Tag Archives: relationship

Shared Post: Relationship Mistakes Not to Make in 2014 by Debra K. Fileta, c/o Relevant Magazine

Relationship Mistakes Not To Make in 2014

By Debra K Fileta
January 2, 2014

Debra K. Fileta is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in Relationship and Marital issues. She, her husband and two children live in Hershey, PA. She is the author of the new book True Love Dates (Zondervan, 2013), challenging young men and women to do dating in a way that is psychologically sound, emotionally healthy and spiritually grounded. Visit www.truelovedates.com and follow her on Twitter to get your dating questions answered and to learn more!

A few ways to avoid unhealthy relationships this year.

Like any year, 2013 was filled with both ups and downs.

For many, those highs and lows included some catastrophic things in the area of relationships. While some of you experienced the joy of love and healthy relationships, many others experienced a lot of pain, heart-break and the emotional ups and downs that beg for the start of a brand new year.  

Like the rest of you, I’m all for the new-ness of 2014. I’m excited to say “good riddance” to a painful year and usher in the hope of a new one. But one thing I know to be true—when it comes to relationships in particular—you can’t do the same things in the same way and expect different results.  

No matter how much you hope, pray and dream for good things this coming year, for many of you, good things will only come when you learn to make better, wiser and healthier choices.

If you’re still holding on to the hope of better relationships in the year to come, there are some mistakes that you may need to acknowledge, and then take ownership of as we approach the new year.

Here are four relationship mistakes to stop making in 2014:

Stop letting the wrong people into your life

One of the biggest relationship mistakes people make has less to do with what they do in a relationship, and more to do with who they choose to enter a relationship with.  

We can spend so much time thinking about what we want in someone of the opposite sex without ever taking the time to think through what we don’t want—and what we won’t settle for.  When it comes to finding love, there are some red flags that simply cannot be ignored for the prospect of a healthy relationship.

Think through the people you allowed into your life this year and ask yourself if they were the kind of people who built you up, or tore you down. Healthy relationships will always add more to your life than they take.

Don’t allow your physical relationship to lead the way  

As Christians, it’s easy to get sick and tired of hearing the “waiting until marriage” rhetoric. But we’re not just talking about sex here.

When it comes to dating, it’s easy to allow the physical interactions of your relationship to take the lead before you know what happened. But time and time again, I hear from both married and unmarried couples alike about the harm that encompasses those who allow their physical relationship to lead the way.There is certainly a time and place for physical affection in a dating relationship. But letting the physical lead the way will always skew your judgment, heighten your emotions and fool your concept of commitment. When the physical attributes of your relationship take control, they have the power to ruin a relationship. That’s something worth avoiding in 2014.

Stop believing that you are worth less

There is so much truth to the concept that you will always attract the kind of relationship you believe you deserve. Maybe part of the problems you had in 2013 is that you didn’t believe you are worth more. As you move into the new year, take the time to consider what you are worth and how that plays into your relationship choices.

Don’t avoid talking to God about your relationships

It’s embarrassing how simple yet profound this statement is. Why we don’t take the time to talk to the Almighty God of the Universe who knows all things and can make all things happen is simply mind-boggling to me. 

He knows what’s best for our lives, and He knows what we need to get us there. Why not go to Him for wisdom, for hope and for healing? Why not seek Him with our questions, our pain and our problems? There are many different ways you can pray for your relationships in 2014.

Don’t downplay the importance of emotional boundaries

We talk a lot about the dangers of the physical in a dating relationship, but we don’t talk much about the emotional. But in my opinion, emotional intimacy can be just as damaging as physical intimacy if we’re not careful to proceed with caution. 

As you approach 2014, maybe it’s time to take inventory of your emotional health and the boundaries you’ve put up to protect your heart. “Emotional Sex” has ruined many relationships, because your heart is precious, and something that needs to be handled with care.

Seek to set emotional boundaries in your life and protect your heart this coming year.

We’ve all made mistakes. But it’s most important that we learn from those mistakes, and then strive to never let them happen again.  

Here’s to 2014. May it be a year full of love, laughter, joy and the hope of healthy relationships.

*This article is adapted from concepts in my new book, True Love Dates.


If you liked what I shared here, please check Relevant Magazine out.

