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  • Larissa Bell

Staying in Love - A Valentine’s Day Special for All Ladies

By Larissa Bell

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3

Before all the single ladies click delete — hold on! Yes, we are near Valentine’s Day, the time when many couples celebrate romantic love, but I wanted to write something applicable to all of us ladies — no matter what stage of life we are in. Our relationships with God, friends, and spouses have some similarities in how they stay healthy and thrive. So read on!


Communication

Healthy and consistent communication is needed to help any relationship thrive. If you’ve ever read the Five Love Languages (highly recommend this book), you’ll know that communication is more than just talking to each other. The words we speak to others are important, but we also communicate to others with our attitudes, actions, non-verbal cues, and overall countenance. Are you a “Debby-downer” or self-absorbed “Karen” in your relationships? I Corinthians 13:5 tells us that charity (agape love) doesn’t behave unseemly, seeks not her own, and isn’t easily provoked. Are you a contentious, critical, or fault-finding friend or spouse (Proverbs 21:19, 27:15)?

You are tearing that relationship apart word by word.

Are you gossiping or being a busybody (I Tim 5:13)? “My [sisters], these things ought not so to be” (James 3:10)!


Those character traits are not ones God wants us to use as we communicate with others, especially with those who may be turned off from having a close personal relationship with God from our undisciplined tongues and poor example of His grace and love. God’s blood-bought children have innumerable blessings, encouraging promises, unconditional love, and the hope of heaven when they die. So, we need to communicate like it!


In Acts 2:25-28, Paul spoke from Psalms 16 in his message to the Jews and reminded us that the Lord is always before us, we can rejoice, and our tongues can be glad because our souls will not be left in hell. James 3 is a whole chapter on the wise and powerful use of the tongue, and there are many passages throughout the Bible about God’s desire for us to be positive communicators by encouraging one another, building up each other, and pursuing peace with all men (and women and your children). If this is an area you struggle with, I encourage you to do a word study on the tongue and/or conversation (King James Bible Dictionary - Strongs Number - G391) in the Bible.


May you desire, like I do, to have your “speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).


Anticipation

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov 29:18) and “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick” (Prov 13:12) come to mind when I think about the importance of anticipation or hope in a relationship. All relationships go through ups and downs. All experience both dry and flourishing times. During the harder times, it can be challenging to have faith that God is working things for our good. We may even pull away from people who can help encourage and support us during those times. I believe it is important as friends and parents and spouses to be aware of loved ones who may start to be distant or withdrawn.


Are your children spending more time alone in their bedrooms than with family? Are your friends leaving right after church and not fellowshipping? Check on them! Spiritually, you can encourage relationships with each other by intentionally reaching out to communicate. You can help build excitement for special services or ministry functions, or you may even want to suggest reading a devotional book together to look forward to gathering and talking about what God showed you both in your studies.


From an earthly perspective, plan game nights, nature walks, family vacations, and other activities to have something inspiring when the doldrums of daily life hit — kid’s homework, laundry, dishes, bill paying, (put your least favorite adulting responsibility here). There is a two-fold effect when we do this. There’s the excitement or fun from the activity, but also the discussions and plans with family members and friends leading up to the activity that lets them know that you value them and want to spend time with them. For people whose love language is quality time, often just talking about quality time together gives them security, and they feel loved.


For dating or married ladies, I’d like to share some advice I was given as a newlywed: make time for each other even after the kids come and keep the friendship with your spouse a top priority even when life gets busy.

I firmly believe heeding this advice and planning little getaways here and there with just the two of us every year has been a significant part of why my husband and I are still very happily married and more in love every day after eighteen years. Most of the time we plan far in advance and enjoy the anticipation of getting away with each other. Life’s busyness, stresses, and challenges seem more bearable when we have days together with no responsibilities or schedule to look forward to.


Proper Human Diet

Hear me out. Did you know that over 80% (some studies say 95%) of the body’s serotonin (a feel-good hormone that helps with mood, sleep, and pain) is produced in the gut? Serotonin uptake in the brain is negatively affected by diets high in processed foods, refined sugars, carbohydrate intake, and stress. (Info in link below.)


If you don’t believe that our diets can affect relationships, think about “hangry” people in the morning after their cereal or donut wears off who snap at people (or kids). Or the cravings you must calm with chocolate or salty snacks to be civil or nice. Not having discipline or the right type of foods in our diet can also lead to obesity, depression and anxiety, and chronic illness making physical movement and serving in ministries difficult and can strain relationships as well.


I could talk for hours about this but will end with a few thoughts that God showed me several years ago when I sought His wisdom in this area (Jeremiah 33:3): Our bodies are not our own if we have trusted Christ as our Savior (I Corinthians 6:20). Our bodies are the temple of God (I Corinthians 3:16). God asks us to steward what He has given us — time, talents, finances, children, relationships, and, I believe, our bodies and health; we will reap what we sow (I Corinthians 4:2; 9:23-27, Galatians 6:7-10).


This is NOT about going on a diet or losing weight (there are a lot of unhealthy skinny people!), but rather seeking what is needful for the body and bringing fleshly desires into subjection to help our relationships be God-honoring, healthy, and different from the world.

(Some resources I highly recommend are Why We Get Sick by Dr. Ben Bikman and the Weight on the Lord Workbook by Reformers Unanimous, Int.)


Just remember- God is able to give you the grace you need, and you can do all things through Christ! (II Corinthians 9:8, Philippians 4:13)
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