HOW TO LOVE LIKE JESUS By Drs. Les and Leslie ParrottAugust 8, 2018

HOW TO LOVE LIKE JESUS By August 8, 2018

#ForgottenThatMarriageIsSpiritLed #LoveLikeJesus

“Observe how Christ loved us. Love like that.” – Ephesians 5:2

Loving like Jesus is the best way to live. When we love like Him, we can step outside ourselves and clearly see our loved ones and their needs. We can shed layers of selfishness, resentment, anxiety, pettiness, and entitlement. Most of all, we can rise above our human imperfections and step into transcendent love.

Jesus’s model of love challenges us to stop settling for anything less than “the most excellent way.” If you want to love like Jesus, read on.

CAN ANYONE REALLY LOVE LIKE JESUS?

When it comes to love, Jesus raised the bar astronomically. He teaches us to love our enemies, turn the other cheek, and walk the extra mile. To our human minds, that sounds completely outrageous–but that’s the point.

If we want to love like Jesus, we have to open our hearts and our minds. We need to be able to fully utilize our emotion, reason, thoughts, and feelings. We can’t bring perfect love into our imperfect lives without this kind of complete vulnerability.

Why? Because opening your heart allows love to change your mind. When Jesus touches your heart, your mind can follow suit and be completely transformed. Allowing your heart into the conversation will revolutionize your thinking. We believe that’s what Paul meant when he said, “You’ll be changed from the inside out” (Romans 12:1 MSG).

If you’re in search of reasonable love, you’ll miss out on a love that’s extraordinary–on the opportunity to find a love you didn’t realize you had.

Jesus’s ideal model of love can rub off on our imperfect lives. Why? Because loving like Him is more attainable that we realize.

5 ACTIONABLE WAYS TO LOVE LIKE JESUS

Jesus’s example and teachings show us at least five ways we can love more like Him. While it’s not an exhaustive list by any means, these practices can provide us with an actionable starting point to apply to our imperfect, human lives.

To love like Jesus, we must:

  • Be mindful. We need to connect more deeply with our lives and the people in them, rather than living a detached, disconnected existence.
  • Be approachable. It’s important for people to feel safe approaching us; in other words, we must become less exclusive in our interactions with others and more welcoming to those who seek us out.
  • Be full of grace. We must be willing to relate to others in a less judgmental way.
  • Be bold. We have to shed our fears, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV).
  • Be self-giving. We need to become less self-absorbed and more invested in those around us.

Over and over, Jesus demonstrated these qualities to show us that they’re not unattainable ideals. Instead, they’re a doable way to get an earthly handle on a heavenly ideal.

DEBUNKING THE MYTHS

It’s a common misperception that loving like Jesus means that you must become a doormat, a weak wimp, or a spoilsport. Some people believe that loving like Jesus means we have to deny ourselves everything, miss out on all the fun, and smother our joy. But that’s not true.

According to research, having the ability to practice love in our daily relationships–marriage, friends, family, and otherwise–is actually the defining mark of human happiness. When we give of ourselves and do good for others, we use higher-level brain functions that trigger neurochemical reactions in our brains. The result? A cascade of positive emotions.

God designed us to want happiness because he wants us to be happy. But we seldom realize that the things we think will bring us happiness actually won’t. The things we chase after actually hinder our ability to truly enjoy life. We get used to pitiful pleasures that only last for a moment–and we miss out on the deepest enjoyment life has to offer.

Learning to love like Jesus isn’t illusive, out of reach, or pie-in-the-sky theology. It’s available to you and me right now. At times, we will fail–but each time we dust ourselves off and start again, we’ll learn a little more. It’s not easy, but it can be done. And I (Les) want to share the journey with you.

NEED A ROAD MAP?

My new book Love Like That is a deep dive into the 5 steps you and I can follow in order to love more like Jesus. When you pre-order, you’ll get access to bonus resources, including a sneak peek at chapter 1, a 30-day devotional, a free copy of the Deep Love assessment, and more. Get your copy here.

If you’d like to join the Love Like That launch team, sign up here.

Do you want to love more like Jesus? Are you already following some of the tips in this post? Let us know how they’ve opened your heart and changed your mind in the comments below.

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ZIP YOUR LIPS: HOW TO PROTECT YOUR MARRIAGE’S PRIVACY By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

#marriage

It’s a challenge to deal with an “overly-disclosing” spouse. If this sounds familiar, your spouse may mean no harm…yet they regularly manage to tell their friends or family things you’d rather keep private.

We (Leslie and I) struggled with this issue early in our marriage. For Leslie, talking about things I didn’t want repeated outside our marriage was just her way of connecting with her friends. She wasn’t trying to be hurtful…yet, it made me feel sad and violated.

Luckily, there’s a happy ending to our dilemma. Because Leslie didn’t want to be the reason I clammed up and stopped sharing with her, she learned to “put things in the vault” that needed to stay between us. And if you’re in a similar boat, you can have that happy ending, too.

So how do you learn to protect your marriage’s privacy?

DON’T DISCUSS PRIVATE MATTERS WITH YOUR FRIENDS OR FAMILY

What’s a private matter? Generally speaking, it’s often a given that things like personal finances, sex, certain boundaries you’ve set, and similar subjects are off the table for casual discussion outside your marriage. And only within specific parameters should they be on the table at all (like if you’re seeking counseling, for example, which is also private between you and your therapist).

Not only could sharing private matters hurt your spouse’s ability to trust you, it might also undermine your spouse in the eyes of friends and family. And while it’s possible to regain your spouse’s trust and confidence over time, it might not be easy for your loved ones to adopt a picture of your spouse other than the one you painted. Even if you haven’t badmouthed your spouse per se, everything you tell contributes to others’ perception of them.

