You’ve probably heard this from your parents: “You are the company you keep.”
We have probably found that these words ring true to this day. Our friends are a direct reflection of ourselves – our interests, our cares, our concerns, our joys, our sorrows, our thoughts, our feelings… a little of us is a little of them. But what we may not have realized is that our friends are also a reflection of how we treat them.
When someone becomes our friend, they did not enter into a binding contract that states, “I will never hurt you.” Because if someone is your friend, sooner or later… they will. And while it may not have been their intent, it will hurt. Even more so because that person is someone you consider your friend. But we’ve also heard the saying, “To have a friend you must be a friend.” So when you enter into a situation in which you’ve been hurt, ask yourself: “Was I being a friend too?”
It’s inevitable that someone we are close to will hurt us. And they will hurt us because we have let them into that vulnerable part in us that is able to be injured. But as hard as it is to be in that difficult moment, try to consider why that person may have done it. When a friend has betrayed you, there was something happening within them that they felt they could not share. This “secret space” is where true intentions lie. Your friend may have had selfish intentions and did something to hurt you, but were you being a person that they could confide in? Were you open with compassion and understanding? Did you remain non-judgmental? Although we did not enter into a covenant that stated no person will ever hurt each other, we did enter into an agreement that you both will always care for each other and want the best for one another.
As a friend, we have to remove judgement from our eyes – we aren’t perfect beings and we can’t expect our friends to be either (remember, they’re REFLECTIONS of us… not caricatures). If we want to be good friends we must remain faithful and trustworthy, no matter what the other person brings to us. We must remain “real”, in which we can openly state what will bring about the betterment for the other person TO the other person. The catch? We must be able to accept the same kind of advice for ourselves right back.
A friendship isn’t fool proof and two strangers never enter into this relationship as perfect people. There must be a commitment there to learn from one another and our mistakes without fear and judgement. So today, let’s practice being THAT friend… that someone can be open and honest with no matter what.
Visit the Advice4Life website here.
Abuse. Such a hard concept to even wrap our heads around. The most awful part is that there’s so many forms of it. Physical… Verbal… Emotional… It always starts with one and intertwines with the rest. So how can we even begin to expect someone to be able to “deal” with it?
When someone loves you, they will never intentionally hurt you. They will never go out of their way to prove a point so strongly that they lay hands on you or say something that cuts deeply. The Bible says, “Perfect love casts out fear”. Your relationship with another person should be your safe place, your haven, your harbor. If you feel you are being abused, never chalk it up to your imagination. There are lines that should never be crossed and actions that you should never allow.
Be weary of individuals who apologize and say they have changed. They may go as far as to put on airs or claim they have found the way of God. You need to know that a person has to WANT to change in order to make a change. You see, people conform themselves to fit into a certain expectation, at a certain time, in a certain place. What happens when they’re taken from that environment? What happens when they’re taken out of the church? Out of the public eye? What do they do? When someone surrenders their heart to the Lord, that is when the real change will occur.
The person abusing you probably knows that you’re feeling guilty, alone and scared. They will take those feelings and use them to their advantage. You, yourself, need a willingness to change. The will to stay strong against what is out to defeat you. This strength will come from within. But how do you access it? Give your heart to the Lord. Your experiences have undoubtedly hardened you. But if you remember to keep your heart open to God, He will surely minister you and lead you in the way of safety and freedom. Renew your mind and your heart and the transformation will occur.
Listen to the podcast here.
If you’re anything like me, than your favorite holiday is Halloween. It’s that one night a year when you can be absolutely anyone you want to be. I’ve been a witch, an ice cream cone, a princess, a teenager succumbed to a fate of fighting to the death with other youths…and a magical nanny. I’m in character for about 24 hours and when that sun comes up, I’m Kristina again. It’s great fun and I can’t be the only one who thinks so. Because then why would masks even exist?
It all boils down to one question, once that masks comes off… do you like who’s behind it? Let’s explore the concept of masks. In the medical field, masks are actually a negative thing. When you mask an issue in the hospital, you’re only treating the symptom but have no clue what the real problem is. It’s the same in our relationships, we’re only looking at something or someone at face-level.
