More on Relationships
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."1
Of all the requests for help from Daily Encounter readers, most have to do with impaired relationships. One of the toughest issues to deal with seems to be in the area of forgiving those who have hurt us.
For example another reader writes, "I have been dealing with an issue for some time. I was hurt deeply by two friends, but have never received an apology from them for what they did. I am trying to forgive and forget but haven't been able to. I have prayed about it because I don't want to become consumed with anger, but the pain is still there. What can I do?"
I guess most of us have been in a similar situation, and, if not yet, sooner or later we will be. So how do we handle this type of issue?
As the Bible encourages us, it is helpful to go to the person who has hurt us, and share with him/her how we feel. However, when we do this, it is important not to go with a blame-game-attitude. This is because what they did is their issue, but how we react and feel is always our issue and responsibility. We need to tell the person who has hurt us that we appreciate and value their friendship, but that we feel very hurt. We need to admit that our feelings are our problem; explain why we feel hurt; and say that we would like to talk things over so we can resolve our feelings.
This is usually the best approach wherever possible—and we have the courage to do it! There is no guarantee, however, that the offending party will respond favorably. But once we have done our part (as long as it is in a caring and mature manner), the rest is up to them. However, if they or we are immature, it may make matters worse! That's always a risk to take in seeking to resolve impaired relationships.
Either way, it is imperative that we resolve our feelings. If we don’t, our hurt and anger may cause us to become resentful, and affect us physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually. If we can't resolve our conflict the first way, and still can't resolve our feelings and genuinely forgive, we need to talk to an understanding pastor, or if necessary, to a qualified Christian counselor who will help us work through and resolve our feelings.
However, before we do anything, we need to ask God to reveal to us the truth of what we may be contributing in any way to the conflict we are in. This is critical because (as already noted) what others do to us is their problem or issue, but how we react is always our issue and our responsibility. Furthermore, to the degree we overreact, if we do, that is always our problem. Remember, too, that supersensitive people who have unresolved hurts from the past, will inevitably overreact in one way or another, either by exploding and lashing out at others, or by imploding and turning their hurt and anger in on themselves and stay hurt, become resentful, and even physically ill.
Impaired relationships can be and are very destructive to ourselves and others, and are the cause of many illnesses—relational, physical, emotional, and/or spiritual. This is why the Bible encourages us to not allow the sun to go down while we are still angry, and to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.
NOTE: For further help see "Forgiveness: The Power That Heals," http://tinyurl.com/3bw3q3.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to never forget that I live in a broken world where all people, including myself, have frailties and are struggling at some level to find more loving relationships. Please help me to keep growing in Christian love and learn how to handle every impaired relationship in a mature, Christ-like manner, and in so doing be an example for others to follow. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name amen."
1. Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV).