Tag Archive: love



couple huggingAt first glance, looking at the concept of unconditional love, the task itself seems forever daunting, if not completely impossible! How can we love our spouse so completely and unconditionally? No wonder so many of us give up on the thought of happily ever after and “until death do us part”. Love is complicated enough when we are NOT expected to love so perfectly. But perhaps unconditional love is not as daunting as we first suppose.

Perhaps it is our expectations of what marriage is and should be that we take a look at first. If we enter a relationship with the expectation that the other person is supposed to take the role in our lives of ‘completing’ us, or bringing us fulfillment, and the ideal perfect idea of happily ever after involving no conflicts and agreeing on everything (let’s be honest, when we say that, we really mean that the other person agrees with you) and couple all of that with the expectation that the other person is not a ‘broken’ person dealing with their own issues, and growing from them, what we really have is a search for a fairy tale, and not reality. It is also a picture of self-centered or self-focused love. We are looking for someone else to love us unconditionally, with no understanding of what unconditional love is really about. What I have just described is not only a recipe for disaster, but it is not what a ‘real’ relationship ought to consist of.

First let’s take a look at what unconditional love really is. The definition goes something like this: The one who loves does not do necessarily what the one being loved wants, but what is deemed best by the one who loves. It also has to do with the concept of preferring one another… not merely looking out for your own interests and needs but also to those of the other. This means that we are looking out for each other, to find and cherish the best in each other, and encourage growth in each others weak areas, so that they might become stronger and well balanced in all areas of life, rather than a marriage of convenience seeking what someone else can complete in you. It requires being other focused. It requires greater emphasis on building together something that will not only last, but grow and flourish and bring the best of the both of you through friendship and team work.

This concept of love does not fit so well with your typical Hollywood romantic movie. A perfect example comes to mind is the upcoming movie, “About Time” with Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson, about  a guy who finds out from his dad that the men in his family have always been able to travel through time. The character Tim in the movie (played by Domhnall Gleeson) can’t change history, but he can change what happens and has happened in his own life. As the movie trailer indicates, Tim goes back to the same moments in time several times to edit what he presents of himself to the girl whom he is falling in love with, so as to present a more ‘polished’ or ideal presentation of himself. Click below to watch the trailer for this movie:

Sadly, this is not what real life or real love is about. It is most often the opposite. The person with whom you are the most intimate gets to observe you in ways that outsiders do not see. The day to day habits, character issues, un-edited versions of each other. I will admit, in the early stages of a relationship, yes it is true that people most often show the best parts of themselves at first, but eventually the flaws show. Eventually disillusionment enters the relationship, especially when you are seeking the ideal mate.

couple arguing in bed

While it is quite disappointing when people first see the flaws in their spouse, it is a perfect opportunity for something real to develop and the perfect place for unconditional love to be tested. This is the part of the relationship where your real values surface. When you first see the flaws – the temper, the blameshifting, the hidden secrets surfaced, the addictions or bad habits show up… what do you do? Do you see this as the perfect opportunity to run away and leave the relationship? Do you withdraw emotionally and disconnect? Do you fight and bicker and stick it out? Most of these responses come from something deep within us that longs for the ideal, coming out in language like “I need to find someone better than this.”

If you have followed my blogs for a while, you may recall a series I did a long while back on boundary development. To refresh, boundary development happens in the first few years of growth, going through the following stages of development: First we need to attach and connect, then we need to separate and individuate and begin to notice that mommy and me are not the same. This is also where boundary development begins. Knowing what you want, or don’t, determining your likes and dislikes, and differences between you and others first takes place. The next stage involves knowing that you are loved unconditionally; that both your good and not so good parts are loved. Finally, there is the stage of adulthood and authority. These are the stages we walk through while growing up in our first family. I mention this because, as many of us know, we all carry baggage with us into every relationship we enter. Everything that is unfinished business in our growth and development needs a safe place in which we can continue and complete that growth, that missing element. This is a perfect example of what the intention of marriage is for.

Marriage is meant to be a safe place to finish growing and be cheered on by our mate to continue to grow and develop throughout the remainder of our lives. Without continued development, we grow stale and become stagnant. Where there is no vision, the people perish. We are meant to continually live with purpose for the remainder of our lives. The same man who was quoted to say that without vision we perish, is the same man who tested the measures of life, as you can read in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament of the Bible. Solomon was claimed to be the wisest man of his age, and after an experiment of experiencing all sorts of pleasure, and riches, work, even wisdom itself, came to the conclusion that everything in life is meaningless without purpose. His conclusion was that God gave purpose to life, and that without purpose, there was really no point, because everything comes to an end. You can’t take your riches with you. Pleasure alone without purpose leads to depression, and loneliness. He realized that life was not meant to be live self-centeredly.

So too, marriage is not meant to be lived for the convenience of others making me happy, but rather to work as a team together building each other up, and being a help to each other spurring each other on toward more and more growth, and personal or professional or spiritual growth, as well as coming to deeper levels of maturity within the relationship. Sharing not only the joys and successes of life together, but also walking together through the painful seasons of life along with all of the trials, and through each others weaknesses, openly communicating and sharing with each other brings a deep and rich fullness to your lives together, and ultimately leads to a life where there is never a dull moment, or distance between you, but rather a rich sense of ‘wholeness’ as you draw closer together, always preferring one another.

This is what unconditional love is meant to be.

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Looking to improve your relationship?  Check out my online Relationship Coaching Program and get started today!

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach

 


Before I get started on today’s subject, I would like to point out that today is my husband and I’s 16th anniversary – and I’m only 34! We got married young! Lol! We celebrated last weekend with a picnic dinner and movies under the stars, and will be going out for dinner tonight and a full day at the scandinave spa in Collingwood Ontario on Sunday to celebrate. For our 15th anniversary, we went on a cruise to Europe! So beautiful! I will likely blog more about it next Wednesday!

Telling you this is an important segue into today’s topic on love and respect, touching on the differing needs of men and women. Why is it important to mention my 16th wedding anniversary, you might ask, other than the obvious reason to share a special occasion with you? Because, even after 16 years of marriage, there is still much to learn, and new ‘aha’ moments about each other, as we journey together through life, watching and participating in the areas of change and personal growth in each other’s lives. An anniversary is a perfect time to reflect on the successes, growth together as a couple and as individuals, as we look back through the years from where we started to where we are now. And there is still much to learn.

For instance, I picked up this book a couple of months ago, called “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and as I read it, I realized I was very much unaware of how desperately men need to feel respected. Before all the women raise their defenses and women’s lib ideas of ancient traditional perspectives of men ruling their wives, often involving suppression or control, and take a modest look – let us put our biases off to the side for the moment and consider what Eggerichs has to say, and take away from it what you will.

I personally felt that hesitation myself as I am very much an advocate of women’s rights, and equality, and quite liberal myself when it comes to very traditional and limiting perspectives of women. So bear with me because I think the author does a good job of addressing both women’s and men’s needs quite equally.

Having said that, here is a synopsis of what he suggests women need. I will start with that first, so the women readers are more open to hear what their men need! And if you have a great relationship and equal status with each other, this will serve as another great tool to understand each other better.

