A study of friendship teaches us that female companionship counters so many of the negative aspects of life, keeps you healthy, and may even add years to your life—it is incredibly important to identify “Relationship Busters” and provide an antidote for them to prevent injurious or unwanted effects.
The most important element in the fight against Relationship Busters is to promote the best environment possible for the growth of biblical relationships. The book of John teaches that
- Loving others is a visual illustration of our discipleship (13:34-35).
- Christians exemplify that they are friends with Christ when they love one another (15:14).
- Christians are to love one another as Christ loved them (15:12).
- Loving one another is a command, not a suggestion, for Christians (15:17).
A variety of relationship busters can hinder the flourishing of love John speaks of, including:
The Discontent Buster
The Discontent Buster lives life in the rear view mirror. It might be called the "if only" Relationship Buster because it lives on memories of other friendships and past experiences. It damages existing relationships by its continual reference to other, "more prosperous" relationships or possessing unrealistic expectations from current ones. An effective Antidote to this Relationship Buster is to thank God for precious memories while concentrating on nurturing the current relationships He provides (Eph. 5:20; Phil. 3:13; 1 Thess. 5:18).
The Superiority Buster
The Superiority Buster is a real love-choker, often turning friendships into thickets of fighting and competition. The presence of this Relationship Buster creates an environment directly opposite of the agape love commanded by God that challenges you to accept your friend exactly as she is, forgive and forget unintentional slights, place no demands on the friendship, and allow the will rather than the emotions to control it. A fancy name for selfishness, the Superiority Buster quickly establishes itself as the center of the relationship and demands to be in control. A successful Antidote involves sowing the Others Builder in the relationship (Prov. 13:10; Gal. 5:15, 19-25; Phil. 2:3; James 3:16).
The Silence Buster
The Silence Buster is one of the most difficult to eradicate because when one friend "shuts down" it is literally impossible to correct the situation. Should this Relationship Buster invade, the silence that falls over the friendship is like the silence of a tomb. The residual effect is often a suppression of one’s feelings that may eventually erupt in an explosion. A valuable Antidote is to communicate frequently and temper the tone, as well as the choice of words carefully. Should disagreements arise, refuse to remain angry and be willing to admit your contribution to the conflict (Prov., 25:11, 26:20, 31: 26; Eph. 4:15, 25-32).
The Disgruntled Buster
The Disgruntled Buster seeks to cultivate a new relationship by destroying an existing one. This Buster whispers slanderous comments about existing friends, suggests that she can best fulfill your friendship needs, and insinuates that it is permissible to abort a long-established friendship for a new one with her. While it is important to pursue new friendships, it is not appropriate for you to undermine deeply rooted friendship to do so. An efficient Antidote for this Buster includes refusing to discredit an existing friendship, purposing to "love at all times," seeking to bear your friend’s burdens, doing things which are particularly pleasing to her, and concentrating on her positive qualities rather than her weaknesses (Ps. 101:5; Prov. 6:19, 17:17; Gal. 6:2, 10; Phil. 4:8, 9).
The Be Reasonable Do It My Way Buster
The Be Reasonable Do It My Way Buster offers a sharp, immediate response to anything she disagrees with. A pro at conflict, it is amazing that so many ugly words can spew forth from her lips if she is provoked. When she assumes this stance, engaging in discussion with her is futile since she is always right. An effectual Antidote requires prayer on your part so that the words of your mouth and the meditations of your heart are acceptable to the Lord. Filling your mind with God’s Word so that your responses are His responses, and being willing to graciously and gently speak the truth in love insure that you are not providing ammunition that keeps a conflict in momentum (Ps. 19:14, 39:1, 49:3, 119:11; Prov. 4:23-24, 10:20, 12:18, 15:2, 18:21, 21:23, 23:7, 25:21, 31:26; Matt. 12:33-37; Luke 6:45; Eph. 4:14; Col. 3:16; James 1:27-28, 3:6-10).
You Are My Friend When I Need You Buster
You Are My Friend When I Need You Buster lies dormant for long periods and then emerges full-grown when it desires to assert itself. Generating from the consumer mind-set of the twenty-first century, this Buster extracts from the friendship what she desires then allows it to rest latent until another need arises. As with the Superiority Buster, selfishness is its primary source. Eradication includes choosing to love your friend as yourself, being more concerned about her needs than yours, and praying for a heart that desires to honor others (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 5:43; Mark 12:33; Rom. 2:6-8, 12:10, 13:7; Phil. 2:3-4; Heb. 13:1; 2 Peter 1:7-11).