The reason we like masks so much is that we can make ourselves out to be whatever we want to be. We can be really sweet, maybe we can like football, maybe we go to church every day. This is all well and good, but we need to be aware of our own masks. Meaning, we need to realize when we’re putting it on, especially for other people. And that’s why we have mirrors.
We all know what mirrors do in real life. Metaphorically, people can be the exact same way. When we put on a mask, it’s because we don’t want to see who we really are. We don’t want to deal with our blemishes. But that’s why we have family, friends, and significant others. To help us see our real selves.
So imagine yourself looking into a mirror with a mask on. It’s one of those really pretty, masquerade ones with glitter and gold trim You look great! Now imagine yourself taking it off… do you like what you see? Maybe that mask was hiding a small pimple on your cheek. Aren’t you glad you can see it now so you can treat it properly before it becomes a major zit? When we remove our masks for other people, we are indicating a sense of trust to the other person. That person in turn can help us see our true selves. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly… and when it comes to our blemishes, they’re right there to help us figure them out. So let’s look into our mirrors, mask free today. Let’s be our true and authentic selves, the self that God calls us to be. And if you get the chance to be someone else’s mirror, be kind. Everyone needs a safe place when they’re exposed.
Listen to the Advice4Life podcast all about masks here.
Well, there we go. We’ve fallen in love and can’t seem to get up. We spent so long chasing love and now it’s here, smack dab in front of your face. Everything’s great! Your love is perfect and there’s nothing else you could ask for. But what’s this? What is this feeling of apprehension buried deep in your heart? Could that be fear? Fear of losing someone? Fear of starting at square one all over again? But of course you don’t want to do that…
So what do you do?
As a human being, when we fear we may lose something, we try our hardest to hold on to it by any means. Even if our actions go far beyond what our heart and head tells us. But it’s SO important to listen to that voice coming from within. It’s our tendency to jump into things simply because it’s what we want to do. We lack the desire to think, to feel, we just DO. But having a successful and healthy relationship takes a certain level of thoughtfulness, skillfulness, and consideration. After all, nothing of value comes easily.
When we are building a relationship, we don’t jump from one stage to another, thinking “Well what could go wrong?” We’re (especially females) are so concerned with letting too much time go by, but have you really taken the time to cover all the bases in each stage of the relationship? The Bible says, “Let patience have its perfect work.” We must stop to think and ask ourselves, are we ready to move to the next level?
When the excitement of a new relationship fades away, what do you have? Did you take the time to build a foundation of commitment and trust? Did you furnish it with love? Did you decorate the walls with memories? Has their heart become your home?
Really taking your time is a difficult thing to do, especially when all you want is to find THE ONE. When you believe you have found that one person, take the time to strengthen your relationship. When you see something valuable, put in the work to get it. Once it’s yours, it’ll be guaranteed to be yours forever.
Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here.
Would you marry you? Are you a you that you want to be? These are questions that we must constantly ask ourselves to keep us in check when we are in relationships with one another.
But why do we need to keep ourselves in check? Because we are in “the keeping”. When you’re in “the hunting”, you can make yourself out to be whoever you want to be, but when you’re working on keeping someone… are you really putting in that work?
When you decide to be in a relationship or a marriage, God has entrusted you with one of his most precious creatures – another human being. There’s a certain way we have to respond to this responsibility and it’s to accept this trust and respond with gratefulness. Why wouldn’t we be thankful for a lifelong companion?
But we have certain responsibilities when it comes to this acceptance. For starters, we have to show up in the relationship. We have to be present, be aware, be conscious of what’s going on, where and when. When we’re working on “keeping” another person, our biggest task is putting in effort. When you’re in the gym, do you not give it your all? Are you not pushing yourself to the limit, expanding your lungs, stretching your muscle to become a stronger person? It’s not different when you are in love with someone. You must constantly be in practice of pushing yourself and encouraging yourself to be better.