The author of the book suggests that most women desire closeness, openness, understanding, peacemaking, loyalty and esteem. She fears respecting him because her deeper fear is being a doormat. He suggests that even in conflict, women confront to connect. We are seeking a peaceful resolution to restore the closeness and the connection. If the conflict is left unsettled, she feels a ‘gulf’ between the two and will continue to confront until it is resolved. Oftentimes Dr. Eggerichs suggests that in these confrontational moments that men feel that she is trying to control her man, but disagrees with this common perspective and suggests to men “your wife is confronting you to connect”. When a couple gets this, it remarkably improves their interaction with each other.

On the subject of a woman’s need to feel close, he suggests women feel close when her partner holds her hand, hugs her, is affectionate without sexual intentions, spends alone time together focusing on each other, pillow talk after sex, and I might add to that, feeling connected heart to heart in conversation that promotes emotional intimacy.

The author suggests she wants her spouse to open up and shares his struggles with her. She wants to be understood and not to be viewed as a problem to be fixed. She needs to be listened to, to be heard.

When there is conflict, she wants her man to own up to his contribution in the matter and say he’s sorry instead of blaming and not taking ownership. It takes two to tango. Usually there is fault on both sides, even though percentages of ownership may vary from conflict to conflict. She just wants him to own up to, or should I say “man up” to his part in the problem area.

She desperately needs to know you are committed to the relationship and to be honored and valued and treasured. This is her version of being respected. She will feel respected and esteemed when you speak highly of her in front of others, telling her you are proud of her accomplishments, giving her affirmation and praise, and value her opinion.

Keep in mind, this is a synopsis of the book, if you want a more in depth understanding, you will need to buy the book!

Now that the women are softened and are feeling a little more understood, we are a little more prepared to hear about his needs. What does your man need? How do we understand him?

The author uses the acronym C-H-A-I-R-S to describe his needs. By the way, the acronym he uses to describe her needs is C-O-U-P-L-E.

His needs are: conquest, hierarchy, authority, insight, relationship, and sexuality. How many of you women cringed at a few of those words? Especially hierarchy maybe?

He explains that conquest has to do with appreciating his desire to work and achieve. He feels it is his duty to provide for his family and he wants to do it well. He will feel you appreciate his desire to work when you listen to his work stories, you tell him verbally that you value his work efforts, allow him to dream bigger and encourage him to reach toward accomplishing those dreams. If you criticize his work he feels disrespected.

Hierarchy has more to do with his desire to protect and provide than to lord it over you. Women who are reading this will appreciate this quote from the book: “women hear (the word hierarchy) and think immediately of the chauvinist mind-set: ‘The male dominates the female’…’It’s a man’s world’…’Men are superior and women are inferior’… And on and on. I can’t really blame these women,” he says, “because over the centuries men have…justified all kinds of terrible treatment of women” but disagrees wholeheartedly against such abusive treatment of women. Rather, he suggests that if a man is “good-willed”, his wife’s respect and his hierarchical position will not cause him to abuse, because that is not his nature. He will not use his position as “chair” of the family against those he is to love and protect” and provide for. He wants to be responsible. This is one of the ways he wants to show you love, by providing and protecting.

As for authority, the author suggests that a man needs appreciation of his desire to serve and to lead. Another hard concept for women to swallow! Authority comes with responsibility, and is not to be given irresponsibly. Mutual submission to each other is necessary, but a responsible man knows this, and when he leads with authority, he is serving his family, by preferring her needs above his own. Eggerichs suggests that your husband wants “your acknowledgment that he is the leader, the one in authority. This is not to grind you under or treat you as inferior.” He suggests it is because your man wants to be responsible. “Appreciating and respecting his desire to serve you and lead the family takes faith, courage, and strength on your part” he tells women. He will feel you appreciate his authority and leadership when you tell him you are thankful for his strength and enjoy being able to lean on him for support, he will also feel this way if you support his self-image, or praise his good decisions and show grace towards his bad decisions. If you disagree, tell him in private and not publicly in order to honor him.

I know women need him to ‘just listen’ and not problem solve, but he needs to feel as though his insight is appreciated, as well as his desire to analyze and counsel. He will feel this way if you thank him for his advice, let him problem solve occasionally, and recognize that problem solving for him is his “male brand of empathy”.

As for relationship, he appreciates “shoulder to shoulder friendship”. Sometimes he just wants to be in your company, not to talk, but just be in the same room, or doing the same activity together, as he would do with his male buddies. He just wants companionship sometimes.

Last but not least, which really needs no further discussion as we all know a mans desire for sexual intimacy!!! He needs you to understand he needs sexual release just as you need emotional release. He needs you to respond to his sexual advances and wants you to initiate too!

In closing, I will add that the author suggests that these aren’t universal principles across the board, and rigid concepts. Some women may have needs that the author suggests a typical male to have, and some men may relate to the needs mentioned in the C-O-U-P-L-E acronym suggested as typical female needs. That is normal as each of us has differing needs regardless of gender. Dr. Eggerichs is merely pointing out some common themes he has seen within his counseling practice throughout the years.

For what it’s worth, it is a riveting look at how we relate to each other, and the foreign needs of the opposite gender and how we can learn to both love and respect each other better in a marriage relationship between man and wife.

Happy anniversary honey! I pray I can better understand and meet your needs, even the ones I cringe at and wrestle with!

I look forward to engaging in your comments, questions and opinions on this subject. I’m curious about the responses of those reading this blog!

If you’d like to look at another great resource, check out my one-on-one or couples Relationship Coaching Program which will equip your relationship with the tools it needs to grow!

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your no charge Personal Freedom Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach


One might imagine in a fairy tale world that giving love and receiving love are actually quite normal, straightforward, and even… Simple? Yet, why is it that it is not always so in the real world? What is it that crosses the wires somehow and there is a malfunction, or a ‘short circuit in some relationships where receiving love is actually quite difficult?

First of all, let’s take a quick look at some basics. Everyone of us has different ways we ‘feel’ loved. According to Gary Chapman, author of “The Five Love Languages”, he narrows these love languages down to five categories: words of affirmation, touch, acts of service, gifts, and quality time. For those of you unaware of this book, you may already be having an ‘aha’ moment as an example floods your mind why you never feel loved by your husband when he doesn’t buy you roses, but if he spends lots of quality time with you and that’s not your primary love language, you barely notice his attention. Or on the other hand, if she’s always buying you gifts, but rarely massages your back, or runs into your arms for an embrace, if touch is your love language, you may feel unwanted or even unattractive to your wife.

And then there’s the gender differences of course. His needs, her needs, right? She needs to feel close (and yet her definition of closeness is different than yours, most likely!). He needs sexual intimacy. Her ideas of intimacy are slightly different. Yes, she wants sex, but she wants to bond in an emotional way, involving openness and communication, and he rarely understands what she means by that. He needs to feel respected, she needs to feel cherished and valued, like she is a treasure, not an object. She wants loyalty, faithfulness and commitment, he likes to provide and protect, and be valued for it. He likes to ‘fix’ the problem, to be valued for his insights, she wants him to just be a sounding board… He wants to counsel, she says “just listen!”.

