Browsed by
Month: March 2020

Red Flags & Warning Signs

Red Flags & Warning Signs

Red flags and Warning signs

Love is blind.  It has also been accused of being deaf and mute.  There is good reason people have attached these labels to such a wonderful word.  When we love someone we tend to overlook their shortcomings and even hurtful words or actions directed at us.  While it is commendable to overlook a transgression it can also be dangerous to ignore these red flags & warning signs.  We tend to forgo seeking an apology.  We avoid bringing up the matter in the hope that things will just work themselves out.  A common statement after a relationship ends is, “I saw this coming a long time ago,” or “I knew this was going to happen.”  Welcome to Red Flags & Warning Signs.

In healthy families things are worked out.  The offender recognizes their mistake and either through word or deed, apologizes.  “…love covers over a multitude of sin.”  First Peter 4:8.  When we love sacrificially, we are willing to forgive.  We don’t run around telling others what has been done by our brother or sister in Christ, nor does it mean that we should sweep it under the rug.  There are those who will take advantage of the forgiving nature of love in an effort to hide egregious sins.  True Christ like love seeks to protect both the victim and the offender and takes action to prevent any further offences.  It is important to acknowledge the hurt when it happens.  At that point we really only have two choices, overlook it or deal with it.

When a once close relationship ends, it has usually been a long time coming.  Looking back, even as far as your childhood, you may now recognize a traumatic event as a foreshadowing of things to come.  If you were a child of divorce, did you have to live with relatives or your God parents for a period of time?  Did your new stepparent accept you as one of their own, or were you threatened with boarding school?  As a child, you don’t even know what a red flag is, much less have the power to do anything about it.  Our heavenly Father keeps a close eye on children.  Thinking back, do you remember those who protected you, those who watched out for your best interests?  God put them there.  Blended families have become common place in today’s society and growing up in one can be complicated and challenging.  It is important to remember that, before God, stepparents have the same responsibilities as your biological parents.

Emotional Abuse

That persistent feeling of being on the outside looking in whenever you’re with your family is a major red flag.  Emotional abuse is at the top of the list as the major contributing factor in family estrangement.  At it’s core, it’s all about power and control.  Feeling uncomfortable, insecure or anxious around your family is not a good sign of an emotionally healthy environment.  If you find yourself constantly seeking reassurance that you’re part of the family it’s a good bet that you have toxic family members who are actively engaged in a campaign against you.  We all have our own ideas of what a toxic person is but narcissism and other personality disorders are often sighted as underlying reasons for the label.  Abusive and emotionally immature personalities along with alcoholic or addicted individuals are also referred to as “toxic.”  The first step in moving on from the psychological torture of toxic people is to recognize their tactics.

Jealousy and envy

Jealousy and envy are major contributing factors of family dysfunction.  Victims often feel blindsided by the sudden on-slot of abusive behaviour from a loved one because they have no idea what they’ve done or why it’s happening.  Rarely is any explanation given by the offender and the punishment is often way out of proportion to the perceived slight.  This may have nothing to do with anything the victim has actually done.  A few examples of this could be favouritism by grandparents, success in business or just doing well in life period…who knows.  A person motivated by jealously and/or envy will wait for any excuse, no matter how lame, to pounce on their victim.  Character assassination is a common tactic used by abusers.  They will begin a campaign of malicious gossip to anyone who is willing to listen, starting with those inside their circle of influence.  Covert character assassination is a cowardly act designed to negatively influence how others feel about the victim.  The abuser will use a combination of truth,  half truths and outright lies behind the victim’s back in an effort to get others to “see what they see.”  This is extremely painful when done to your spouse.  If you recognize what’s going on and confront the abuser you are likely to be met with total denial and anger as they try to turn the tables on you.  They may be trying to “divide and conquer” in an effort to drive a wedge between you and your spouse.  Can you see why God hates those who sow discord?  Proverbs 6:16-19.  Typically these offenders are projecting onto the victim the very things that lie deep inside their own hearts.  Feelings of insecurity and vulnerability have made them uncomfortable.  They look for anything and everything they can use as an excuse to banish the victim from their lives.  Whenever someone complains to me about what another person has done, I always suggest that they take it up with that person in private.  This lets them know that I’m not interested in gossip.

