Video: In relationships you can choose or intimacy or control, but not bothDec 17, 2021
When there is no trust, people will not be vulnerable with each other. They will not be honest about their own weaknesses— or the others’ strengths. And, they will not exchange ideas freely.
The Bible tells us “perfect love casts out fear.”
If people don’t feel safe, they will not grant the gift of trust. In fact, people often hide in relationships for fear that they’ll be punished in some way. Whereas the punishment might not come in the form of a spanking or a “time out” as it does when we're kids, most of us can point to multiple scenarios in which we said or did something that others didn’t approve of.
The result was:
- They screamed at us
- They launched a character assault + assassination
- They “iced” us, relationally shunned us, & inflicted emotional harm
- They went passive-aggressive, using covert methods of sniping us
- They shamed or devalued us, making us feel unimportant
That’s the unhealthy side of conflict in action. And it kills intimacy and trust.
Whereas you know people who react in those unhealthy ways, you also know people who get it right. And it’s not because they’re pushovers. Rather, they have a strong sense of self and an undying affection for you.
You freely tell them anything— even things you disagree about, things they’ve done to hurt you, or ways in which you've dishonored them. The two of you may cry together, you may have a tough conversation, you may feel some pain. But you’re not afraid that you’ll be relationally punished by them.
Because true love erases that notion of punishment. True love, the Kingdom of God kind of love, works for restoration and wholeness. True love builds— and enhances— trust.
Sure, there may be consequences to bear when trust is broken (remember the sowing & reaping concept), but true relationship trumps punishment and vindictive behaviors every time.
Now, disagreement can only be expressed when people trust each other— and know that the other(s) is (are) committed to the relationship. People who freeze others out, refuse to listen to counterpoints, and assume they are always right are simply weak— regardless of how successful or strong they may appear on the surface.
As such, true harmony is never achieved. Instead, an artificial peace masquerades across the surface of the group’s relationships. False “friendships” prevail.
That leads us to the next observation. Let’s frame it in the form of a question.
Why do people seek to “punish” others when conflict happens?
Answer: Control. Some people would rather control the relationship rather than embrace the natural tension of healthy conflict.
The bottom line is this, though: In any relationship you can choose intimacy (trust) or control, but you can’t have both. That is, you can move with the pull of the rubber band or you can hold your position.
What's this thing called intimacy?
It’s being fully known, totally accepted, and radically embraced or who you are.
And, yes, there are different degrees of it—
- Married couples (should) experience a deeper level of intimacy than friends.
- Close friends experience a radically different sort of intimacy than acquaintances.
- Brothers and sisters connect in ways even close friends don’t.
In each of these instances, though, we can embrace the appropriate level of intimacy for that environment or we can control the relationship. The problem is… well… you can’t do both. You can’t walk in intimacy and control at the same time.
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