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Rule #1

“Plank and speck,” as my brother likes to say. Get the dang plank out of your own eye before you start pointing out the speck in the other person’s eye. Figure this out early in a relationship. It will save you a heck of a lot of trouble later on.

Rule #2

You who judge do the same things. It’s straight out of the Bible, people. Don’t go around judging others. You yourself have done the same sorts of things. And don’t deny it. Remember that God sees your heart and the motives of your heart.

Rule #3

Pay attention to “triggers,” as I like to call them. We all have emotional baggage and memories that can get set off. Something someone says or does can set those triggers off. Be aware.

Rule #4

Don’t be dating someone who is not a Christian or is a very carnal Christian. Believe me, when the storms of life come, you want someone by your side who is as strong in Christ as you are. It will be a comfort to you if they are, and a terrible wasteland if they’re not.

Rule #5

Judge a tree by its fruit. Good trees bear good fruit, and bad trees bear bad fruit. Good things will come from those with good hearts centered on God. And bad things will come from a heart that is not set on God. Want to know who a person is? Pay attention to the fruit of their lives.

Rule #6

God has to be your All in All. That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the relationship, love the person, or take delight in it all. It just means that God needs to be the center. The other person cannot be an idol. Let God be your All in All. The other person cannot be that for you.

Rule #7

Be patient, forgiving, gentle, and compassionate. Fruit of the Spirit, people. Fruit of the spirit.

Rule #8

Don’t ignore problems in your relationship. Ignoring them won’t make them go away. If you’ve got a problem with something, bring it up in a way pleasing to God, get it out in the open, and deal with it. Suppressing feelings or challenges is THE ABSOLUTE WORST THING YOU COULD DO. It will make you resentful, will just make the problem bigger, and will poison the relationship.

Rule #9

Bad company corrupts good character. Who are you hanging out with, and who is your significant other hanging out with? Do they have toxic people in their lives? Do you? Be around people who will love you, support you, and build you up.

Rule #10

Forgive yourself, and them. I have a tough time with this because I am a perfectionist. I hold myself to impossibly high standards. Not that high standards are a bad thing. In many instances they can be a very good thing–essential, in fact. But forgive yourself when you speak a word you regret, have an action that you realize is not okay, or realize that your heart is not wholly right before God. And forgive them. Heck, they’re not perfect. Jesus is the only Man who was and is ever perfect. Jesus is your fairy-tale prince. The human guy is only his second-hand man in charge of loving you.

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