Relationships can be complex and messy. We all have different personalities and temperaments. Sometimes we rub people the wrong way. Sometimes other people rub us the wrong way.
Naturally, we are all selfish and sinful. We are not perfect. And when imperfect people relate with one another, it can lead to broken relationships, broken friendships, and even broken marriages. And these broken relationships can lead to separated and dysfunctional families.
If you’ve lived life long enough, you’ve experienced a broken or damaged relationship. It is a part of life. We’ve all experienced relational pain. And typically, hurt people hurt people. And inflicting more pain and hurt only does more damage to the relationship.
We’ve all been through a conflict with a friend, family member or colleague. Each of us responds to conflict in our own way. But there are typically two general responses when it comes to dealing with relational conflict: fight or flight.
Some people respond to conflict wanting to fight. They will defend themselves and come out swinging. Sometimes their fight is passive aggressive and other times it is more direct. Some people thrive on conflict. They love and enjoy a good fight. But this type of response only escalates the conflict and does further damage to the relationship.
The other poor response to relational conflict is flight. This is the person who runs from the conflict. Their mentality is to avoid conflict at all costs. And this is not a healthy response to conflict either. In fact, avoiding the conflict and not addressing it can cause distance and greater separation in the relationship. It can also lead to bitterness and anger, which causes internal pain and suffering. And internal suffering can lead to bad habits, sleepless nights and poor physical health.
We need to learn to address the mess of damaged relationships in a healthy way. So, if you do have a broken relationship with a friend or family member, how do you address the mess? How do you reconcile the relationship? Let me suggest three steps.
Our first step should always be to pray. Trust God with the situation. The Apostle Peter teaches in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” God loves us, cares for us and wants us to have healthy relationships. We need to pray for God to work in our lives and in the life of the other person. We may think the relationship is irreconcilable, but nothing is impossible for God. We need to pray for God to do a miracle.
Secondly, we need to initiate in humility toward the other person. We need to be the first to say, “I’m sorry.” Instead of playing the blame game, we need to swallow our pride and take personal responsibility for resolving the conflict. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong. The goal is not to win the fight but to win back the relationship. The most important thing is reconciling the relationship.
And lastly, we need to extend love, grace and forgiveness. Love covers a multitude of sins. We can love others, because God first loved us. We can forgive others, because God has forgiven us. God has forgiven us and given us a second chance time and time again. We need to learn to forgive others. Who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to give a second chance?
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8