Relationships are hard! There, I said it. From marriage to friendships to church family, loving each other brings challenges, miscommunication, and deep wounds. What do you do with the challenges of being human?
It’s tempting to run away when words puncture our hearts. When we’re hurt over and over again we may want to light a match to burn the bridge, but Jesus wants to help. If you’re tempted to burn a bridge today, read this article on reconciliation first. God is a Father of reconciliation because we can’t be right with Him until we are right with others. (Sometimes you need boundaries. Healthy boundaries are not the same as burning a bridge.)
I’ve seen Him at work. I’ve experienced His healing. But I’m also a project in progress, and I often find myself going around the same mountain in need of grace and bridge repair. How about you? I think it’s so cool that what the enemy means for harm, God can use for good. So, if you’re struggling with a messy relationship right now, please know, God wants to first heal you and then heal the relationship.
A very wise counselor once told me to let God work on me first. When our buttons get pushed and we react in less than healthy and helpful ways, this is a red flag of our own deep issues. God never allows us to experience these without purpose. So, the next time it happens take these steps to healing:
- Journal your hurt. (Check out my journal in my store!) At the end of the entry write a prayer asking God to reveal why this is a sensitive area. Write down any answers you receive. They may come in memories rather than words. Write them down.
- Write this down and proclaim it–read with your outside voice: God loves me. He is not angry with me. He is not ashamed of me. He died for me to be healed from this wound.
- Pray for God to redeem this struggle, to turn it around for good.
- After talking with God, call a trusted, wise friend for counsel.
- Get into the Word. Use this Bite of Bread. This 31-Day Bible reading plan has 6 focuses: Reconciliation, Spiritual Warfare, Prayer, Perseverance, and Worship as you wait.
Perspective: This is War
Messy relationships are messy because we live in the middle of a spiritual battle. The enemy lives to reek havoc on our relationships. He desires to destroy marriages, families, ministries, and friendships. When you’re flailing in a painful relationship, awareness of who is really behind your pain, is paramount. Yes, we are each responsible for our words and actions, yet in my own experience, when I’ve calmed down, prayed and received council, then gone back to the “offender,” often I discover that my hurt erupted from a lack of understanding. My perception was off; the words weren’t intended as I took them.
The battle belongs to the Lord because our battle really isn’t against flesh and blood. Keep this perspective and try to believe the best in people. I am also praying not to be so sensitive and take things so personally. Maybe those prayers would help you too.
Don’t Stop Praying
Girl, I can’t tell you how important your prayers are. God. Hears. Every. One. First, pray for God to heal you, then pray for Him to heal the broken relationship. Pray for God to use this mess for something good! Do you know that everything we go through is fodder for ministry?
But in your prayer time, don’t just petition over and over. Listen for His conversation. And pray prayers of worship and praise. When you begin to handle broken relationships and your own broken heart this way, when your pain gives you the ability to empathize and encourage someone else, the enemy will back off. You become dangerous to him. Persevere in prayer when all seems hopeless.
The Waiting Game
It is so tempting to run away when things get rocky. Mike and I don’t fight very often, but when our buttons do get pushed, I just want to run. Have you ever considered leaving a church or moving to another town when someone has hurt you? Are you tempted to throw the “d” word out their when your spouse throws a zinger? It’s kind of our culture’s nature. We prefer sprints over the marathons. But relationships, especially marriages were never meant to be only a 5-K. If you feel like there is no hope, you’ve been married for 100 years and nothing has changed, don’t believe the lie. There is always hope. [Disclaimer: I’m not advocating abuse, nor am I saying divorce is always wrong. In our culture, however, it’s become a seemingly easy quick fix.] Sometimes relationships need time to heal. It’s hard to wait, but it’s worth it. Hold your tongue. Hold your heart. Reach out for help. Pray. Pray. And pray some more, and wait to see what God alone can do. Even after a marriage or relationship is shattered, God can use that pain for good. Trust Him as you wait to see His goodness in the land of the living.
The Ministry of Reconciliation
Paul wrote about this ministry. After all is said and done, life and relationships boil down to this:
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.2 Corinthians 5: 16-21
We who have said yes to Christ are reconciled to God. But God doesn’t stop there. We are not finished. With this gracious gift comes great responsibility. The way we treat one another represents Christ. The church hasn’t done this very well, but that can change with us.
Live Teaching and YouTube
I want to invite you to do life with me on Instagram! Visit with me at 11:00 AM for Faith Fridays. Each Friday I’m sharing encouragement from our Bite of Bread reading plan unpacking a verse or two from the week. I also want to invite you to my YouTube channel for further study into the topic for the month. Subscribe and hit the notification bell to know when the next video is up. A fresh teaching is published currently every Thursday.
May I pray for you? “Lord, you know how difficult relationships are. You’ve lived in our skin. You know what it’s like to be rejected, misunderstood, and cut to the heart by unkind words. I pray for eyes to see the hearts that hurt us as you see them. I pray you heal our hearts first, so we can be ministers of reconciliation. Help us not react so quickly, but help us trust you with our hearts and our relationships. Strengthen us. We love you. Help us be conduits of your love and grace. Amen.”