With all of that going on, is it any wonder we ever have good working relationships at all. Especially with the opposite gender… Or a completely different personality type. Don’t let me even bring that into the equation! With all the differing personality types out there, it takes a lot of work and a lot of ‘preferring’ each other, a lot of asking clarifying questions to determine just how someone not only wants… But needs to be loved.

But that’s just the intro. Then you get into the baggage you are bringing with you from past relationships, and even your primary parental relationships might come with some set expectations of how things are to be, how one should love, etc. So we have individual love languages, gender differences in needs, bad breakups, and past experiences, what we were brought up with re: family values, ideas, etc, let alone coming from a family past that was abusive, or where there was a failure to thrive, neglect, etc. and then add on top of all of that, the ideal romantic chick flick of the fairy tale happy ever after story, with all the social requirements of perfect body image, the culturally defined expectations of what a man is to be, and what a woman is to be, some too good to be true, and others simply superficial, with no real guidance in learning how to give and really receive love.
Keep in mind, I am not bashing anyone, nor am I jaded by life, I simply see the facts and contributing factors that there are a lot of pressures and demands and ideals and expectations and assumptions… And don’t forget baggage- that we drag into every relationship we enter.

Phew. Tough stuff, and yet somehow, there are massive success stories and happily ever after tales after all. But they are HARD work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But when it comes to receiving love… There is a certain part of the population that generally has a real hard time with it. Giving may come a lot more naturally. When someone offers to pay for your dinner, is it easy or difficult to accept? Have you ever stopped to wonder why?

Are you reluctant, or feel incapable of asking for what you need or want? Can you express what you like or dislike in the relationship openly? Even in the sexual department? When you get what you want, are you satisfied, or is there still a hole inside? Like you are detached and disconnected from the happy emotions that usually accompany receiving an emotional need you have?

If so, there may be some of that ‘baggage’ we were just discussing going on beneath the surface.
If you lack the ability to truly bond and feel connected with another person, you may not have bonded with a primary caregiver in your early development years, or have undergone abuse of any kind. Neglect can cause a person to feel very isolated in their soul. Addictions can cause isolation, especially sex addiction, as it tends to rip apart the ability to really connect in an intimate way heart to heart, soul to soul, with your partner. Why? Because often deep shame accompanies it, which no one is comfortable to admit, and shame rips apart self-esteem. Low self esteem is a major player for sure, and can be for any number of reasons and begin at any time in life, usually accompanying some traumatic event. Rejection can tear at our sense of worth and esteem. On and on the list goes on. If you live with a split sense of self, like you can only project the ‘good’ or capable side of yourself, performing your way through life, you likely don’t connect very deeply with others as you wrestle to risk enough to let someone see the less than perfect parts of yourself.

I would highly recommend reading the book “Receiving Love” by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D & Helen Lakely Hunt, Ph.D for some great insights. Even if you are not the psychology nerd that I am and are not as much interested in “why” you feel you cannot receive love, there are some great exercises at the end of the book that you can practice with your partner if you really want to try and overcome the inability to receive love.

I will leave you with a couple of starter ideas that my husband and I have tried that really work.

One of the exercises we tried was to tell each other 5 things we were grateful for each day that the other person had done that we felt was loving.

Another idea is to create a gift list. Write down the things you want on your list (if you are working with a modest budget, keep that in mind while writing your list. Don’t make it unattainable. When you are finished, you swap lists and the other person is responsible to randomly give you that gift. If you both purpose to do this, it can be a very beneficial practice in allowing yourself to receive. It doesn’t even have to cost money. It could be “I would feel like it was a gift if you picked up after yourself and put your dirty clothes in the hamper!” or perhaps, dancing in the rain or some cities have the movies under the stars idea where they show free movies in a park that could serve as a free romantic night… The sky is the limit. The purpose is practice!!

Emotional flooding is another great exercise where you sit down with each other and just tell each other all the wonderful things you love about them, their natural abilities and talents, appearance, character qualities you admire, etc.

The book I just mentioned contains the above examples (I believe there is more to each assignment though) and many more.

Just remember this, if you forget everything else that I have said: you were created with divine purpose, in the image of God, loved by God, and were created to be loved, to be able to give and receive love, and no matter what anyone else says or thinks about you: you are worthy to be loved. Let go of that self critical voice affirming all the reasons you can’t be loved, and start changing the message: write a list of why you should be loved, why you are lovable right now, and have some compassion for yourself! The bible actually puts it quite well when it says to love others as you love yourself. In fact, most faiths share this golden rule. It is difficult to love others truly if you cannot see enough value in yourself to love yourself. If that seems too difficult, start with this: ask yourself “what do I like about myself?” and begin repeating those messages as affirmations regularly. You may be surprised how quickly you begin to see value in yourself. You are doing the work of building your self esteem. Don’t sabotage it by the self criticism. Pay attention to its voice as it creeps in, and let the sentence end midair as you breathe in an affirmation about your worth and intrinsic value!

Have a great weekend!


Last Monday, I began to write about the concept of understanding God’s love, and mentioned I would continue the discussion today.

To recap just a little, I talked about what abiding in Christ Jesus looks like, that abiding in Him is abiding in perfect love, which casts out fear, and I talked about God’s commandments to love each other, and that this command does not come from a God who is demanding and punitive, because abiding in him removes all fear of punishment as we begin to grasp the message of the good news of the gospel, which comes down to faith in God. This same God who gives commandments to obey him, does so from a posture of humility not forcing himself on anyone, but rather he respects our free will that He himself gave us, fully understanding that love cannot truly exist without choice. God wants us to love Him, and receive His love. He is on a mission to pursue our hearts and let us know just how much he loves us by sending his son Jesus, to take the punishment of sin upon himself that we may go free. This is the good news. Very simple, yet so hard to embrace… A free gift? What’s the catch? By faith alone? Can’t be. Must be earned. He loves me unconditionally? No way. No one can love like that. Conclusion: He must have a hidden agenda and is not to be trusted, and so we continue to live our lives independent from the love of God, which he desperately longs for us to embrace by faith alone, and by the evidence he gave us by taking away the punishment for sin, by having his son take it on himself, thereby allowing God to be perfectly just and perfectly merciful at the same time. Perfectly just by demanding that justice be done for evil, and perfectly merciful by allowing us to go free from the consequences of sin by embracing the idea that Jesus took all of our sins, past, present and future on himself, and paid the price we couldn’t.

So coming back to the concept of abiding in God, aka, perfect love, which encompasses the idea of keeping his commandments, let’s take a look at these commandments and how to apply them in our lives.

“But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility, receive the word implanted, (Jesus) which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, and once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he is, but the one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer, but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. This is pure and undefined religion in the sight of our God and Father: to visit orphan’s and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:19-27

“So speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty, for judgment will be merciless to the one who has shown no mercy, for mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:12-13

“For whoever keeps the whole law (Old testament law) and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10.