17. the family of God

familyIsrael was frequently referred to as “the children of God.” They were his chosen people and had this family relationship with God that no one on the planet had. Before Christ, all gentiles, of any pagan faith, had to convert to Judaism to be recognized as true children of God. Even dating back to Cain and Seth (the sons of Adam) we see this referenced:

Cain’s lineage was referred to as the sons of men.

Seth’s as sons of God.

And we follow the story of God’s children and their interactions with “outsiders” all through the Old Testament.

Enter Jesus.

He came to establish a new family, a family based on faith in God, not physical lineage. This was made clear from the beginning of his ministry. Read Matthew 12.

His physical family had come searching for him and when they found him, someone informed him that they had been looking – verses 48 and 49 capture Jesus’s response.

Jesus was God in flesh and he is the only one who could establish this change. There was authority in his teaching…not arrogant authority.

Authentic authority

Humble authority

When he established the last supper (communion as we observe today), it went against everything the Jews believed. He did not celebrate it with his blood relatives, but rather with his family of faith.  He identified the bread and wine as his body and blood, broken and spilled for all of mankind and thus, making a new covenant with all who walk this planet.

I don’t believe he disowned his own physical family; he was welcoming in and making room for the new family based on faith. And no matter what who my physical relation is here, I’ve been adopted into the family of God based on my faith.

And it’s that same family that I look forward to serving with, lifting up and spreading the gospel with each and every week. This family is always growing. It’s kind of like living in a house full of kids and we all get excited (and throw a party) when another finds his way home.

While God’s family is scattered all over the globe, I’m thankful for the local branch he’s given me: The Vine.


The photo above may be outdated, but we’re still there…serving together, both near and far.

I love you guys. And I thank God for each and every single one of you.


dancing with Jesus


I’ve always loved watching people beautifully and gracefully move from one end of the dance floor or ice rink to the other. I’ve even come to enjoy watching Dancing with the Stars this year, particularly Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes Jones on the hit TV series Glee. You see, she’s not what Hollywood defines as perfect. She’s not skinny. She’s not morbidly obese either. She’s real. She’s genuine.

And she’s not afraid to show it.

I love that!

I wish more celebrities were like that. The list may be short, but they impact their world more than they know, including Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen DeGeneres, Denzel Washington, Emma Stone, Jennifer Hudson, Tyler Perry, Zooey Deschanel…just to name a few.

Anyway, before I go too far with that tangent…

Have you ever watched professional dancers or skating partners? There’s an intimate dynamic that occurs between them. The crowds ooh and ah over each turn and spin, cameras flash, but the two at the center of it all don’t see it. They are focused 100% on their partner, attuned to the slightest signal, responding instantly, beautifully and effortlessly.

There is a part of me that hopes to actually experience dance one day outside of the walls and privacy of my apartment. I remember wanting to learn the art of it when I was a child but my parents couldn’t afford it…then again, I never mentioned it. I didn’t want to be a “burden.” Looking back, my choice in not voicing that dream also had to do more with fear than anything else.

You see, I lack a certain amount of physical grace. Then again, perhaps an accident-prone young woman would be gifted in that area. I might just have to find out.


  • Noun: an artistic form of nonverbal communication
  • Noun: taking a series of rhythmical steps (and movements) in time to music
  • Verb: move in a graceful and rhythmical way

Life is a dance. We get to choose the type: divine or worldly. In choosing the latter, it can be easy to perform for the applause of those around us. Girls dress a certain way to get the attention of boys. We talk a certain way because our friends do. Parents send their children to certain school because it’s what the neighbor or community does. We sometimes even watch certain TV shows or listen to a specific style of music just to fit in.

I’ve been there. I’ve done that. In high school, I dressed a certain way and listened to Limp Bizkit and Metallica (even though I secretly hated it) just so I could fit in or get a little attention. I wanted them to genuinely like me. I was sick of being the outsider, always looking in.

Thing is – any attention and most of the conversations or invitations I received were not genuine. I came to that realization when I began to learn what having a real relationship with Jesus meant…in college.

There are times I find myself riding that same carousel. Around and around I go on a seemingly endless cycle that leaves me empty and never heading anywhere.

But it doesn’t take long for me to realize that I really crave the former: a lifetime spent dancing with Jesus.

