Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Great Lent week 5
Volume 8 No. 467 March 9, 2018

IV. General Weekly Features

Family Special: How to Break Destructive Relationship Patterns

by Whitney Hopler

Are you caught in a dysfunctional relationship with someone? Perhaps you're letting others control you, such as by tolerating an abusive marriage or enabling a friend's addiction because you're afraid of losing the relationship if you speak up. Or maybe you're trying to control others, such as by making unreasonable demands on a coworker or rescuing your children when they make mistakes rather than letting them learn from the consequences. Such “one up, one down” relationships are built on power instead of on the trust and respect that God wants people to have for each other.

The good news is that your close relationships don't have to be painful. If you're willing to change destructive relationship patterns in your life, God will help you break free from them and enjoy healthy relationships. Here's how you can break destructive relationship patterns:

Get to know what true love is like.

Study how Jesus related to people during His life on Earth to see what true love in action looks like: Jesus neither manipulated nor deceived people, and He never tolerated others trying to manipulate or deceive Him. Instead, Jesus spoke the truth to people and let them freely make their own choices about how to respond. Jesus valued people for who they were rather than for what they could do for Him. Make Jesus your role model for how to relate to all people in your life.

Answer God's wake-up calls.

God will often allow crises to come into your life to wake you up to the fact that one or more of your relationships is dysfunctional and needs your attention to heal. If you're going through a crisis that's causing heartache in your life (from a divorce to a financial collapse), ask God what He wants to teach you about your relationships through that crisis. Let your crisis draw your attention to the fact that your unhealthy relationships are actually costing you more than they're giving you. Decide to begin the process of changing the way you relate to people so you can enjoy more peace in your life.

Repent of idolatrous relationships and choose to love God the most.

Realize that any relationships in which you tie your identity to either someone else's opinion of you or your ability to fix or rescue them reflect the fact that you've made that other person an idol in your life. Only God truly has the power to shape your identity or fix or rescue another person. God alone can meet your deepest relationship needs. So confess and repent of idolatry in your life, and move God to His rightful place at the center of your life as the one you love most. Invest more time and energy into nurturing your relationship with God than you do into any other relationship. When God becomes your top priority in life, all of your relationships with people will become healthier as a result. Enjoying a close relationship with God will make you sensitive to any sin (such as destructive ways of relating to others) that interferes with that relationship, and motivate you to grow closer to God every day.

Pray to break relationship strongholds of sin in your life.

Ask God to help you identify specific strongholds of sin that are affecting your relationships. Then pray about each of those strongholds, confessing and renouncing the sins that relate to them and exercising your God-given authority over evil. Ask God to release you and the people you're in relationships with from all negative spiritual forces associated with each stronghold. Thank God and receive the forgiveness He offers you. Follow God's guidance to make appropriate restitution to any people you've wronged through your past sins.

Hold up mirrors of truth and love to your relationships.

Evaluate the state of your relationships regularly by considering how well they do or don't line up with biblical principles, by asking the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom regarding your relationships, and by discussing your relationships with some trusted friends who support your healing process and will speak the truth to you. Each of these practices is like holding up a mirror to relationships so you can see them more clearly from God's perspective.

Base your identity on your relationship with God through Jesus.

When your identity is rooted where it should be – in God's love for you – you'll gain the confidence you need to develop a more secure style of relating to others, such as boldly identifying and communicating your thoughts and feelings to them.

Choose to trust wisely.

Ask God to give you the discernment you need to know when to trust people and when they're not worthy of your trust. Decide to trust the most important people in your life to God, who has much more power than you do to help them.

Take responsibility appropriately.

Pray for the wisdom to know which responsibilities are truly yours to handle, and which are not. Then take back responsibility for your own decisions from others who have inappropriately tried to control you, and set boundaries to protect yourself from taking on responsibilities that other people should be handling.

Confront people with whom you want to change your relationships.

You must speak the truth to people with whom you've shared dysfunctional relationships, so you can work to change those relationships for the better. Don't expect the people you confront to be happy about it; they'll likely be upset at first and try to convince you to stop your efforts to change your relationship with them. Stay strong, however, and eventually they may learn new, healthier ways of relating to you. Prepare a written agenda for your meetings with people, and focus only on a few major issues in your relationship instead of every way you all have hurt each other. Speak calmly, listen carefully, and clarify what people say to you. Apologize for what you've done wrong and ask people to reflect on how they've wronged you and pray about what God may want them to do about it.

Pursue forgiveness.

Ask the people you've hurt to forgive you, and follow God's command to forgive the people who have hurt you. But keep in mind that, while forgiveness is a gift you give people, people must earn your trust back over time.

Look toward the future with hope.

You can be hopeful about the future as long as you remain committed to renewing your mind with thoughts that reflect biblical truth and relating to others in healthy ways. Over time, you can fulfill more of God's purposes for your relationships.

Editor's Note: Based on the book, 'Break Through: When to Give In, How to Push Back: The Moment that Changes Everything' by Tim Clinton and Pat Springle (Worthy Publishing, 2012).

About The Authors:

Tim Clinton, LPC, LMFT, is the founder of Light University Online. A licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist, he is also professor of counseling and executive director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University.

