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6 Universal Signs of a Healthy Relationship

by Steve Arterburn

Leo Tolstoy opened his famous story Anna Karenina with one of the most quoted lines in literature: Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Let’s think a little about that. Is it true? Are all happy families alike?

And if it is true (Tolstoy was, after all, one of the most astute students of human nature who ever lived), then does that mean every healthy relationship of any kind is the same as any other of that same kind? Does it mean that a healthy relationship between any particular father and son is substantially the same as any other between a father and son? Are the dynamics inherent in a healthy relationship between a husband and wife essentially equal to the same sort experienced between any other happily married couple?

Is love really the same, wherever it manifests?

I think it is. As individual people, we can make a mess of our lives and relationships in ways so unique to us personally that no one could possibly imitate or duplicate. I can manipulate my child, or undermine my wife’s confidence, in a way that is inimitable.

No one can insult me like my own father; no one can hurt me like my own mother. No one can get under one’s skin like her sibling. No one can disappoint a parent like his or her child.

We dysfunction as we live—as separate, distinct individuals.

And yet, we can rejoice! For we love as God loves us. Filled with the love of the Lord, we love others in the only way love ever acts.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4–7)

That is true for every kind of love, between every kind of person. And that prompts us to look at the universal signs of a healthy relationship.

And that is
As I See It
Roy A. Lamont

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