Lack of Empathy

An inability or unwillingness to care about how your feeling or why you are feeling that way is another warning sign of impending estrangement.  Empathy is a critical ingredient in the healing process, without it there can be no meaningful or lasting reconciliation.  People who lack empathy see others as mere objects to be manipulated and controlled for their own benefit.  They have a very difficult time understanding how their words and actions hurt others and are prone to angry outbursts and cruelty.  It’s very much all about them.  They refuse to take any responsibility for their behaviour and will lie if confronted.  If they claim to be a Christian, then they know the consequences of lying, but do it anyway.  Their anger at you will increase because, after all, it was you who made them lie.  Can you see how mind bending this type of situation can be?  If you continue to confront their abusive behaviour they will see you as a threat, one that has to be removed.  My friend, listen to me carefully;  This is not love lost, love doesn’t even come into it.

Control & Manipulation

Typically, a dysfunctional family consists of one abusive parent and one codependent parent who looks the other way.  This is not what God intended the family unit to look like.  The Bible describes the role of both husband and wife in Ephesians 5:22-25.  Sadly this very scripture has been abused by some in an effort to manipulate the other.  While each parent has a different part to play, God’s intention is that they work together in love, compassion, forgiveness and patience both with each other and their children.  Children learn from their parents.  When they witness abuse by the dominant parent and the weaker parent turns a blind eye they may even begin to believe that it’s their fault.  Young children have no other basis of comparison, but as they get older the sins of the abusive parent can no longer be ignored.  It is a common lament among estranged family members that someone would have come to their rescue and stood up against the abuser.

Red flags and warning signs of impending estrangement may begin with relatively small and insignificant provocations but can increase over time to major acts of cruelty, even total abandonment.  Sibling rivalry happens naturally, of course, but it can also be fostered by a jealous parent.  An example of this might be pictures of your siblings and their children being displayed prominently in your parents home while the only picture of you and your family is taken down because the frame is too nice.

Malicious gossip about your spouse is passed on to you from your own parent.  This is when your very spirit is provoked.  You try your best to defend them, you long for your spouse to be loved and accepted by your family but the disparaging remarks continue.  Like a “constant dripping,” the instigator is relentless and can turn your entire family against you.  Any attempt to bring peace and understanding is met with resistance and even angry outbursts.  This leads to “no further discussions on the matter” and exclusion from family gatherings.  For all intents and purposes…you’re out.  The abuser will frequently play the victim in an effort to turn the tables on you.  They will try and convince anyone who asks, that you are the cause of all their woes and that they are brokenhearted by the situation.  Even after you’re gone … the lies continue.

Often we put off asking the hard questions because we are terrified of the answers.  Oddly, deep inside, we already know the truth.  My friends, listen to me carefully;  if you suspect something is amiss in a close relationship, you owe it to yourself and your family to deal with it sooner rather than later.  In healthy families there should be no fear of, or resistance to, honest questions being asked by any of it’s members.  Secrets are extremely harmful to families but speaking the truth in love brings understanding and healing.  Don’t be afraid of asking the tough questions.  Hope for the best, be prepared for the worst and if the worst comes…accept it, embrace it, mourn the loss and move on.  This can take many years, but the healing begins with acceptance.  The Bible says “… as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Romans 12:18.  If you have done everything that God would have you do to bring peace and healing to a broken relationship, then before Him, your conscience is clear.  That’s all any of us can hope for.

If you have enjoyed this post please bookmark us or add us to your home screen.  If you know someone who is struggling and you think this blog might help them please share our site.


Images – Pixabay – collage by Mark Webb – What does it mean that love covers a multitude of sins?


