What Boats Can Teach Us About Healthy Relationships  

Relationships can be overwhelming. We all want relationships, but how do you know if your relationship is a good one? What does a healthy relationship even look like?

We hear expressions from Hollywood like, “You complete me,” we sing along with the radio, “I can’t live if living is without you,” we believe that “love means, I should be willing to do anything for you.” Is it any wonder we are slightly confused as to how to create a healthy relationship?

Here is an excerpt from my new book, Peace For a Lifetime, that shares what boats can teach us about healthy relationships. Yes – boats. Boats are interesting things. They have an individual identity. They have to maintain their seaworthiness and safety in a sizeable and often turbulent ocean. Boats can teach us a lot about how we as individuals engage in relationships. Boats can also offer us a better understanding of what healthy relationships should and should not look like.

I describe a picture of myself in a relationship as if I were in a boat that is floating in the ocean. I as an individual am in the center of my boat. I may be in a relationship with others, and if they are healthy relationships, they are in the center of their boats, too. Everyone is safe, anchored in Christ, connected with one another.

However, there are many relationships I encounter where someone I love is not in their boat. They are treading water in the ocean surrounding the boat. They do not realize they are drowning, but from my position in my boat, I can see they are drowning. The waves are crashing all around them. The wind is blowing, and the powerful current threatens to pull them under the water.

Because I love my family and friends, I desperately want these people in the boat with me. I know the boat is good and strong. The boat provides the necessary safety and security for my journey. So I make my way to the edge of the boat in order to throw out a life preserver. I try to lean over the edge to reach out to them, but they are just beyond my reach. My efforts are noble and helpful, but at the point I risk falling out of the boat myself while trying to rescue them, I am then useful to no one and in jeopardy of drowning myself.

In order to be the most helpful to the ones I love, in order to have the greatest chance of successfully rescuing or influencing them, I must remain safely centered and stable in my boat. I must make sure I am healthy before I can ever attempt to establish a healthy connection with someone else.

How could I love my family and friends well if I am not able to love and care for myself well? The answer is, I couldn’t. I must make sure that I am safely grounded in my boat, that I know my identity and have created a safe place for my authentic self to flourish, that I am actively pursuing my passions and purpose as I live out my beliefs and values with clarity and courage.

For many of you, that concept sounds terrifying, completely foreign to anything you’ve ever experienced. You are not alone. You don’t have to continue living in relationships that demand too much, give too little and leave you feeling hopeless that life could be different.

Life can be different! I share simple, practical life steps in my book, Peace For a Lifetime, that can help you understand the life God desires for you. This material can help you create and experience an indestructible peace in your life and relationships; peace – not just for today, not just for tomorrow, you can experience peace…for a lifetime!

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