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor, love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10.

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”, for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust is conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” James 1:13-15

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in you? You lust and do not have, so you commit murder, you are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask God, and when you ask, and do not receive it is because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3

“Even so, consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies that you should obey it’s lusts, and do not go on presenting your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead and present the members of your body as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are a slave to the one whom you obey, either of sin, resulting in death, or of obedience, resulting in righteousness?” Romans 6:11-16

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law (old testament) could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the flesh, but those who are according to the spirit, the things of the spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not subject itself to the law of God for it is not even able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the spirit, if indeed the spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him. And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Romans 8:1-10.

Again we come back to the concept of abiding in God, in Christ, and the spirit of God, and the law of liberty which sets us free from the old covenant law of sin and death. The law of liberty is the good news of faith in Christ. If the spirit of God lives in us, we have the power through the spirit of God to condemn and put to death our sinful behavior, not of our own strength, but enabled by the spirit of God living within us.

The law of the spirit of life in Christ (or the law of liberty through his sacrifice on behalf of our sin), has set us free from the law of sin and death that judges and condemns us. But there is no more condemnation if I am IN Christ, or abiding in Christ.

“So then, brothers, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to it, for if you live according to the flesh, you must die, but if by the spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are being led by the spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons, by which we cry, Abba, Father!” Romans 8:12-15

Here we come back to this concept of fear again. Our sin nature, the desires of our flesh that wage war within us, enticing us to sin, are what lead us back into the fear of judgment and condemnation. Our sinful acts are what the enemy of God (the devil, or satan) uses as ammunition to judge and accuse us before our Father God. (see Revelation 12:10,11) When we receive and accept his accusation against us, we submit ourselves again under the law of sin and death, rather than the law of liberty which deals with mercy triumphing over judgment and also deals with love casting out the fear of punishment. If we are In Christ, we live by the law of liberty, trusting and knowing and believing that Christ has already paid the price for our sinful nature. We must continue to put to death those inherent sinful desires and choose to live in love which is the fulfillment of the law, rather than living a selfish lifestyle, but also understanding there is grace when we do sin.

The enemy tempts us to sin, and when we yield to sin and are carried away by the lust in our sinful nature, he accuses us before God trying to cause us to subject ourselves again as slaves to sin, so that we forget what Christ has accomplished for us on he cross by laying his life down for us, in our place. The enemy appeals to our self-centeredness, or selfishness, which is why abiding in love keeps us under the law of liberty. Because this kind of love, God’s love, is unselfish. When we abide in Christ, in love, we are putting to death our sinful nature, resisting the devil and the desire to yield to sin, and close doors on the devil to legally accuse us before God, because we come to God, abiding in Christ, the law of liberty, and when we are accused, God sees Jesus abiding in us, and simply says “paid in full.”

If we abide in the word of God, we are able to overcome.

“For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For whoever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that had overcome the world – our faith. And who is he that overcomes the world? but he who believes that Jesus is the son of God.” 1 John. 5:3-5

The commandments of God are summed up in loving God and loving each other. God’s love is the fulfillment of the law. God’s love fulfills the requirement of the law -perfection’. Perfect love drives out fear of punishment. Christ lived a perfect, sinless life, and his love was perfected by laying down his life for us, in our place, fulfilling the law and allowing us to go free from condemnation and accusations.

Could it be that as we abide in love for each other, (and as we do, God also abides in us), that we are presented with the opportunity through relationship, to encounter the specks and log’s within each other’s lives, giving us the ability to see our own faults as we are otherwise blinded to see through our pride, which deceives us, and through loving each other as God loves us (preferring each other above ourselves) we are made aware of our sin nature and are then able to crucify our sin nature because of love? When we truly begin to love each other, we find this law at work: “love does no harm to its neighbor” and our consciences are grieved when we see our own sin nature (selfishness) affecting the lives of the ones we love and when love begins to take precedence in our lives, we find ourselves empowered to change, thereby taking authority over our sin, and submitting it to God. Just some food for thought.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:10-12

Propitiation means “to appease because of Christ’s sacrifice. The benefits of Christ’s death to man. Not only the benefit of reconciliation with God, but the manner by which we were made friends of God. He is both the sacrifice and the high priest from the old testament, sacrificing himself.”

What is this love that we’ve been talking about, that drives out fear?

Love -agapeo from the greek, means “to love, indicates a direction of the will and finding it’s joy in anything. Agapeo is used of God’s love toward man and vice versa. Phileo (from the Greek) means to contend with, common interests, befriending. Agapeo stands higher above phileo because of its moral import; love that expresses compassion.

Agape, also from the Greek, is another word used for love, meaning “charity, meaning benevolent love. It’s benevolence however, is not shown by doing what the person loved desires, but what the one loving deems as necessary or needed by the one loved. God gave us not what we wanted, but what we needed, as perceived by God (the one loving). God’s love for man is doing what he thinks is best for man and not necessarily as man desires. It is God’s willful direction toward man. For man to love God, he must first appropriate God’s agape, for only God has such an unselfish love.”

“For God so loved the world that he sent his only son, that whoever believes in him, has eternal life.” John 3:16

Faith comes from hearing the word of God. Believe it. God loves you. No matter what. He has only been recklessly pursuing us since the beginning of time, since the fall of man into a sinful condition separating us from the ability to receive God’s love, because of the knowledge of sin and death and our mistaken beliefs about the character and goodness of God’s heart. He had to do something radical to show us how much he loves us and desired intimate fellowship with us. He sent his son in our place removing the curse of sin from us to prove that his heart toward us is good. To show us he wants relationship with us and will go to any length of humility to gain our love. He has set himself up for rejection again, by paying the ultimate sacrifice and removing the consequences of sim from us if we receive his free gift of salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We can still reject this love if we so choose. But if by faith, we receive this gift, the love of God, we will be saved from the consequences of sin.

“Now for this very reason, applying all diligence, in your faith, supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self control, and in your self control, perseverance. And in your perseverance, godliness, and in godliness, kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. If these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8


So yesterday I took a hiatus from writing for the day… I had an appointment with a specialist re: my back. I’ve been on a waiting list for about eighteen months now! I will likely blog about that on Wednesday with some updates, but as a result, it took much of my day yesterday, with the long wait times, so I decided I would take an unofficial vacation day, and enjoy the rest of the afternoon with my husband, who also took the day off work to come to my appointment with me.

So I’m catching up today. I am blogging today what I was supposed to write about yesterday…God’s unconditional love, and what that involves. I will be quoting myself from something I wrote over 2 years ago when I first began to have a revelation of why the ‘good news’ that is talked about in the new testament is such ‘good news!’ I have been in church my whole life and didn’t quite understand how to grasp the message of grace. I admit, I am still a work in progress at understanding this important principle. The revelations I am about to share became the ‘Aha!’ moment of discovering the content of the book I am writing, called “Found Wanting”.

Here is what I came to understand:

“no one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12

“And we have come to know and have believed the love which aged has for us. God IS love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16

“By this, love is perfected in us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:17-19.

