1John 4:18 there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.

Psalm 40:4 Blessed is the man who makes Jehovah his trust and does not turn to the proud, nor to those who turn aside to a lie.

I have lately found myself in various degrees of turmoil due to the fact that I just couldn’t seem to set right issues for which I felt completely responsible. I was in such a state of confusion as to what the right action was and what I was to do next that I found myself physically ill. My only aim in conflict was to set right, to re-establish connection, and maintain honor with the people involved. Through prayer and seeking Him, God told me that I have been taking upon myself condemnation and guilt for something that wasn’t working out, feeling ashamed of broken relationships and misguided opinion of myself which was essentially not my fault. I was wearing a robe never designed for me, a robe never fitted for me. The problem arose out of my wanting to maintain peace and connection, at the cost of my own identity. I feel it so important to stress that there are situations where you turn around and say, “Not my monkeys, not my circus.” Be vigilant with what you give your heart to, and what you allow your mind to constantly think of. I will always be a supporter of connections- building, restoring and maintaining them. But I have fallen into the lie that a connection can be maintained by only my efforts. I want to stress that yes, every effort should be taken to love without limits, but never sacrifice who God made you for the cause of someone’s love and opinion. Yes, we make sacrifices, and we compromise our opinions so as to not hurt others by our pushing our ideas on them, but God made you unique, and is constantly calling you to rest in Him, just as you are. He wants us free, not bound by the opinions of others. We often feel the need for praise from people. If you do not know your value, you will attempt to acquire value by doing things for and to people, thinking only recognition and praise is the result of being valued. Praise and recognition is both necessary and important, but not essential. If you have to change the very essence of who you are to make someone else happy, or the only way to have a connection with said person is for you to deny every opinion you have and every fibre of your being has to yield to their version of you, then you find yourself in a manipulative relationship. A relationship that only works when you agree with the other person is in fact not a true connection, but an effort at maintaining control of you. If you are like me, and you constantly feel the need to valiantly pursue people you love, where you should set up boundaries becomes a real challenge. Let me also take this moment to mention that boundaries serve to keep a relationship healthy. Setting up boundaries is not for punishment or restriction of access to your heart. It is vital to protect that which valuable to you, namely your identity.

So how do we Love responsibly? By loving a person where he is at, but not allowing him to be less than or think less than what God has intended for him. If we, out of love, always try to validate other people in order to not offend, we have to then submit to their opinion, which is inferior to what God is saying, allowing ourselves to agree with the lie they are saying about themselves. Out of believing lies of inferiority and insufficiency sprouts the need for constant validation. Our perspectives are always limited…..and subjective. We love incompletely because we are too aware of the things we think we need in order to feel fulfilled, and then fear drives us to compensate, by demanding certain things from other people. This leads to strife and contention. The one thing that holds us back from loving wholly and completely is fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of inadequacy, fear of being shamed in front of others. Bottom line? Fear is debilitating. It fuels dissatisfaction and feeds the hungry monsters that are anger and disappointment. I think so many times we create conflict and engage in arguments thinking it could result in peace, that fighting and having our say would smooth out the wrinkles of the situation. Although I’m an ardent believer in conflict resolution I am severely opposed to strife and fighting. Encouraging conflict creates an atmosphere conducive to manipulation and disempowerment. Getting angry at someone will never accomplish anything good. I’ve many times in my life felt the need to inform people that pointing out my mistakes won’t miraculously make me change my ways. Awareness of sin doesn’t necessarily eradicate it from our lives. James 1:20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. We think annoyance with sin in people does the work of the Word in their lives. Just discern whether you are in fact utilising the Word of God or your own words. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. When we approach unsuspecting people with a mouth-full we intend to lavish on them, it is most certainly due to a desire to be heard or acknowledged. James 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. Wanting to be heard is totally acceptable, but you also need to be able to truly listen to and hear what the other person is saying, without feeling the need to just agree in an attempt to maintain peace. Listen to understand and move forward from there, allow yourself to love responsibly by loving the way God intended, without manipulation and intimidation. Getting rid of fear is only way to love perfectly. That is accountability, to operate in love with responsibility.