, we looked at five check-points from I Corinthians 13 to help us evaluate if we are loving our spouse, significant other, and other loved ones well. Today, let’s round out the list with five more points. Can we truthfully fill our names in the blank? More than likely, we all have some areas needing God’s refining work.

#6: I ______ am not self-seeking.

Do you take an interest in what interests your spouse? One of the best ways to show your SO that you care is to actively engage with his interests instead of demanding your preferences. For example, James enjoys watching cross-country biking. I honestly didn’t know that was a “thing” before we met, but guess who now knows the top racers by name? Yep, I do. Go ‘Merica and Kate Courtney!

When we seek others’ interests above our own, we cultivate the mind of Christ. In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul wrote these words:

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (NKJV).

Although Paul was referring to unity in the church body here, I think the mindset of humility has far-reaching applications for our relationships. We can love well when we put others’ well being  and preferences above our own.

#7: I ______ am not easily angered.

There is never a reason to raise our voice to someone we care about unless perhaps his personal safety is in danger. “Watch out for that falling tree!” Yes, that would merit screaming. However, our common speech should “always be with grace” (Colossians 4:6 NKJV).

Realistically, the people we love will anger us at times. We live in a fallen world, and anger is an emotion we experience. However, how we respond to that anger is up to us. If your SO makes you angry, express that you’re feeling angry and ask to talk after you’ve been able to work through your emotions. Responding in the heat of the moment will only hurt, not help, the problem.

#8: I ______ do not keep records of wrongs.

I once heard the story of a newly-wed asking for guidance from an older woman. The young bride complained, “My husband makes me so angry sometimes. How many times do I have to forgive him?”

The older woman said, “I decided my husband could do ten hurtful things, and after that, I would have a right to be angry.”

“What was on your list?” The young woman asked eagerly.

“I never wrote them down,” the wise woman replied. “But whenever he did something hurtful, I told myself that was one of the things on the list I needed to forgive.”

Such wise advice! Relationships aren’t sparring matches. Don’t try to count your love’s faults. Prayerfully examine your own. (See Matthew 7:3.)

#9: I ______ do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth.

A relationship that delights in evil is headed to the gutter. That seems like a no-brainer, but how do we rejoice with the truth?

When we face discouragement in our relationships (and we will), we should tune our thinking as Philippians 4:8 instructs.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (NKJV).

Let’s rejoice in the beautiful parts of our relationships and entrust the areas that need work to God in prayer.

#10: I ______ always protect, trust, hope, and persevere.

When James and I took our marriage vows, we pledged to have and to hold, for better and for worse. Daily, we must guard our marriage by making it a priority. We must trust, hope, and persevere even when rain clouds darken the sky.

I admit that we’re still in the newly-wed stage. However,  the other day James reminded me that we will always get to choose our attitudes toward our marriage. Our marriage will be what we make it. By God’s grace, I’m trusting for a beautiful, though imperfect, story.

Love Never Fails

You may have noticed I left off verse 12 from out checklist, the verse that begins, “Love never fails.” There is only one Love that never fails, and that Love is Jesus Christ Himself. He is our Model and our Example.

In our earthly relationships, we are going to fail, but that doesn’t mean we should stop striving to love well. As a runner, I’ve always appreciated Paul’s metaphor of life as a race. I think it applies to relationships as well.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV).

Regardless of any past mistakes, let’s press forward and love well the people God has placed in our lives.

Free Download

I hope this check-up list is helpful to you! Maybe you can use it as a dialogue starter between you and your SO. If so, click on the image to download the PDF of the full checklist.

May we all keep short accounts with those we love so we can be quick to root out and keep out any stumbling blocks to our relationships (1 John 2:10).

~ Kristen

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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

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How to Have a Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day might be the one holiday that leaves people feeling polar extremes of warm fuzzy or arctic cold.

Honestly, it’s a holiday that holds a mixed bag for me, too. I had one boyfriend call our relationship quits on Valentine’s Day (necessary but not exceptionally thoughtful). Other years, I’ve celebrated “Galentine’s Day” with my girlfriends instead. This year, I’m focusing on old and new friends alike.

I guess somewhere along the way, I realized that I can celebrate Valentine’s Day, regardless of my relationship status.

Let me say that again.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about our relationship status. 

That’s where we go wrong. We see the heart candies, roses, and those ridiculous large bears and start to daydream of our romantic relationship or lack thereof.

There’s our problem. We make the day about us. Did get a card? Did he remember to send me flowers? Did she get me a gift?

When we make the day about us, we’ll be disappointed every time, because there is usually a gap between expectations and reality. I’m not saying we shouldn’t give gifts or send flowers. Not at all! Those things are wonderful and can be thoughtful expressions of love.

But here’s the kicker: We don’t have to have a specific relationship status to do so.

Valentine’s Day can be a day to celebrate the people we love. 

Maybe that person is a significant other or spouse, and if so, celebrate that special relationship with gusto. Relationships are gifts, and couples should enjoy a day set aside to honor their love.

However, we don’t have to limit ourselves to romantic relationships. Instead, we can expand our horizons so we don’t miss the other people we’re blessed to love. Maybe that person is a father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter. Maybe it’s the teens in our youth group or peers in our Bible study.

Bottom line: Make the day about someone other than you. Cook dinner for your parents. Send flowers to your little sister in college. Bake brownies for the church teens, or host a game night at your house. And if you do have a special someone in your life, find a way to show that person how much you appreciate him or her.

After all, Jesus Himself commanded us to love (John 15:12). He said that we’re to love one another as He loved us—and He didn’t just say He loved us; He showed it by dying on the cross for us (John 3:16). The love God wants us to model isn’t sappy or shallow but sacrificial.

My college Bible professor captured that idea in a simple definition of love. It’s one I haven’t forgotten and hope I never will:

“Love is purposing the good of another person.”

Isn’t that what I Corinthians 13 says? The “love” chapter is all about giving of ourselves selflessly. Love is not “self-seeking” but generous (I Corinthians 13:5 NIV).

This Valentine’s Day week, look outward, not inward, and see how you can shower the people in your life with love. I think you’ll find that when you do, you’ll have the happiest Valentine’s Day yet.

~ Kristen

I’m grateful to DailyPS.com for sharing this post on their website. Visit DailyPS.com for more practical and encouraging ways to live intentionally.

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