“Kelsey’s Korner” paints a word portrait of Jealousy, the Green-Eyed Buster. A study of Michal, David’s wife, is a poignant remainder of the devastating effects of this Relationship Buster (2 Sam. 6:12-16)!
Regardless of the appearance of these Relationship Busters, all generate from the same source—pride, the first of the six things that the Lord hates (Prov. 6:1). Pride cultivates disharmony in a relationship while humility, the opposite of pride, generates an atmosphere of peace and harmony. The most effective time to eradicate Relationship Busters is when they are young, tender, and just beginning to surface. You can only do this in the Lord’s strength (Phil. 4:13). As James 4:6, a spiritual Relationship Buster Antidote, is applied to the invading Busters, your Friendships have the potential of producing the type of relationship that John describes!
Jealousy, the Green-Eyed Buster
Jealousy is a cancer. Often diminutive in its beginnings, it grows unnoticed, taking root and silently spreading into our hearts, our minds, and our mouths. Despite our attempts as Christian women to live “clean lives” separated from the toxicity of the world around us, this disease continues to flourish in our homes and churches. We have all felt it—that hot flare that burns in our chest when we see or hear about someone who has something we don’t (but desperately want!). If left unchecked, this flame of jealousy will continue to burn, leaving ash and bitterness in place of life and joy. So what is it that we yearn for? A relationship? The ability to bear children? Physical health or beauty? Often, the object of desire itself is innocent and good, but the fitful longing yields sin. Covetousness is at the heart of jealousy. Here are some antidotes for recognizing these sinful tendencies and submitting them to the Lord:
- Jealousy often exposes hidden heart idols. When we feel that burning in our hearts toward how effortlessly slim our friend is or our neighbor who can afford to “keep up with the Joneses”, we can often trace the desires back to an idol ruling and reigning in our hearts. When you feel jealous, take time to examine your heart. Pray for the Lord’s help as you dethrone and depower the idol (1 Cor. 10:13).
- Jealousy reveals a source of discontentment. One of the reasons jealousy so often goes undetected is because it typically springs from a desire for good things: a family, security, health—even spiritual maturity! But the anxious yearning and unceasing craving toward these good things reveals a lack of contentment. When we find discontentment in our hearts, purge it with truths from God’s word: God is good and gives good things to His children (Matt. 7:7-11). If God has not given us “X”, we can know it is for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). His power is made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9-10). God is most glorified when our desires are found in Him (Deut. 6:4-9).
- Unchecked jealousy breeds bitterness. Do you find yourself angry at God for withholding something from you? Is it hard to be around a friend who has what you want? Don’t let jealousy brew—it creates rot in the bones (Prov. 14:30).
- Learn to be honest about your struggles. Begin with admitting your sin to yourself, then to God. Once you have sought reconciliation with your Creator, seek forgiveness and accountability with trusted believers around you. This part can be difficult because we often worry that if we reveal our jealous tendencies to others, they will: think less of us, laugh at our (sometimes) embarrassing longings, or triumph over us in their hearts if they have what we don’t have. These concerns, however, are often unfounded. Instead, lean on the body of Christ for support and encouragement, putting away any fear of rejection or embarrassment. Honesty with others about our struggle with jealousy can be challenging, but it helps defeat pride, brings comfort to our souls, and gives us strength to continue fighting our sins.
- Use your experience to minister to others. Once you have confessed your struggles to the Lord and He has begun His good work of freeing you from the bonds of this sin, use the lessons He is teaching you to help others in the shackles of covetousness and pride. Be gentle, patient, and loving, remembering the pain and longing you felt when you were in their place.
Uncovering and eliminating jealousy from our lives is a lifelong challenge that even the most Christ-like among us will occasionally deal with. But we have a perfect example to look to—Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees and continue running the race that God has set before you (Heb. 12)!
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God has said, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, who God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith. This was to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins” (Romans 3:23-25).
Therefore, I may boldly say, “Because of Jesus, guilt and the fear of punishment no longer weigh me down.”
Blessings on your day as you focus on making your house a home!