PUT THE KIBOSH ON OVER-SHARING

There are likely some things that may not be universally recognized as “private”…but maybe there are certain things your spouse doesn’t appreciate you sharing. Depending on your (and your spouse’s) unique preferences, the things you choose to keep private may extend beyond the general don’ts.

One or both of you might feel uncomfortable with the other discussing things like your:

  • Vulnerabilities
  • Shortcomings
  • Disagreements
  • Closely-held dreams and ambitions
  • Opinions of others
  • Political or religious beliefs

If you’re not sure what your spouse is or isn’t okay with you discussing, ask them. If you’ve never discussed the details you’d each like to keep private in your marriage, this week would be a great time to sit down together and hash it out.

LET YOUR SPOUSE KNOW HOW THEIR OVER-SHARING AFFECTS YOU

If your spouse tends to tell others a little too much about you or your marriage, keep in mind that they probably don’t mean any harm. Most likely, they have no idea they’re hurting you. But the fact is that they are, so it’s important to kindly let them know how you feel.

Don’t accuse your spouse or assign malicious intent to their actions. Tell them something like, “I want to be able to trust you and feel comfortable sharing everything with you. But I need to be able to trust that what I tell you in confidence stops with you.

“When you tell our friends private things about me or us, I feel very upset. It makes me feel like my privacy has been violated. I don’t want to be guarded around you, but it’s important to me that you don’t share these things with your friends or your family anymore.”

The more open, vulnerable, and non-threatening you are when you talk with your spouse, the more likely they’ll be to bite their tongue next time they’re tempted to say too much.

WHEN IT’S OKAY TO TALK

Keep in mind that there are sometimes when speaking up and telling family and friends what’s going on in your marriage is completely appropriate. If your spouse is isolating, controlling, or abusing you, it’s crucial for you to get safe. Keeping harmful secrets and suffering in silence is the last thing you need to do, so find a trusted friend, family member, or therapist to confide in who can give you the help you need.

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES

Is your spouse an over-sharer? Are you? How do you handle this issue–or have you overcome it? We’d love to read your stories in the comments section.

TIPS FOR NAVIGATING DIFFICULT IN-LAW RELATIONSHIPS – PART 2 By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Most married couples are uncomfortably familiar with some level of stress when it comes to their in-laws. Maybe you’re dealing with invasion of your privacy, criticism, or jealousy, to name a few issues. The bottom line is, you married one another’s families when you married each other–now, you need to be able to work together to navigate the difficult situations that may arise from time to time.

This week, we’re completing our two-part series on challenging in-law relationships. (If you missed part 1, you can catch up here.) Read on to learn a few more ways you and your spouse can set healthy boundaries with your parents and extended families.

APPLY THE SAME RULES AND BOUNDARIES TO THE WHOLE FAMILY

Do you have a few individuals in your family who have a tendency to create drama? Sometimes, it’s more diplomatic to set rules or boundaries that apply to the entire extended family on one side or the other, rather than singling out one or two people. For example:

  • If one of your in-laws tends to speak out of turn and ruin surprises, you may want to keep certain things a surprise for everyone–not just him or her.
  • If you have a family member who wants to be in control of planning events (birthday parties, wedding showers, baby showers, etc.), you and your spouse might agree not to ask any of your family members to help you make those plans.
  • You might create an across-the-board rule that you don’t do business with, or seek specific services from, family.
  • If some of your family members are overly invasive and tend to overstay their welcome in your home, you might need to set certain times when family visits at your home are off-limits to everyone.

We all love our families, but there are times when it’s better to set a blanket rule and stick to it. While other family members might not understand–and while it might be difficult for you to agree to if your own relatives aren’t problematic–setting rules like this can help take the pressure off you and your spouse and reduce the stress in your lives. It could even make the memories you create with your families much more pleasant.

Imagine how much easier it would be to set a rule, then be able to respond with, “Look, this isn’t about you. This is what we agreed on for everyone.” In addition to avoiding those sticky situations, you’re also reducing potential conflict when you choose not to single the person out.

NEGOTIATE FAMILY VISITS AND HOLIDAYS AHEAD OF TIME

When we marry, we blend our new relationships with the traditions and celebrations we’ve enjoyed in our lives up until that point. Holiday traditions are deeply held in families, and most of us are emotional about keeping those. But because scheduling and travel between two extended families can be complicated, it can be helpful to negotiate holiday and special occasion visits ahead of time.

Be sure to make your mutual plans for holidays ahead of time, making long-term plans you can both agree to. Because it’s emotional to change your approach to the traditions you’re used to, make sure you both own and process your feelings around these changes, too.

It can be difficult to miss certain family events where your presence is expected, and that might be hard for your parents or in-laws to understand. You may even get some pushback or pressure from one or both sides of your family when you break the news. But if you’ve made your agreements ahead of time and had plenty of time to process them, you’ll be able to give firm answers in response.

Some couples visit as many celebrations as possible on both sides of the family, every year. For others, this may be unrealistic or too stressful, so they might rotate visiting years (visiting one side every other year, and vice versa). You might also need to negotiate the length of your visits well in advance so that when the time comes, you’ll be well prepared with your answer if your family asks you to extend your stay.

Marriage means that we have to compromise on certain things; it’s a lifelong, give-and-take commitment. Even though we might be used to a certain family culture or set of traditions, once we’re married, we’ve begun our own family and can create something totally new and unique to us.

TIME TO NEGOTIATE

Have you and your spouse negotiated boundaries, holiday travel, or other interactions relating to extended family? This coming week, take time to have a conversation (or two, or three) about how the two of you can cultivate healthier relationships with the in-laws on both sides of your family.

Do you and your spouse have difficult relationships with extended family members? How do you approach them? Have you agreed on a strategy? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

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