I’m wired to.

Remember the description of dancers/skaters in the midst of their act; the intimacy of it?

What if we knew God that intimately? What if we were so focused on Him, so in tune with Him, that like Jesus we could say, “I do only what my Father wills.”? What keeps us from that? What keeps us in angst; keeps us striving and experiencing burnout?

I use to focus solely on me. I sometimes still do.

And I’ve learned, and continue to learn, this important truth: human beings can only serve one thing at a time and we should not have any other idol before God (Exodus 20.3). If I’m going to proclaim I want to worship God with my life, I can’t and shouldn’t esteem the opinions of my friends (or what people in general think) more highly than God’s opinion of me.

Affirmation is a huge thing for me. Encouragement means the world to me. Those things leave me feeling full, flying “high as a kite” (so-to-speak), and feeling better equipped to take on anything that may come my way on a daily basis. They are not sinful things in their own accord, but when I begin to make them my ultimate goal in life, it becomes an idol, or a sin, and therefore, a serious problem. That feeling equipped thing is an illusion…I can’t do anything apart from Jesus (John 15.1-8 , also see Philippians 4.13).

I can either dance for His applause or I can dance for man’s applause, but I can’t do both at the same time.

This is something I’ve been wrestling with for the last couple of years (thank you Beth Moore and two of my dearest friends) and probably will continue to for some time. I know that He’s giving me more than I can handle in this morning, but there is beauty in the fact that I don’t have to face that junk alone. He’s there with me, swinging me through that next dance move.

Romans 12.1-2 has been extremely helpful to me during this time (among others) in my life:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

When we offer our lives to God as living sacrifices, He considers that worship. Dancing with Him is worship. Letting Him into your life is worship. Trusting Him with your life is worship. Life itself should be an act of worship.

I’d like to share a poem penned by Amena Brown that inspired this entry and God has also used it to further the progress Jesus is currently making in the dimly lit corners of my heart and in my life:

Dance with Him ~ Amena Brown

Dance with Him
He puts His hand on the small of my back
Two fingers pressed into the center of my palm
He pulls me close
Steps with His left, my right
I focus on His eyes and try to ignore my feet as they clumsily count one – two – three

I recall that first moment quite beautifully. The only difference is that then, I can envision placing my feet on His, as a daughter would on her father’s, as He took me around the dance floor. Oh, how easy it was to simply trust and believe then.

I can also relate to those clumsy feet. They still are, most days anyway.

Have you ever watched someone learn to dance? Watch this video – see that little girl in the middle? I can relate to her…in more ways than one. 

I’m often like that with God. I’m so focused on what I think needs to be done or on what I already know to do, whether that be reading my Bible, leading a Bible study, fulfilling other responsibilities to those around me and my church; it’s easy to take my eyes off Him. It’s easy to turn what should be an act of intimate surrender into role behavior which ultimately leads to burn-out and ineffectiveness. That happened yesterday…

Nothing went as planned and that just goes to show Who is in charge and it’s definitely not me.

When I surrender to Him, forsaking my ideas and agenda, clearing my mind of everything but Him, everything flows.

I’m trying to trust Him
He knows this dance better than me
I’m still a novice and it’s obvious
I have yet to lean in and let Him control the turns

God knows I’m trying. He definitely knows this dance better than me, little “Miss Know-It-All” that I am. This patience thing is tough.

He takes His time and even when I miss a step
It’s fine
He knows I’m learning

His patience blows me away. I can’t even fathom the depth of it all…

He wants me to put my hand in His
Close my eyes and trust Him
With my life
My heart
With worry
And “I’m so scared”
With hurt
Worth and unworthy
Loving and unlovable
And my heart has been hurt before
I have been burned before
And endured loss before
I am in no mood for a dance
No mood to be romanced
I have become a grace cynic
And love’s worst critic

This world is a beautiful, broken mess and the echoes of Eden affect every part of it . Life isn’t easy. Life hurts. And that fact makes trusting hard.

Do I trust Him with my life?
With my heart?
With my worries?
With my fears?
With my worth?
With my identity?
With my life’s purpose?
With the pen of this beautiful, broken story; the story He’s given me?