Enemies of Peace

Enemies of Peace

Confronting the enemy

“You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel.”  – Johnny Depp

If you choose to love, you will experience pain.  Not loving leads to a lonely, unfulfilled and wasted life.  Love is not an option, it’s a command and as such, it is never a waste of time.  Jesus tells us the first and second greatest commandments in Luke 10:27.  Welcome to Enemies of Peace.

Love is precious, it is wonderful and extremely powerful, but love has enemies.  When they show up at your door, peace seems to vanish.  If we allow them in for too long, they may never leave.  As diverse and complicated as relationship issues are, I believe the list of things that cause these problems is relatively short.  The following topics are three of these relationship killers, and as such, are enemies of peace.  The same things that hamper and destroy our relationships with each other can also do likewise with our relationship with Christ and topping the list is pride.


The seven deadly sins are a group of vices with each one directly giving birth to a host of other immoralities, chief among them is pride.  Towering Christian teachers throughout history like Calvin, Luther and C.S. Lewis along with many others all agreed that it is “the great sin.”  It was through pride that Eve fell victim to the devil’s lies and bit into the forbidden fruit that caused all mankind to fall and through pride Lucifer was cast out of heaven and became the devil.  So what is it about pride that leads to such devastating consequences?

Pride causes us to elevate ourselves beyond our place as God’s own creation and leads us to depend entirely on our own abilities.  This pushes God into second or third or even tenth place in our lives and can even remove Him altogether.  This lies at the heart of “new age” teaching and is gaining a lot of traction these days convincing people that they can be their own god.  It’s easy to spot in the rich and famous, business leaders, politicians and even in some church leaders, but I assure you, it exists in all of us.

Pride is the most destructive and effective weapon in the devil’s arsenal, it is the complete “anti-God” state of mind.  Spiritual darkness grows as people push God aside and make themselves the centre of their own world.  In their minds they are the smartest person in the room, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-important and totally self-sufficient.  Arrogant and sometimes abusive behaviour follows and relationships suffer, families are destroyed and nations go to war.  Pride is at the heart of racism and intolerance in the world to this day.  Even as believers we are vulnerable to it’s allure.  The apostles themselves argued with each other about which one of them was the greatest in Luke 22:24-27.  If even those who walked the earth along side Jesus can fall victim to pride, so can we.

Humility is the only known antidote for pride.  An excellent example of humility and it’s effect is given in Luke 18:9-14 and addresses the dangers of spiritual pride.  The self-righteous Pharisee was not justified before God but the sinful tax collector was.  What made the difference?  The tax collector recognized his sins and was totally dependant on God’s mercy.  In verse 14 Jesus tells us that, “…everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”  Wouldn’t it be better to work on our humility now instead of having it forced on us later?  The key ingredient when we do fall victim to pride is that we recognize it and immediately repent and forsake it.  Don’t let it grow, don’t feed it.

God hates pride and will oppose it wherever He finds it, both in believers and nonbelievers.  It is easy to spot in others yet we struggle to see it in ourselves.  God takes pleasure in our efforts to be humble but knows that we will never be sufficiently so while here on Earth.  There is no better example of humility than Jesus Christ.  This is why I can’t stress strongly enough to read your Bible.  Get to know Him, learn from His teachings and strive to be like Him.

Sinful pride makes it difficult for some of us to admit our mistakes and worse yet, the ability to say, “I’m sorry,” so critical in the healing process.  We live in a world that views humility and meekness as a sign of weakness.  I remember reading a statement years ago that stuck with me, “Meekness is great strength, under control.”  I like that.


Next on the list of relationship killers is lying.  We have all been lied to and we have all lied.  Most common among us are the “little white lies,” the ones we tell to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or to make ourselves or others feel better by avoiding criticism or condemnation.  But a case can be made that we aren’t so much worried about other people’s feelings as we are that they love us.  We don’t want to anger or upset them, that could lead to losing them.  Humanity has coined them “little white lies” because that conjures up images of innocence and non-severity and gives them an almost God like quality when done for the sake of love.  It’s a slippery slope, once we tell a smaller lie it can only be covered by a larger one.