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3

So let’s begin to unpack the above verses a little. Let’s start by getting a fuller understanding from the original Greek that the new testament was written in, and translate more fully the words “abide”, “judgment”, and “punishment” from the passages I just quoted.

Meno- to remain, to dwell, abide, to persevere, to stand firm, to remain alive, to wait for, to remain under, be patient, patient towards things and circumstances, long suffering, or patience toward people.

Krisis- judgment, a separation, judgment, final sentence, the final judgment, to pass judgment, judgment of condemnation, the cause or ground of condemnation or punishment.

Kolasis- punishment, to punish, torment.

Now part of this good news of the gospel of grace that Jesus spoke of involves this:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are IN Christ.” Romans 8:1

What does condemnation mean?

Katakrima, condemnation – to divide, to separate, judge, to be decided against anyone, a condemnatory judgment.

When we love one another, which we will define soon), God abides in us and He perfects love in us (for Him and each other). Two verses come to mind that I will briefly reference concerning the love for God and each other.”love the lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.” and “Love if the fulfillment of the law.” When we abide in God’s love, loving each other, and Him, God not only abides in us, but this is HOW love is perfected in us. Why does it matter if this love abides in us? Because it gives us confidence in the day of judgment. God’s love casts out the fear of judgment and punishment. Why? Because Jesus Christ took our punishment on Himself, therefore we are no longer condemned. There is now NO condemnation (the result of judgment) for those who are abiding in Christ. If I am IN Christ Jesus, I am abiding IN him.

Jesus uses an analogy that says of himself that He is the vine and His father is the gardener. He goes on to say:

“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he takes away and every branch that bears fruit, he prunes it so that it may bear fruit…Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine and you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up, and they gather them and throw them into the fire and they are burned.”

This last verse deals with the consequences of not abiding in the vine. The life that comes from abiding is not there and the branch dries up and dies.

Jesus goes on to say, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you. By this is my Father glorified that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. Just as the Father has loved you, I have also loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you that my joy be in you and that your joy may be made full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:7-14

Those of you reading this that do not yet understand the love of God may read the above passages by suggesting that God is a demanding, punitive God, who punishes those who don’t abide in Him, and that he commands obedience, without question. Yet, we forget, this same God created each one of us with free will to make up our own minds. He does not dictate that we MUST follow Him, for he knows that love cannot exist in an environment of force, so instead, he places himself in a vulnerable position, the God who loves us and longs for our love in return, humbly gives us free choice to reject and neglect him and to NOT love him. He is communicating here, merely that abundant, full life comes only by abiding in his love, because only his love is perfect. How well we see this modeled in our lives. When we carry resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness in our hearts, it acts as a poison that kills and destroys our ability to dwell in absolute love. When we have been hurt by other’s imperfect love, and we dwell in fear of being harmed again, we still wrestle with understanding the love that comes from abiding in God’s love, which heals, and enables us to rise above our own human nature that wants to stay wounded, angry and justified to judge and punish those we’ve been burned by, and instead, rise above that, and sit comfortably, resting in the knowledge that God’s love is perfect and does not fail, will not damage our self-esteem, and instead, heals us, enabling us to then love others as he does, because if we are loved perfectly, then love heals us to love more perfectly than we can on our own.

Abiding in perfect love (God) keeps punishment and the consequences of punishment away from us. Because God’s love casts out the fear of punishment. The hint of why perfect love casts out fear of punishment is in this verse: “greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus laid his life down for us, taking our punishment on himself.

“We know love by this, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our friends. For whoever has the world’s good and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in Him? Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18

“Since you have in obedience to the truth, purified your souls for a sincere love for each other, fervently, (deeply) love one another from the heart, for you have been born again, not of seed which perishes, but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding Word of God.” 1 Peter 1:22,23.
(in this reference, the ‘word of God’ here, is not referring to the new testament as it was not yet written. Jesus himself often references himself as ‘The Word of God’. So again we see that concept of abiding in Jesus for a freedom we have not yet unpacked.)

So what does this love look like? How do we lay down our lives for others?

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, let each of you regard one another as more important than himself, do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of other’s. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 2:1-13

Stay tuned next week Monday, for part 2 of this blog. I really thought I would have enough time to get it all in today… But there is so much to say of, and learn of the love of God, to really begin to appropriate it, yet alone understand, take in and receive. His love is so massive, it truly is inconceivable. Almost too hard to believe, too good to be true… And yet it is. He loves us and pursues us like none other, and His love for us never fails, never ends, never quits. His love is big enough to even let us walk away from him if we don’t want to receive his love. It breaks his heart, but he respects our free will. And he will not break that promise!

Unconditional Love


 

 

I mentioned on Monday that I would talk a little more today about unconditional love today.

Since I am going to unpack what God’s love for us looks like on Monday, excerpts out of my book ‘Found Wanting’, I thought today, I might just pass on some good stuff I’ve read from Joyce Meyer on the subject of unselfish, or unconditional love. Some quotes I have read from her book ‘The Love Revolution’ that have really inspired me over the past couple of years.

Helpful tips from Joyce Meyer on learning what unselfish love is, and how to apply it:

 

“One way to love others is to help them not feel worse about the things they already feel bad about.”

I admit, I often find this challenging especially when I have been seriously offended! I am still working on exhibiting more grace toward others, and am personally working on empathizing with where they are coming from so that I can become better at this kind of grace filled compassionate love.

I read this from the book ‘Caring Enough To Confront’ by David Ausberger about caring and confronting which I am working on utilizing in my own life:

Caring

I care about you and about our relationship

I want to hear your view

I want to fully respect your insights

I trust you to be able to handle my honest feelings

I promise to stay with the discussion until we’ve reached an understanding

I will not pressure, manipulate, or distort the differences

I give you my loving, honest respect.

Confronting

I feel deeply about the issues and interests at stake

I want to clearly express my view

I want authentic respect for my insights

I want you to trust me with your honest feelings, knowing that i can handle them fairly

I want you to keep working with me until we’ve reached a new understanding

I want your unpressured, clear, undistorted view of our differences

I want your caring-confronting response.

I am finding these tools as well as others beneficial personally to empathize when someone has wronged me, and I need to remind myself of Joyce Meyer’s advice to not make the person feel worse than they already do! Sometimes… Keeping your mouth shut is the only option if you are not yet able to find the grace to empathize and try to see things from the other person’s perspective, until your own emotions cool!

More tips on unconditional love from Joyce Meyer:

“humility serves and always does what lifts others up.”

“Jesus never made people feel badly because they were not on his level, but instead he stooped to their level.”

“Man’s love fails, but God’s does not. Man’s love comes to an end but God’s love does not. Sometimes I find that although I cannot love a person in my own human strength, I am able to love them with God’s love.”

“Human love depends on feelings. We love people because they have been good to us, or they loved us first. They make us feel good about ourselves, or make life easier, so we say we love them. Or we love them because we want them to love us. But that type of love is based on what they are doing, and if they stop doing it, we will probably stop loving them. God’s love is totally different. When human love ends, God’s love is still available to finish what needs to be done.”