I can honestly say that most of the time, no…I don’t. There’s a huge part of me that wants to, but, in my human condition and the world I’m in make it difficult to simply make that move.

I will continue to strive to trust Him, and, by His grace, I can…One day I will…when His strength has been made complete in me (2 Corinthians 12.9).

He sends me invitations every day
And even though I have yet to RSVP
He doesn’t remind me
He keeps pursuing
Taking steps in spite of me

I always dreamt of being pursued this way. What a wondrous thing it is to realize that I am! If only I would accept this truth each and every day.

He is a songwriter
Composing the notes that hold together eternity
And He wants to teach my limbs to sing
He’s been waiting to watch me let go of woe
And worry…until my soul
Sings in that beautiful voice He gave me
That I have someone come to think
It not so beautiful

He wants me to let go. Will I? When? And I’m guilty of buying into Satan’s lie that the voice God gave me isn’t beautiful. It is!

To dance with Him
I must give in
And give up
The trust it takes to really love
And I want to love Him unbridled
Believe in Him with a faith that is unshakeable
Like tree roots centuries deep
Until I learn to follow His time
Take deep breaths
Rest my head on His chest
And my cares at His feet
But I never fear –
As long as I depend on me

“As long as I depend on me…” Funny how that works, isn’t it? It’s funny how, when we depend on ourselves, we think we’ve got it all figured out and something happens, forcing us to realize that we don’t. It happens all the time. I really should fear when I find myself making plans without Him. Yesterday is a prime example and still sticks out like a sore thumb. I had planned on coming into work early and was looking forward to an awesome new upgrade to my computer (Windows 7!) prior to the start of my shift. That didn’t happen, nor did the rest of my day go according to plan:

  • Creative juices were flowing and I wanted to finish this post – didn’t happen.
  • Project work needed to be completed – didn’t happen.

I was frustrated, found myself thinking rather negative thoughts (which is not usually the norm for me) and annoyed with the world for raining on my parade.


God spun those plans on their heads and in turn brought a fullness into the midst of that chaos with opportunities to serve my boss, my co-workers and my neighbor when I finally arrived home, not to mention those on the other end of the line on the calls I take on a daily basis.

Countless opportunities.

The frustration ebbed and my general annoyance vanished almost immediately.

God is in control.

When I live in constant surrender to Him, forsaking my ideas and agenda, clearing my mind of everything but Him, everything flows.

Take His hand
Take a chance
Fingertips in the palm of the One who holds galaxies
In His hand
Hand on His shoulder
Heart in His hand
We dance
To a down beat
That keeps time with His heartbeat
It feels like He’s letting me go
When He’s only letting me turn
And sometimes
It feels like He’s letting me fall
When He’s only letting me learn
It feels like He’s letting me go
When He’s only letting me turn
And sometimes
It feels like He’s letting me fall
When He’s only letting me learn
His is the song that never ends
His love
Sinners become friends
He wants to dance with you
Until the only Song you hear
Is Him

To be filled, we must first bet emptied – of ourselves, our sin, our wants, our desires. I believe that anytime we cling to anything – even good things – other than God, they become a hinderance to the working of the Holy Spirit. That job we fear losing, the ministry we can’t let fail, that relationship we’re afraid of letting go, whatever it is…when we begin to strive only for that thing(s) – hold tight to it – we begin to operate in our own will. To be overshadowed, we need to stay surrendered completely, focused on our Savior and not the dance itself. Our actions will otherwise lose power because we’ve left Him behind.

I’m nearing there. I’ve taken His hand. I’m learning to surrender. I’m learning to trust Him with my heart. I’m learning to let Him lead…bending, twirling, twisting, turning, falling…until the only Song I hear is Him.

Image of the Invisible God

Christ is the image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. Colossians 1:15

God is Spirit. God is invisible. And yet, He reveals Himself with increasing clearness.

He glimmers through creation and nature. We shiver with awe at the glimpses God allows us of himself in nature. He is more transparent in man, whom He created after His own Image. And because we are created in God’s image, we can also see something of him in humanity. Finally, with growing clarity through Christ who is the true Image of His Person, God in flesh. We see and know him best where God defines himself in line and form and action, and that is most explicitly accomplished in his Son, who took on human flesh. The invisible God is most visible in Jesus Christ. Through Christ, we see the Creator.

