Maybe somebody said, “It’s not you, it’s me” while breaking up with you or ending a friendship. Maybe you yourself have even said it! “I’m sorry, but our relationship isn’t working out. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not you, it’s me.”
I wrote How to Gently Break Up With Someone You Don’t Love Anymore for a She Blossoms reader who asked for help with a breakup. She wanted to end her relationship because it wasn’t healthy or good. Her boyfriend was unkind — even emotionally abusive — but she couldn’t say “it’s all about you.” She had to pull the “it’s not you, it’s me” card.
The truth is that a relationship breakdown is almost always about both people. Both partners are involved in the relationship, and both have contributed to its faltering or failure in different ways. It’s the same in a healthy, thriving relationship! Both partners are committed to contributing to its growth and flourishing. That’s what makes love thrive and blossom.
The most important way to build a healthy relationship, whether with your spouse, family member, friend or even a coworker, is for both partners to make sacrifices. A sacrifice might be agreeing to raise your kids in a certain faith, or going to Hawaii instead of Iceland on vacation. A sacrifice might be attending a boring retirement party, but agreeing to leave early. A sacrifice might be changing how you spend money, or how often you go out with your friends, or where you go to church.
Regardless of what the specific sacrifices are, sacrifices must be made. If you want a healthy, fulfilling, meaningful relationship with someone you love then you must make sacrifices.
It’s the same with you and God.
What If It Really Is “All About You”?
This blog post is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project; I’m writing an article for every chapter in every book of Scripture. I’m moving through the book of Leviticus now; it’s not the easiest book of the Bible to blog about, but I suspect Numbers will be even harder! So I’m not suffering yet…but I am sacrificing 🙂
1. Sometimes it’s not him…it really is you
Leviticus 3:1 says, “When his offering is a sacrifice of a peace offering, if he offers it of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord.” This sacrifice the Israelites were to make to God was also know as the “Fellowship Offering.” What is fellowship? Friendship, relationship, togetherness, connection. And when you’re relating to God, it’s also gratitude, reverence, and humble adoration. “The sacrifice of well-being is offered by the individual as an expression of joy, gladness, gratitude or relief,” write the commentators in the Jewish Study Bible. “Well-being offerings are thus the natural expression of gladness, the worshipper celebrating by feasting in the presence of God in acknowledgement of His loving-kindness.” The Fellowship Offering was not an offering to make peace with God (this is the purpose of the sin offering in Leviticus 4) but an offering to enjoy peace with God.
Relationship sacrifices are meant to change you, not him. God required the Israelites to make sacrifices not because God needed the offering, but because the sacrifice changed the Israelites. Making an offering of the first fruits of the fields or the unblemished animals of the herd made a difference in the Israelites’ lives. It reminded them who their Creator was and how much they owed to Him. In a relationship with God, the sacrifices of prayer, devotion, loyalty, forgiveness and all the rest are all about you. Your sacrifices change who you are and how you relate to God and others. It’s the same in a relationship with a man you love: your good, healthy, wholehearted sacrifices change you, not your boyfriend or husband. If you’re trying to change him by offering different things (eg, unhealthy sacrifices such as manipulative love, money, appeasements), then you’re trying to control him. That’s when it’s about you, not him…and that’s when it’s an unhealthy relationship.
2. Pay attention to the effect you have on your relationships
The purpose of Leviticus 3 (and the whole book of Leviticus) is to provide instruction and laws to guide a sinful yet redeemed people in their relationship with a holy God. Leviticus emphasizes the need for personal holiness in response to God. Sin must be atoned for through the offering of proper sacrifices. Just as importantly, the people of God — the Israelites back then, 1400 years before Christ, and Christian believers today — are to be circumspect in their personal, moral, and social living. This means living thoughtfully, carefully, and wisely. The sacrifices of the Israelites in Leviticus helped them continually remember His holiness, gifts and blessings. And their remembrances not only cost them something, they were supposed to affect their relationship with God.
What if your relationship problems and breakdowns really are “all about you”? Earlier I said that both partners contribute to the health or breakdown of a relationship…but both partners do not contribute exactly equally. When someone says “it’s not you, it’s me” during a breakup, the truth may be that it really was you. It’s just that he couldn’t admit it because he didn’t want to hurt you or cause further problems. He just wanted to leave the relationship quickly and easily, so he sacrificed himself by taking the blame for the breakup. Of course, it’s always possible that it really is “all about him” and not you! But if you want to grow healthier and wiser, you need to look at your contribution to the relationship failure.
3. How you do one thing is how you do everything
Leviticus 3 says nothing about the attitude, heart, or manner of the Israelites’ Fellowship Offering; I assume that if someone was making a sacrifice of well-being, then he or she was truly expressing joy, gladness, gratitude or relief. The worshipper was celebrating something good or happy by feasting in the presence of God and acknowledging His loving-kindness. The Fellowship or Peace Offering it was an enjoyment of shalom with God. How an Israelite sacrificed the Peace Offering to God — the attitude of her heart, mind, spirit and soul — may reflect her attitude toward other people.
Your relationship with God mirrors your relationship with others. “How you do one thing is how you do everything,” says Franciscan priest Richard Rohr. I found this to be true in my own life: my relationship with God was distant, guarded and indifferent. So were my relationships with people. Now I’m slowly discovering that as I get into a closer and deeper relationship with God, I also get closer and deeper with the people I love. My husband, my friends, even my family….how I am in relationship to them is a reflection of how I am in relationship to God. It really is “all about me” in this area. I’m getting healthier spiritually, more grounded in God’s love for me. This spills over into all my relationships.
This blog post wasn’t supposed to give you a definite answer to the “What if it really is all about me?” question. In fact, you may be more confused than ever! If so, I’m sorry. It was a bit of a random approach to Leviticus and my She Blossoms Through the Bible project.
But, I hope you see that your actions — including the sacrifices you make in your relationships and what you expect in return — really are about you. If you can see and own how you affect people around you, then you will grow into a healthier woman.
Even more importantly, know that your offerings of prayer, forgiveness, thanksgiving, love, faith and devotion to Jesus aren’t actually sacrifices for Him. Rather, they’re ways for the Holy Spirit to guide you along the path into more joy, peace and love than you ever believed possible.
If you’re not blossoming into the woman God created you to be, read 3 Ways to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Relationship With Jesus.
With His love,