“The true love of God doesn’t depend on feelings it is based on decision. Help anyone who needs help, unless helping them would ultimately hurt them. They don’t have to deserve it. As a matter of fact, sometimes I think the less they deserve it, the more impacting it is.”

“Mercy helps those who don’t deserve help, but unconditional love is not intended to allow people to be irresponsible while we pay the bill. Mercy gives many opportunities, and unconditional love never gives up. It… moves out of the shadows and helps when doing so will really make a difference.”

Perhaps my favorite definition of unconditional love is this:

Agape, from the Greek, translated as unconditional love, or benevolent love, refers to charity. It’s benevolence however, is not shown by doing necessarily what the person loved desires, but what the one who loves deems as necessary or needed by the one being loved.

For example, God gave us not what we wanted, as perceived by God (the one loving), but rather God’s love for man is based on God doing what he knows is best for man and not what man desires. It is God’s willful direction toward mankind. For us to love God, we must first appropriate God’s ‘agape’ love, for only God has such an unselfish love.

I will divulge more into this unconditional love and how it pertains to us on Monday next week! Stay tuned!

Unconditional love has been the single greatest feat for me to accomplish! I long to love this way to the best of my human ability! I am continually humbled by my circumstances when I realize how far I yet have to go to love more and more like God loves! I know I will never be perfect at it, but I greatly admire this kind of love and desire to emulate it to the best of my ability. I am grateful both for my successes and failures in this task, as I learn from each experience how to greater facilitate the ability to love in this way. Sigh. A long ways to go I’m sure. I am thankful for the grace God shows me, as I grapple with learning to extend this same grace to other’s as I try to model my life after the life of Christ. I am a work in progress!

Emotional Abuse


I am about to start a 6 week series on the subject of abuse. I will cover emotional, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as workplace bullying and a final entry on breaking the cycle of abuse, the things you can do to change the way things are currently in a relationship you are in that you believe may be abusive. Today I will touch on emotional abuse.

But first, let us define emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can include anything that destroys your sense of self worth, causes anxiety, depression, fear of your partner (or parent, co-worker, etc that is the abuser), walking on eggshells, feeling stuck in the relationship, feeling like there is no way out, alone, isolated. It can include verbal abuse, such as name calling, and yelling, blaming and inflicting shame on the one being abused. It can include threats of violence if they don’t get their way, it can include belittling or attempts to control you. Emotional abuse tends to be looked at as the least important among the other forms of abuse, as there are no visible scars. But the emotional wounding it causes to one’s sense of self esteem and value runs deep. It can cause self-doubt, self hatred, feelings of being useless or worthless. None of which are true, because all of us are created with divine worth. Our sense of worth is NOT from any external source, such as the person you are in an abusive relationship with. If you used to feel better about yourself, and now you feel like you are weak and helpless and as if the abuser is the one belittling your worth, than this may be a sign that you are in an abusive relationship. However, many people caught in abusive relationships are actually repeating patterns from some sort of early childhood abuse, and may not even recognize you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, as your recollections of what “normal” is, looks like abuse. Here are some signs to look for to help you identify whether you are in an emotionally abusi e relationship.

Are you being emotionally abused?

1. Are you treated like a child? Do you feel you need to get permission before making even the smallest choices or decisions?

2. Are you being blamed for his/her problems? Do they make you feel responsible for their behavior, telling you it is your fault that they got mad and started screaming? Are you blamed for his or her drinking problems or inability to fulfill a dream in life? This is a prime example of a boundary issue -not taking responsibility for one’s own behavior and blaming or expecting others to be responsible for their bad behavior, projecting it onto you.

3. Are you treated as if you are “less than” your partner? Do they remind you and rub in all your mistakes? Do they look down on you if you make less money than they do or if you have a “lesser” degree in your education? Do they tell you how unattractive you are and that no one else would want you?

4. Do they make fun of you and put you down in front of others?

5. Do they regularly dismiss your feelings, preferences and choices, causing you to feel like you have no choice? Do they disregard your thoughts, opinions and suggestions?

6. Are they impossible to please? Do they complain about the way you run your life? Or something about your personality that causes low self-esteem in you?

7. Does your partner always have to be right?

8. Are you looked down on or belittled for your accomplishments, or your future plans? Do you feel like they are treating you like those things are unimportant? Even criticizing and discouraging you from doing anything different with your life? Do they tell you that you will fail at the goals you are trying to reach in an effort to control you and cause you to not believe that you can do it, to the extent that you shrink back and don’t even try?

9. Have you stopped seeing friends or family since being in this relationship? Do you feel emotionally isolated or cut off from outside supportive relationships? Are they jealous or get angry when you spend time with your friends? Did you stop seeing family or friends because you feel ashamed being in this relationship, even though you’ve complained many times about the way you are treated?

10. Are you accused of flirting with others or having an affair that you aren’t having by your abusive
partner?

11. Do they insist on getting their own way? Threatening to end the relationship if they don’t?

12. Do they punish you by withholding sex, or giving you the silent treatment or not giving you the affection you need if things don’t go their way?

13. Are you teased or made fun of, or do they use sarcasm to put you down?

14. Do they apologize when they are wrong? Or do they make excuses for their behavior?

15. Do they tell you that you are responsible for all the problems in the relationship?

If you answered yes to even half these questions, you may currently be involved in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

The first step on the road to recovery is to admit that you are being emotionally abused and acknowledge the damage it has caused to your sense of self worth and self esteem.

A couple of questions for you to consider: Ask yourself why you chose an abusive partner? Can you ind the root cause? Can you trace it back to your childhood or see repeat abusive patterns in your life? Can you identify the voids in your life, the emptiness you feel and how this relationship fills them… Or doesn’t.

Why do you put up with the abuse? What are you afraid of?

Stay tuned for the full series, and see which of the categories you most identify with, as there may be more than one. Stay tuned for my last entry on tools to break the abusive cycle.

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about how to overcome abuse in your life, feel free to browse through the topics in my one-on-one Personal Development Program.

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach


You’ve seen the quote ”dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening, love like you’ve never Imagebeen hurt’… But have you spent much time thinking about it?

 I have it engraved on stone hanging on my wall and I noticed it yesterday… Especially the last line.

 Love like you’ve never been hurt.

 How is this done? For those of us who are the walking wounded, who have been hurt one too mImageany times to count, feeling like reaching out one more time simply might be the death of you -risking again… For what? Perhaps we need a little help to get there.

 Loving, risking, losing. Start over.

Loving, risking, losing… Again and again, stung by betrayal, abandonment, loss. Rejection.

 As the ice melts from my frozen heart, and spring has come to fill my soul afresh, I feel my wounds heal.I have been taught humility by my circumstance.Image

 The world does not revolve around me. I saw a friend, deeply wounded, and saw how she held onto love despite the pain she faced. I looked within myself and saw my inadequacy. I saw that I grappled with mercy and grace and judgments towards those who’ve offended me. How hard it was to let it go and set them free & embrace humility. My pride and resentment kept me trapped in a prison of my own making. Bitterness. I had been trying to forgive – wrestling with it, trying to let go of the pain, but the pain had become my only friend, and my protector. The ice around my heart began to form to protect my heart from further injury. I became numb. And broken. What used to function normally- the ability to love, felt frozen behind a wall of insecurity, fear of being hurt again, fear of loss and pain became my comfort. But in the hardening of my heart what came next was isolation.