How do you make yourself better? Trace the behaviors of your relationship. What are you triggers? What are your feelings? What are you intentions? What are your expectations? Remember to keep all of these realistic and fair. Realistic for yourself and your partner. Fair to yourself and fair to your partner. Another important point to remember is the importance of dialogue. Is something bothering you? Say it. The Bible says, “Through assumption comes nothing but strife,” without dialogue comes nothing but trouble. Be simple, be clear, be succinct, be kind. Be a you that you would want to be with.
Listen to the Advice4Life podcast: http://advice4life.podbean.com/e/the-awareness-wheel-why-do-i-have-to-understand-how-my-feelings/
Look across that breakfast table…
Look at your partner, do you remember the first time they asked, “Want to hang out?” Remember the first time you smiled and said, “I’d like that.”? That fluttery feeling, you felt, the smile that never seemed to leave your face even when they weren’t around, the constant thoughts of them that kept you distracted from your day to day activities. There was such magic in the air you could almost taste it.
Al and Aisha Laws address a very important topic that many couples have struggled with for decades… how do you keep that spark? The answer is very simple really, be conscious. Be conscious of how you feel, what you’re thinking, and what you’re doing. Be PRESENT in the relationship.
Now think back to that time your relationship was just budding. Ladies, remember the way you would take time to make sure your makeup was perfect? Fellas, remember the way you made sure you were on your sweetest behavior? It’s important to bring those elements into your relationship regularly, even after years of being together. Being in a relationship is work and most of that work is remembering. Now I’m not just talking about remembering anniversary dates (which is also VERY important), but remembering how you felt in the very beginning. Remembering that this is the person that you prayed for each and every day. Remembering how you felt when you found out they wanted you too.
A great way to keep the spark is having regular date nights. It’s so easy to forget to manifest love when the time you’re spending with your partner is bogged down with talk of bills, what the kids are doing… or even planning a wedding! Setting aside the time to lay down agendas and just sit and be with each other is a powerful way to keep the magic alive. Aisha said it best, “Turn off the mommy and turn on the honey.”
Now, there’s a common misconception that true love comes solely from the spiritual aspect. While spirituality is the most important component; when you’re in love, it’s a person’s holistic well being that must be your priority. This is why physical attributes also have an effect on the dynamic of the relationship. Take pride in how you look to your partner, but don’t let it overcome you. Every once in a while, take time to adorn yourself… making yourself just as beautiful as your partner believes you are on the inside. And when you see your partner making the effort to dress up or making healthy changes, appreciate it. We all know what hard work is, and saying no to a cheeseburger is the hardest of them all.
The point is, we expend so much energy in the hunt, but our focus and our love should be manifested in the keeping. Once you’re in the love relationship, that’s where the real work starts. Happy keeping!
Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here: http://advice4life.podbean.com/e/the-awareness-wheel-women-on-the-hunt-why-your-appearance-matter-in-your-present-relationship/
Responsibility. We all know we have them. We have them at home, we have them at school, we have them at work, and we also have them… in our relationships. Sure, we hate taking out the trash, we don’t really feel like going to that morning meeting, we’re too tired to finish that homework. But what seems to be the hardest responsibility of all? It’s the basic responsibility to love someone else fully and wholeheartedly.
This essentially isn’t complicated at all. We see someone, we like them, we date them, we love them, and the rest is history. So how do we manage to botch this system up? We have these things called feelings. And in these feelings we have something called fear, hurt, mistrust. And there, ladies and gentlemen, is why we shy away from our primary responsibilities to one another.
This isn’t entirely our own fault. History and society has conditioned men and women to be a certain way and act a certain way – despite any emotion that is fighting its way to come out. Men have been conditioned to believe that it is an honor to have many women at their disposal. Women have been conditioned to be prepared for hurt. But in reality, men have a responsibility to honor the woman God has given them in their lives. Women have the responsibility to submit – submit their entire heart to the man she loves.
Of course, it doesn’t always pan out the way we planned. Someone is bound to hurt someone else and we carry those feelings with us whether we like to or not. So we shy away from our responsibilities in a relationship. Men put up a front and women put up a guard – doing an injustice to ourselves in prohibiting ourselves to experience the love God intends for us.
And here are just a few pointers if you’re thinking that all this responsibility isn’t really your thing:
You don’t have to think of this as a chore. When you choose to love someone, accept that you love them, you begin to respond naturally in love. Always choose a place of love.
