After many decades of pastoring, I've come to realize that Christians often function very poorly in relationships. Dysfunction in relationships is so normal that when subnormal relationships become normal, they almost seems abnormal.
For example, we Christians often struggle to comprehend our full identity in Christ. It's difficult to understand that our performance in life does not define our personhood. Every one of us is a crooked stick, but none of us wishes to admit our crookedness. The flesh believes acceptance comes from our perfection. This is a lie that encourages us toward self-preservation, but in the Kingdom of God, whoever tries to save his life will lose it. God's grace will eventually enable us to crucify this desire for self-preservation, but the act of dying to self is a process, not a point in time, and it can be quite painful, rarely pleasant. "Take up your cross and follow me" is not nearly as enjoyable of an event as "Take up your picnic basket and join me." Jesus called us to the former, not the latter.
Dying to self involves the dysfunctions of our soul surfacing so that we can crucify them. Here's the good news:
Real love is best experienced in the midst of the agony of our dysfunctions dying.
The greatest intimacy with others and with God comes during those times you stop hiding your desires to be perfect, admit your crookedness, and embrace love--risking the rejection of others who relate to you based on your performance. If you are rejected in the midst of your honesty and transparency, you were relating to someone who has never fully comprehended the difference between personhood and performance. Those who reject you should feel your pity, not your anger.
It is always healthy to not hide your problems in life. In fact, I propose you should embrace them. It is in the embracing of our personal struggles and sometimes ugly stories that we really begin to be spiritually refreshed. God's love is like an artesian spring. It is never pulled by the object being loved, but flows naturally, pouring itself forcefully into the sinner He loves. It is a faithful statement and worthy of your full acceptance that Jesus Christ came to love sinners. The more you embrace your dysfunctional and crooked life, acknowledge it for what it is, and then learn to open up yourself to His unconditional and everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), the more healing your soul will find. The reign of God through Jesus Christ in you is the only answer to your feelings of helplessness, lack of identity, absence of security, and loss of control.
When it comes to relationships, we crooked Christians need to learn to be honest. Real honesty and transparency is difficult because we struggle to try to get our acceptance, signficance and security from other people, rather than God's reign in us through Jesus Christ. How do we know if we are getting our sense of worth, identity and signficance from our performance and from other people's acceptance rather than from God and His love for us through Jesus Christ?
There is a test. A good one. Ask yourself this question: "Am I attempting to control the perceptions and opinions that people have of me?"
When you are attempting to control what people think of you or how they perceive you, you will use language like: "I just really want you to think that I'm ...." or "I really don't want you to feel that I'm..." or "I am praying that don't perceive me as ...." I could give you hundreds of other statements that are clues to where you are finding your worth.
In addition, you can know you are trying to control others when you are afraid to say anything because of "How others will react." So, we are in very dysfunctional relationships when we are never honest about our feelings, our thoughts, and our thinking. Dysfunction is charactized by a paralyzing fear.
Interestingly, the people whom we desire to control the most (i.e. to control "what they think, what they feel, what they perceive") are the people we believe can hurt us the most.
Give it up. The One who counts already knows every wart, knothole and bend in the crooked stick that is your life--and He loves you. Rest in Him. Follow your call to be a servant to others and stop trying to control others. Only then will you find true health and freedom.