By Mindy Fitterling, Crosswalk.com
We have all, at some point or another, felt the pain of a damaged relationship. Whether it be a parent, child, coworker or friend, we have hurt and been hurt. We try to forget about the issue and avoid the idea of reconciling the relationship. Our lives are busy and we can find ourselves distracted. Sometimes we are filled with pride and cannot see the perspective of another. Sometimes we avoid our sins and downfalls like the plague.
Broken relationships are the result of a broken world. They are bound to happen. Yet the disappointment, heartbreak, and emptiness never seem to sting us any less. When this happens, there are two reactions that follow: locking our heart to future hurt or grappling with the process of forgiveness.
“Forgive us of our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” we say in the Lord’s Prayer. As Christians if we choose to follow a Christ-like life, we cannot lock our hearts to hurt. We must choose the path to forgiveness every time. What does that look like? Where do we even begin?
If you're wondering how to reconcile a relationship, these 10 steps should have make the process towards forgiveness possible:
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1. Emotionally (and physically) step back.
Sometimes, out of sheer desperation, we find ourselves overcrowding our thoughts and hearts with a relationship gone wrong. Where did we go wrong? What could we have done to avoid this? Will the relationship be able to recover?
It exhausts us! When we emotionally, and even physically, step back from a relationship, we are able to come to grips with our current emotional and spiritual state. We are able to understand ourselves and our situation with a more rational perspective. We are able to better take care of ourselves.
The answer to mending relationships never begins with impatience or a distracted heart. Jesus tells us, “Peace be with you,” for a reason!
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2. Go to church.
What better place to begin cleansing your soul than with Jesus? Church is not made for the perfect, it is a place for the sick. It is a house for those that need healing.
Even if it takes all of you--loneliness, heartbreak, defeat and all--take a seat and listen to Word. Listen to the message for the service. God knows every corner of your heart. How is He using this time for your spiritual, emotional, and physical healing?
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3. Examine your conscience.
There are two sides of every story. Because there is hurt, misunderstanding, and pain in a certain relationship, there is dissonance in the stories. Without excuses, where have you fallen short in this relationship? Where might you have sinned?
None of us are perfect. When your child screamed at you, did you scream back? When your friend did something that disagreed with you, did you gossip? When your parents asked something of you, did you disobey? When your coworker asked for a favor, did you make an excuse (lie)?
Understand your faults. As the saying goes, the first step to recovery is admitting there is a problem.
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4. Find solutions.
Once you understand your faults, find the solutions.
So your child has a temper and can lash out; how can you de-escalate the situation in the future? So your friend is behaving unfavorably; can you make time to sit down and confront the situation?
How can you remain an example of Christ in situations that have headed south or are heading south fast?
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5. Practice your virtues.
It is not enough to call ourselves Christian by name. We are also required to act like it. In the breaking points, when we find ourselves at our wit’s end, our pride can be at an all-time high. Why can’t they see my side? Don’t they see how much they hurt me? They have to apologize first.
In these moments, it is most important to practice humility. It’s important to practice our patience. It’s important to show perseverance and not give up. Jesus humbled himself for us, dying on a cross. Jesus is patient with us through our sins and setbacks. Jesus pursues us again and again, no matter how many times we fail him.
To follow Christ, we must follow in His example in all aspects of our lives and act as he would.
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6. Communicate with contrition.
Contrition: the state of feeling remorse. In some situations, we will need to be the first to reach out. At this point, we’ve reflected on the relationship. We understand what went wrong and we know the ideal solution.
From here, we have to step back into the ring. We must face our loved one--family, friend or coworker--and communicate with contrition. This requires serious humility and patience. When we communicate with contrition, we show our loved ones that we value their relationship over our differences and past transgressions.
We are sorry for the turn our relationship has taken, and we want to recover from it.
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7. Worry about yourself.
Now that you’ve reached out and put your feelings on the table, you have to turn the possession over to the loved one. “The ball is now in their court.”
Remember that we cannot change the hearts and minds of others; we can only worry about ourselves. We are just in control of our decisions and we do not fully understand how the Lord is working in this situation. Do not try to control the conversation. Do not be disappointed if it does not go according to plan.
Remember what Jesus tells us, “Peace be with you.”
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8. Give it time.
Let’s be honest: Depending on the relationship, it may not be restored right away. If this relationship has been damaged for a long time, there is healing that the loved one will have to go through in order to bring their best self back to you.
Remember that you have built yourself up for this moment. It is their turn to take personal stock of their emotional and spiritual state. Sometimes all we can do is show patience and a willingness to cooperate and support the other.
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9. Increase your prayer life.
Remember that God is bigger than our problems. There is nothing we have to hide or withhold from Him. He knows our hearts and He wants us to spend forever with Him. None of this can happen if we do not pursue a relationship with our Heavenly Father.
The Lord listens to our prayers and He wants to answer them. He wants to be engaged in our everyday life. Keep the Lord close through your time of healing. Ask the Holy Spirit to come into this relationship and restore it. We are children of the Great Physician and He will make all things new.
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10. Love, love, love. Repeat.
Finally, do not forget to shower your relationships with love and compassion. Answer every situation with love, just as the Lord answers to us with only love. Broken relationships are hard; they hurt and we hate to suffer. Yet Jesus suffered for us so that we could be saved. Let us suffer for those we love, because these relationships are worth saving too.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Mindy Fitterling is a recent college graduate from St. Louis, Missouri. She now works in IT Security for a Healthcare company in Nashville, TN. When she is not fighting cyber crime by day, she is snuggling with her puppy and writing for young women on her personal blog, Women For Higher (womenforhigher.com).
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