If you fear vulnerability, think of giving yourself to God, rather than another person. When you truly believe that this is the life that God intends for you, your strength will come from Him in times of need. He will refortify any faltering faith you may have had in your partner.
Be committed to love, no matter how what your partner does. Don’t be quick to get angry, just as the Bible says. Always respond from a place of love.
Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here: http://advice4life.podbean.com/
How many of us have sat and thought about what the perfect relationship entails? How many of us have “good communication” at the top of the list?
Now how many of us know what good communication really is?
Good communication is being able to share thoughts and feelings in a non-injurious way. Do we feel like we can truly do this in our relationships? Or do we take on the thoughts and feelings of our partner? Do we believe they are our own?
Beware of co-dependency in a relationship. Yes, when we decide to share our lives with someone we are making the decision to become one. But does that mean we should lay down our autonomy?
Co-dependent relationships can be categorized as group think. We don’t feel safe or empowered enough to share your own thoughts and feelings that you take on the thoughts and feelings of the partner who has the dominant personality.
Now when we are co-dependent, we are joining out partners around their feelings, but it’s at the expense of our own. On the other hand, the dominant figure believes they are saving or maintaining the partner because they feel that they are right. A lot of this is unintentional, but we still need to keep a watchful eye so as to avoid having our relationships morph.
Do not bring your relationship into a level of co-dependency. Do not accept excuses. Do not make up excuses for how individuals are or for what they do. Don’t feel like it is your duty to protect or save them. It is impossible for you to maintain your own life when you become someone else’s life thread. Independence in thought and your ability share in an effective way will be your true power.
Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here: http://advice4life.podbean.com/
One of the most helpful and effective things you can do in a relationship is to address how you feel. We live in a world where we are almost forced to mask how we really feel. Whether it is in the workplace or at school, we are expected to hold ourselves together in a way that is acceptable to everyone else. But how does that affect you? How does that affect the people you’re close to?
We need to start getting in the practice of knowing what we feel and expressing it, without shame or fear of judgement. We are so conditioned to hold things in that we put ourselves in a compromising situation (we’re like a sponge, we can only hold so much in at a given time) as well as present our partners with a riddle we are forcing them to solve on their own.
When we are happy, don’t we want people to know we’re happy? So why wouldn’t we want people to understand when we are hurt? Lonely? Disappointed. When we are in a relationship, these emotions must be brought to light to be able to move forward or take the next step. We all know it’s impossible to stay 100% ecstatic about life all day every day, so we might as well be honest about what takes us away from that level.
When you address how you feel and communicate just that, you are opening a window to your partner. All of a sudden, they know why you lashed out or why you shut down. In turn, when feelings are being share with you, don’t discount them. Even if you don’t think that you were being defensive or degrading or whatever it may be, this is the feeling that your partner has. They owned that they were feeling hurt or betrayed, so you need to own what you did to get them there.
Feelings are powerful and they are an even more powerful tool. Don’t neglect the effect that they can have on the health of your relationship.
Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here: http://advice4life.podbean.com/e/the-awareness-wheel-understanding-your-process/
It’s okay to be angry. The Bible even tells us so. But sometimes we think anger will do something that it won’t.
Let’s look at the reasons that we get angry in our relationships with other people. Can you think of the last time you were angry with someone you love? What happened? In other posts, we talked about the importance of being open and allowing yourself to be vulnerable to another person. This experience lends itself to a level of fear. Circling back to the Awareness Wheel, our intention may be to “protect”, because what we feel is “fear” and we will, oftentimes, behave in “anger”.
As human beings, we immediately default to being angry. We feel like it gives us some kind of upper hand or power. It’s what we go to when we can’t identify that we feel hurt, disappointed or afraid. But in reality, anger is a deceptive feeling. It doesn’t accomplish what we think it’s going to accomplish. To act out in anger is to take the easy way out.
So the next time we feel ourselves getting angry, take a minute to really figure out why we feel that way and how we got there in the first place. Once we’re able to understand ourselves, we can start to create a better outcome.
Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here: http://advice4life.podbean.com/