Pat Springleis the founder of Baxter Press and coauthor of the classic work Codependency. Pat served on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ and was an executive at Rapha Treatment Centers. Springle has authored and coauthored more than 50 books.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a contributing writer and the editor of's site on angels and miracles.

Source: Live It Devotional

Family Special: Digging Out of a Little Sin

by Mary Ann Jeffreys

Scripture: Joshua 7:1–26

"Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions."
Joshua 7:11

I'm tempted to cry, "Not fair!" upon reading the story of Achan. First, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal for him to have taken some treasure as reward for victory in battle. And second, all of the Israelites were held responsible for the sin of one man who had stolen and hidden plunder after the battle of Jericho against God's direct command. Because of the "small" sin of one man, God punished all of Israel by withdrawing his blessing and allowing the people to be humiliated and defeated at the battle of Ai.

I remember when my young children would complain that a punishment was too harsh for their "teeny" disobedience. I'd bring up Adam and Eve's teeny bite of the forbidden fruit. I'd ask them how many bites of the fruit it would have taken to become a punishable act. They got it—that it's not the size of the disobedience but the meaning behind it that's the problem. Like Achan, Adam and Eve disrespected God by their disobedience.

Likewise, in marriage, individual actions reflect one's commitment to the marriage covenant. When I'm tempted to do something selfish, I ask myself two questions: (1) "How would I feel if Grey did this?" and (2) "How would I feel if our children found out?" I'm stopped in my tracks every time. So, something like an "innocent" email exchange with an old flame is now revealed to my own heart for what it is: betrayal.

Sin in marriage is not an individual issue. It affects the marriage relationship, the wider family and also the entire community. Who would deny that infidelity and divorce have wreaked havoc upon millions of children and ripped the fabric of our society? In the same way, Achan's selfish act ripped the fabric of Israel's relationship with God.

Achan's other sin was the cover-up; he deceitfully hid the plunder he had stolen. But eventually the truth was revealed, just as it is in twenty-first-century families. A woman writes in her journal about her intimate relationship with another man. She thinks no one will ever know. But one day her husband does the unthinkable; he decides to clean all the books on the bookshelf and discovers the diary behind the dusty volumes. Or a husband thinks he can cover his gambling losses by taking greater risks that promise bigger payoffs. But when the bank statement arrives with a negative balance—and his wife gets the mail—the whole family suffers the painful consequences of financial loss.

Achan's lesson still holds true: Everyone loses in the sin game.

Let's Talk

What steps will we take to stay honest with each other about money, friends, and recreational activities? In what areas have we been less than fully honest?

What effect might "hidden" sins have on our marriage if we continue doing them for several months or even years?

What "no big deal" sins are we willing to overlook in our relationship? If we continue doing them, what or who might then bring them to light?

Source: Today's reading is from the NIV Couple's Devotional Bible by Zondervan; Bible Gateway

Inspirational: Blind Man and Wife
A man married a beautiful girl. He loved her very much. One day she developed a skin disease. Slowly she started to lose her beauty. It so happened that one day her husband left for a tour. While returning he met with an accident and lost his eyesight. However their married life continued as usual. But as days passed, she lost her beauty gradually. Blind husband did not know this and there was not any difference in their married life. He continued to love her and she also loved him very much.

One day she died. Her death brought him great sorrow. He finished all her last rites and wanted to leave that town. A man from behind called and said, 'now how will you be able to walk all alone? All these days your wife used to help you.'

He replied, 'I am not blind. I was acting, because if she knew l could see her ugliness it would have pained her more than her disease. So I pretended to be blind. She was a very good wife. I only wanted to keep her happy.'

Moral: Some times it is good for us to act blind and ignore one another's short comings, in order to be happy No matter how many times the teeth bite the tongue, they still stay together in one mouth. That's the spirit of FORGIVENESS.

Even though the eyes don't see each other, they see things together, blink simultaneously and cry together. That's UNITY.

" May God grant us all the spirit of forgiveness, unity and togetherness."

1. ''Alone I can 'Say' but together we can 'Talk'.

2. "Alone I can 'Enjoy' but together we can Celebrate.

3. 'Alone I can 'Smile' but together we can 'Laugh'.
That's the BEAUTY of Human Relations. We are nothing without each other.


The razor blade is sharp but can't cut a tree; the axe is strong but can't cut the hair.

MORALS: Everyone is important according to his/her own unique purpose.... Never look down on anyone unless you are admiring their shoes......

Source: K. George

Out Of The Cocoon: Transformation

by Wes Hopper

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but we rarely admit the changes that it has gone through to achieve that beauty."
- Maya Angelou

Significant personal change is one of the most intense and difficult transformational processes that we are called to go through, but when it's happening to someone else we have no trouble minimizing the physical and psychological effort involved. That's because the transformation is taking place out of sight, in the cocoon.

It's a different story, though, when it's OUR transformation. We have to live with the mental, physical and psychological shifts and try to puzzle them out, usually by ourselves. What we really need is an expert listener!

The difference between an expert and an amateur listener is simple - the expert asks questions, and the amateur offers suggestions. Most people would say it's just the opposite. But, since it's your life, your problems and your decisions, answering questions helps to lead you to your answers.

The caterpillar transforms to the butterfly through the rules of nature, but we're not that fortunate. We have to figure it out. That's another way to get you to pick what's right for you, and that's always the best choice.

Source: Gratitude


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