Image, not likeness. What has been sculptured conveys more reality than what has been pictured in lines and tints; it gives the full appearance; in marble or in metal the image imitates the massive form of life. And while the likeness that is drawn with pencil or brush conveys in turn the warmth of life, the glow of soul, the mobile features, which the cold, hard marble refuses to express, yet the image is more impressive, is more overwhelming by its mightier reality and tangibility.

The Scripture therefore does not speak of the likeness, but of the Image of God Who is invisible, and in this expression the whole action of religion centers itself. God gives His Image; man corrupts this Image; man wants himself to make an image of God. This desire himself to make an image of God is grievous sin; and in the end this sin reaches its utmost height, when Satan, as the Beast, as the man of sin, as the Antichrist, himself erects an image, for which he demands worship which alone is due to “the express Image of God’s person”—the Christ.

This revelation of God in His Image must not be taken in a figurative or metaphorical sense. On the contrary, it is supernatural reality. Hence the saying of Jesus to Philip (John 14:9): “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.” And hence the hope of glory for every child of God, that one day he too shall see Christ as He is, and that in seeing the glorified Christ, he shall see God Himself face to face. He shall not see Christ, and afterward and alongside of Him see God, but he shall see God in Christ.

Sin has marred the Image of God in the unregenerate beyond the point of recognition. And now God gives in Christ, in one person, His full Image in perfect clearness. And this was possible in our human nature, because from all eternity the Son was the Image of the Father, and, as by the shadow of this Image, our human nature was formed from the dust of the earth.

He, therefore, who rests content with the revelation of God in nature, depressed as it is by the curse; or he who rests content with the revelation of the spiritual being of God in man, as he is dead by sin; cannot attain unto the true knowledge of God, but must fall away into idolatry or false philosophy.

“No man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27).

Therefore Christ remains the center of our Divine worship. Not only by what He spoke, by what He did, by what He suffered, but by His own Person. The glory of the Apostles lies in what they have heard, seen and handled of the Word of life.

Let me say it this way: Christ is glory. We name ourselves after Him – Christians; He brings us salvation. His redemptive work is recorded in Scripture and still goes on. The course of world history is decided by a nations’ being for him or against Him. Peace lays over the land in His name. Good families turn dysfunctional when they neglect him.

Some claim him to be a great prophet, another Buddha, Confucius, or Mohammed; but when they do, they undermine the Christian religion and even the development of the human race. That’s a lie, after all. Any attempt to shade his glory brings night to the soul.

And while it’s forever true that in Christ we will receive eternal life, we should remember that the blessed accommodations of heaven are only furniture. The glories of eternity are not pearly gates or streets of gold. Glory for real believers is in knowing God face-to-face, in having that intimate fellowship. And that glory is, through Christ, already here. In Christ, we sense something of the glory of eternal life – now, here below! Eternity is not something that comes along only at the end of life. Eternity begins in our knowing God here. And we can know Him, most fully, through Jesus Christ.  

How? Through Scripture. Even though He’s long ago ascended, the record doesn’t lie. He was among us. Read his story, and He still comes alive. Our imaginations bring Him into our homes, our conversations, our very lives. Listen to Him speak, marvel at His parables, and it seems He is here with us, addressing, admonishing, encouraging, and comforting us – just as He did with His disciples. The story makes Him real.

But His essence isn’t just in the story, the written record. He’s given us part of Himself, His Spirit, a flame of love and sacred purpose that glows in His people. Christ came two thousand years ago, but He’s not gone. He’s here in us. He knows our names. We understand Him from the Bible, and we recognize Him in our hearts.

Christ, the image of the invisible God, doesn’t merely charm us with that image, doesn’t just show it to us to make us marvel. That’s not it at all. What He’s up to is His own sculpting job. By showing us what He is, He’s taking what we are and shaping it, molding it, giving it form and substance to this end: that the very image of God we seek, the substance of the Father, is itself made more perfect in us. Through the work of the Spirit, he’s making God visible in us.

This happens when we choose to relate with Him…to have that personal relationship with Him…and remain in Him.

On this earth, we can come to no greater knowledge of God than that which is created when Christ, himself the image of the invisible, renews that very image of the same invisible God in us.