Much  of the time we get away with it and there is no need for a cover up, so we rationalize it away as no harm done.  But what if we’re found out?  Feelings of guilt and anxiety are common side effects of lying but can lead to full blown paranoia and even depression as we become preoccupied with keeping our secrets.  Stress levels rise and peace begins to wain.  One way to avoid being exposed is to stay away from people who could spill the beans.  Sadly this results in fractured families and very distant relatives.

Our brains are amazingly complex and highly efficient.  Science has proven that when you repeat a behaviour your neurons branch out to each other so that the flow of information becomes easier the next time you do it.  “Neurons that fire together, wire together,” so the more you practice lying the easier it becomes.  You can literally re-wire your brain.

The bigger the lie, the more devastating the consequences.  Lies destroy, period.  The devil is referred to as “…the father of all lies.”  John 8:44  So if you practice lying you are brother/sister to the destroyer.  Telling the truth came naturally to Jesus and should come naturally to the redeemed, but it does take work.

Don’t think for a moment that you can get away with lying.  You may never be found out by man, but God hears your every word and knows the intentions of your heart.  I have gained much comfort from this particular verse over the years, Luke 8:17.  If you have ever been treated poorly, robbed or abandoned and the ones who are responsible seem to have gotten away with it, they have not.  The Lord will take action.  Romans 12:19

The bedrock of any solid relationship is trust.  Lying destroys trust, so we must choose our words carefully.  The Bible has many sobering references to lying.  The devastation it brings into our lives and the danger it poses to our souls.  God hates it.  Proverbs 6:16-19.


Is it okay to get angry?  Absolutely, anger is a God given emotion and some things should make us angry, but there is a caveat; don’t let your anger cause you to break God’s law.  Ephesians 4:26-27.  We are God’s image bearers, His moral law is written on every human heart and as such, what displeases Him, should displease us.

When I get angry, peace seems to vanish along with my self-control and common sense.  I have found it helpful to ask myself, “Is this something that God is not happy with (righteous anger) or is this an opportunity for Him to grow my character?  More often than not it’s the latter, a chance to work on my patience, perseverance and self-control.

Anger is an emotion that can strike quickly and with great intensity leaving little time for rational thought.  Holding your tongue and being “slow to anger” is not easy but necessary in nurturing your relationships.  It is a sure sign of Christian maturity.  Whenever I have lost my temper guilt was close behind, and, an apology was issued.  I felt shame and greatly respected those who did not respond in kind.  Worse yet than course language and temper tantrums, anger can lead to violence and hatred.

Not letting the sun go down on your anger means don’t stay angry.  One often quoted tidbit of advice at wedding receptions is, “never  go to bed angry.”  I would always add, “you can go to the couch instead.”  This always brings a laugh but it is true to the fact that not all heated disagreements can be solved the same day.  You can’t just flick a switch and suddenly become calm, it takes time to slow your heart rate and clear your head.  This is when it’s especially important to guard against that “root of bitterness.”  Not giving the devil opportunity, or a “foothold” as some translations call it means that prolonged and unresolved anger is like a door through which destruction enters.  Ephesians 4:26-27.  If you have ever been  lied to, abused or mistreated in anyway by someone you love and they aren’t the least bit sorry or remorseful for their actions then you know how easily bitterness can start.  Bitterness hurts you and those who care about you.

The more you grow in a relationship with Jesus Christ and let Him live His life through you, the less likely you are to fall for the devils schemes.  I love the saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you could fall for anything.”  This is not an exhaustive list of the enemies of peace but I believe they are the top three of many more that are birthed from pride.

If you have enjoyed this post please bookmark us or add us to your home screen.  If you know someone who is struggling and you think this blog might help them please share our site.


Image – Pixabay – The science of lying.