No matter who you are or where you come from, we all experience conflicts in relationship to some extent. There are four lessons from the loss and gain of a relationship that I want to share that can help guide you towards reconciliation and hope.
Our counselor told us that “anger is often the result of unmet expectations.” Think about it. How many conflicts could we resolve simply by changing our expectations and become more self-LESS?
This is not to say that we are doormats. If someone sins against us and it needs to be confronted, God gave us a formula to do that (see Matthew 18). But sometimes, as my dad once said, we need to let grace cover it and let it go… let it goooooo (sorry, haha)!
Learning effective COMMUNICATION in confrontation
There are times when confrontation is necessary. The first thing we have to do before confronting is examine our motives to make sure they are pure. Are we motivated out of our love for the other and a desire to reconcile – not prove ourselves right?
When working to resolve conflict with another, be willing to start with your heart first. There is power in humility. The words, “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong” can set a great tone for the rest of the conversation.
Practice the four rules of communication.
Seeking out RECONCILIATION
God is relational and He created us to be as well. If we are believers, we have been reconciled with Christ and ought to seek reconciliation with others.
If I can toot my own horn here … I am AH-mazed at my ability to justify and excuse my actions (especially in conflict). Really, I’m a pro. But God throws that to the side and puts me in my place with verses like:
Ephesians 4:22 – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Romans 12:14-21 – Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Understanding that the goal isTRANSFORMATION
The story I shared with you has a “happily ever after” ending, but that is not always the case. That ending would not have happened had God not worked in all of our hearts and we had not all submitted to Him.
In the verse above (Romans 12), did you notice that it said, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all?” We are only responsible to God for our actions and hearts. We are not responsible for anyone else. No matter the ultimate outcome with the other, seek transformation of your heart.
We must do everything we can to seek out reconciliation, but there are times the other party does not have the same desire. I say that with first-hand experience and fully empathize with you if the relationship not restored. In such a case, do all you can to obediently fulfill your responsibilities before the Lord. Pray that God might change hearts where needed (especially your own) and bring all parties together again. Be vigilant in guarding your heart against any pride and bitterness towards the other. Strive to be forgiving and loving in your thoughts and words. Wait with expectation and trust in knowing God is at work.
Paul David Tripp said, “Through difficult relationships and circumstances, God works to expose your heart so you will seek the grace that can only be found in Him” (emphasis added). God has taught me that my heart is always in need of change and His touch. When God exposes my heart, I have never found myself not needing Him.
When we start to understand that we are in CONSTANT need of His grace and what He does for us, it affects our interaction with those around us. When we have received so much grace, how can we not extend it to others (be it through action, thought, or word)?
The big picture is that every difficult relationship and circumstance is being used to make you, a child of the King, more like Him.
There is a season for everything. Nothing is impossible for God. Hold fast to hope. Every story He writes is beautiful.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” Romans 8:28-29