 Man was not meant to be alone.

 I’d forgotten how to love at all.

Yet alone to love like I’ve never been hurt.

The secret is forgiveness. Not for them but me. Unforgiveness is like a poison you drink yourself.

 ‘Forgiveness is nothing more and nothing less than an act of self healing – an act of self-empowerment – no longer a prisoner to my tragic past, that I was finally free’.

 The above quote was taken from Eva Kor, a survivor of the Holocaust and the experiments of Joseph Mengele at Auschwitz 50 years ago, who was able to forgive her oppressors in the very place they took away her freedom, her innocence and her family.

 Forgiveness is a process as it takes time to heal, for sure.

But humility and recognizing our own weaknesses and sins can help us give grace to those who have injured us. Grace is a lesson I am learning. I have never been very proficient at it. Without being aware, I have battled with my own sense of self-righteousness and would cling to my right for justice, all the while knowing that mercy triumphs over justice. But still I held on to the ‘why me’, ‘it’s not fair’, victim mentality. It wasn’t my fault. So why did this happen to me?

 Now I see the error of my ways, my own pride and am humbled by my own vanity.

 How do you love like you’ve never been hurt? Without walls of fear or anger or pain or pride to protect you? I knew it in my head, but it needed to penetrate to my heart… Let go of the need to be in control. Let go of the pain and trust God with your heart’s protection.

Let go of fear and give it to God to hold onto. Perfect love drives out fear.

I saw myself in the garden of Eden, along with Adam and Eve, hiding themselves from God.

 ‘where are you?’ He called out to them?

 ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself’ Adam replied.

 So true. Our vulnerabilities make us feel naked. Our awareness of our sinful nature cause us to feel humiliated so that we hide. We feel alone. We believe we must defend ourselves and hide. Hide from more hurt. Hide from awareness of our own flaws. Hide from the effects of other’s sin against us.

 God was reaching out to them, but they couldn’t see that because of their own shame and independence from him. Unable to turn to the only one who could help them, they locked themselves in their independence and separateness from him, left to their own devices to protect themselves from harm, little knowing that their own efforts were causing them to open themselves to vulnerability in harmful ways. But deceived, they believed they were protecting their vulnerability instead.

 By holding onto control, we leave ourselves more exposed to harm and falsely believe our walls of independence -the belief that we can handle it on our own – will protect us from further vulnerability and further harm. But it is only an illusion.

 The only way to love like you’ve never been hurt, is to let go of our attempts to control the  outcome of events. Control is an illusion. I can’t control what others do or don’t do, I can only take responsibility for my own actions.

 Fear is not my friend. It is not a good protector. It blocks us from the ability to love.

 To love like I’ve never been hurt requires me to trust God with my pain, my fear, my inadequate ability to effectively protect myself, and believe that even when I don’t understand, that he will somehow work all things together for the ultimate good, if I choose to embrace the lesson to be learned from my experiences. 

 Instead of hiding in the garden afraid, respond to God’s question ‘where are you?’ with a new answer.

 I’m hurt Lord. I want to protect myself from further pain. I know that is independence from you & I choose to open up to you, to not hide, but rather run to you and let you embrace me, and bandage my wounds, and make me whole again. I choose to trust you with my heart. I choose to take down my walls. I choose to love and I choose grace and I choose forgiveness and I choose to acknowledge I am fallible too. I hurt people too. We are all on equal footing. I choose to repent of my own arrogance and self righteousness. And self pity. I choose to embrace love.  I choose to learn and offer grace. I choose humility.

 My friend and I are on a journey together. We are letting life teach us it’s lessons to learn. We are letting God teach us how to love like we’ve never been hurt. How to let down our habits and trained defenses and walls, and learn the healthy boundaries of taking responsibility for the only thing we Imagecan. Our own actions, our own behavior and responses and attitudes.

 To all of those who have hurt me in some way great or small, to all those i have hurt as well. Not only do I forgive those who have hurt me, But I repent as well. For the lack of grace, lack of integrity, lack of love, the walls, the judgments, the arrogance, my fear. I am fallible too. I know that now.

If you’d like to look at another great resource, check out my one-on-one Trauma Recovery Program which will help you move forward from betrayal, hurt, or loss!

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach


Good morning bloggers! In Toronto today, it’s a bit of a rainy day out, and definitely not as hot as the past few days! But despite the weather, I am feeling great! Heading out in an hour headed to Ottawa, our nation’s capital, for an inner healing training seminar. I hope to bring back some useful tools to offer to my coaching clients out of this conference! Exciting stuff! All that to say, this might be a shorter post than usual for me if I run out of time before I need to leave!! LOL!

Moving right into todays’ subject on Enmeshment vs Intimacy. Most people don’t really know the difference, due in large part likely because enmeshment is not a word we frequently use to describe the nature of our relationships with one another. Intimacy, on the other hand, has often been confused with sex, or lust alone. Going along with the subject we’ve been discussing for the past several weeks, regarding boundaries, this is one of those subjects I promised to delve deeper into. Looking back at my blog about our need for attachment and bondedness, this particular blog should help solve a few dilemmas for you in your thinking about parenting. Were you taught intimacy or enmeshment from your parents? That’s right. Intimacy does not necessarily mean SEX! You can be intimate with your friends, your parents, your partner without sexual involvement being the primary definition of intimacy.

Let’s define intimacy and enmeshment before we go any further:

Intimacy Knowing each other very well, understanding the other’s thought processes, and an awareness of differences and similarities in perspective, opinion, attitute, preference, ideals, values, beliefs, and goals. This intimacy includes the freedom to disagree with someone, to want something different than the other, and to have different needs. It also refers to the closeness desired in a committed relationship including physical and emotional intimacy. If you are looking at this from the perspective of a romantic relationship, this will also include sexual closeness.

Enmeshment is attempting to feel and think as if you were the same person as another. Since quite a bit of uniqeness is missed this way, neither person can really be known – a very different experience from intimacy. Eg. “I gave them so much I didn’t even have a self. And when I finally started developing a “me”, they fought me. They didn’t want me to change. They wanted me to go on living just for them.”              An enmeshed person is not known.                                                                                                    A single word that describes enmeshment well could be, “to entangle”.

If by reading this, you identify just a little, I encourage you to refelct on the definitions of intimacy and enmeshment and try to write down who you are, vs the persons you are intimate/enmeshed with. What are the differences? Are you the same? If you find that you are feeling entagled, enmeshed, like you don’t have a clear sense of self, try the following: Determind the differences between you and the persons you feel enmeshed with. Look at things like your differing strengths and weaknesses, talents, abilities and values that you have and that the other person has. this may help you distinguish the differences between you and them, helping you to identify a clear sense of your ‘true self’.

What do you do with your differences of opinion or your anger? Are you safe enough to express it? Intimacy comes from being ‘known’, and being known requires knowing yourself, having a self to know, and having a sense of your individuality and differences from another, and your valures and thoughts and desires, so that you have something separate to bring to the relationship, Even if you DO have a firm sense of self, intimacy should take time to develop as trust is earned and deepened. We all need to learn whether we are feeling judged or accepted in the relationship, knowing whether it is safe to be open with the other person and be loved for who we are, distinct, and separate, bonding, fully loved. Arguments will happen, communication takes time to work well, mistakes will occur. Clarity of communication needs to be developed. (For further info on communication, see my blog from a couple weeks ago on communication). Are you able to forgive and accept and support the differences in another?

Here is a definition from the free book I’m giving away soon entitled “Boundaries – Where you End and I Begin”, by Anne Katherine on healthy boundaries, and essentially, at the same time, the definition of what it takes to engage in intimacy rather than enmeshment in your relationships:

“So what’s the goal of a person who wants to be healthy? To form boundaries that have some flexibility and some definite limits, boundaries that move appropriately in response to situations – out for strangers, in for intimates. Boundaries should be distinct enough to preserve our individuality, yet open enough to admit new ideas and perspectives. They should be firm enough to keep our values and priorities clear, open enough to communicate our priorities to the right people, yet closed enough to withstand assault from the thoughtlessness and the mean. Healthy boundaries protect without isolating, contain without imprisoning, and preserve identity while permitting external connections.”

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!  I have also created a Relationship Development Program which helps couples build towards a greater life together.

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach


The performance trap gets us every time when we are so desperately looking to find acceptance, approval, to be noticed, and above all to be loved. No one wants to experience rejection, but what sucks many of us into the performance trap in the first place?

What was lacking, deficient, what need unmet, that somehow we believe that if we just do the right thing, say the right thing, look the right way, we will finally receive that love starved void, and feel happy, successful and complete?

The sheer amount of effort to be ‘on’ all the time, to be the witty performer, the over achiever at work, have the muscular physique, or the super model body just to hope for some sense of worth in what we do, how we perform… Is it really worth it? Do we actually achieve what it is we are really looking for? How many of you even know what’s beneath the surface? How many of you have not even been introduced to the ‘real you’ the one behind the mask?

Most people caught in the people pleasing, performance trap have lost themselves long ago, and merely play the role they think they need to play. But who are they playing for?

The sad reality is that the facade on the outside really robs people from knowing the real person beneath the mask. Worse than that, the performer is so used to putting on and taking off hats and playing different roles, living a compartmentalized life, that there is no room for them to even begin to build their own identity.

What’s worse, is that those who can see through the facade, feel at best, pity for the performer’s lack of ability to be a ‘real’ person. And in an age of hunger for authenticity, people pleasing is not so popular. Those who have been deceived by the external performance, feel robbed and cheated of a ‘real’ relationship with the person hiding behind the mask. They also feel like a fool for being deceived and lied to, and feel like they were treated unfairly by the people pleaser, as if they are not trustworthy enough to know the ‘real’ person behind the scenes. Bottom line is, everyone gets the rotten end of the stick in this game.

The people pleaser loses his or her sense of identity, misses out on knowing who they themselves really are, they don’t know what they like, what they value, what they believe, etc. It’s like that movie from ages ago, the runaway bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, He goes in as a reporter to investigate the woman who bails from marriage after marriage, and in typical romance fashion, falls for her himself. Only, he discovers through his reporting what other’s have missed, that she becomes exactly like the man she is with in each new relationship she is in. Not knowing her own identity, at one point in the movie Richard Gere challenges Julia Robert’s character and tells her she doesn’t even know what kind of eggs she likes. In a subsequent scene as the dawning of realization crosses her that she is a people pleaser, you see her with a counter full of different types of eggs and she individually tries them all to decide what she likes for herself.

Sad, but true for the people pleaser. Keep the peace at all costs, don’t rock the boat, try to make everyone else happy, hoping someone will finally make them happy. Trouble is, it doesn’t work. Those content living with a people pleaser will continue to take more and more, not offering in return the one thing the people pleaser hungers for most: love.

Where does this terrible root lie? Go back several blogs and you will read my article on the ideal vs the real. Once again, a developmental injury, rooted in being praised for performance, what one can do, rather than for who one IS. Or the reverse occurs, everything you do is never enough, and you work harder and harder to earn, finally the praise and approval for your efforts. If it never really comes, you carry these traits with you into adulthood in the attempt to finish the natural development process that was supposed to take place during the child rearing years. What happens is that our growth process gets stunted. And forever after, we look to complete that process in relationship after relationship doing the exact things we were taught and/or believed were necessary to ‘earn’ love and approval.

Tell me if you relate to any of these false beliefs:

  • I must meet certain expectations to feel good about myself
  • I must feel approved of or accepted by others to feel good about myself
  • I am a perfectionist -I feel afraid of failure
  • I become depressed or suffer low self esteem if I fail
  • I am extremely self critical
  • I am critical of others.

Does this math equation sound like you?

  • “Self worth = Performance + other people’s opinions?” -Taken from the book Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee

I am deeply moved and troubled for those who fall into this trap. It can be debilitating, and the things you do to try and make it better only amplify the void. Performance isn’t the answer. The truth is, there is someone out there who will love you just for you. In fact, they are likely to love you the more for it. It is impossible to develop a truly intimate relationship with another person if you cannot bring your whole self into relationship.

But first you need to find yourself, and stop trying to medicate the pain by the excess work you put into putting on the ‘ideal self’ show. You don’t need to be superman or super mom for that matter. Everyone has flaws. If you are not loved despite your flaws, then the relationship is not authentic. True intimacy cannot be fostered if this is the case. You will develop something called enmeshment instead. The merging of two individual identities into one. You will look like, be like, act like and accommodate the person you are merging with while developing a co-dependent/dependent relationship.

It’s time to find out who the real you is. If you struggle with performance and not really knowing your identity, your individuation and sense of separateness as a child was not likely modeled in the proper fashion. Good news is, there is hope. But the hope comes from being honest with yourself, and being honest with those you are closest to and trust the most. And write a list. Determine who you are, what do you like? What do you hate? What do you believe? What do you value? What are your favorite kind of eggs, if you don’t know! Get to know yourself. And stop believing the lies that you are not loveable, that who you are is not good enough, does not measure up, is not smart enough or good looking enough, or whatever the lie whispers in your ear. You are worth being loved. You are worth being valued. Not for what you do, but for who you are. You are loveable. I am empathetic and sorry for the years you have wasted trying to earn mom or dad’s approval and love and acceptance in every relationship you’ve been in. Stop trying to prove yourself worthy.

Tell yourself the truth. You are loveable. God loves you. He made you in his unique image and said that ‘it is good’. Begin to tell yourself new messages that you are loveable for who you are. It IS possible to retrain your habits. Habits are formed over time, as are the habits of people pleasing. Habits can be unlearned and relearned. It is a skill you can build.

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach

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