Responding In Grace

Every person has a learned pattern of behavior when dealing with conflict. Some lash out; others become critical, defensive and sarcastic, while some retreat like a turtle and avoid conflict altogether. None of these patterns work towards solution and even create more conflict adding layers of bitterness and resentments causing hearts to get hardened and broken intimacy in relationships.

What’s God’s solution when conflict in relationships arises? GRACE! You see people model what was modeled to them. If they attack, they were attacked. If they are critical, they were criticized. If they avoid, stuffing and avoidance was the name of the game growing up. These patterns are brought into relationships and affect those we love. It’s important not to personalize the wrongful reactions of other people. It has more to do with their faulty filters and less to do with you. Grace understands this. It can build a bridge to healthy relationships.

God’s word says “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Instead of getting angry and replying in kind commit to sifting every conflict through a grace sifter. Nothing gets through unless it contains grace. Just like a flour sifter catches big lumps of flour that will ruin a recipe – nothing critical is allowed to sift through that will ruin our relationships. There is nothing wrong with the flour it’s just the wrong consistency. Likewise, conflict issues are legitimate and must be addressed and dealt with. But it’s our negative reaction to conflict that needs sifting through the filter of grace.

The next part of the recipe calls for seasoning with salt. Salt is a preservative. If your conversation is full of grace – allowing for faults and imperfections of others – it preserves relationships and brings peace to our lives. This is the perfect recipe for healthy God-centered relationships. Let’s get to cooking with grace.
“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”
Colossians 3:14

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How Do I know Someone Is Really Sorry?

Repeated apologies, promises never to do it again, remorse, tears, pleading for another chance are things repeat abusers say to those they hurt. Whether they are causing harm through emotional or physical abuse, committing adultery, being deceptive, lying, cheating, or are engaged in other destructive behaviors such as addiction, they may genuinely feel bad when exposed and confronted and offer appeasement for the moment, but nothing changes.

The behavior continues causing pain and destruction at all levels in families and relationships. That’s because God’s word says there is a huge difference between feeling sorry for what we do and repentance, regretting the wrongs we have committed and committing to change behaviors that bind and hurt others.

Worldly sorrow does not lead to the brokenness and humility needed to get the human heart to a place of genuine Godly sorrow and repentance before a Holy God that produces a desire to change. Worldly sorrow causes the heart to hardened and brings forth death in all areas of our lives, while Godly softens the heart and brings forth life.

If we continue to allow others to appease us with worldly sorrow, then we must understand that things will remain the same. This is called enabling.

We can’t change another person’s heart but God can. Release them to God, guard your heart, and pray the Lord will orchestrate whatever needs to take place to produce Godly sorrow in someone who is hurting themselves and others. That’s where true change begins.

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When People Hurt Us

People we love and care about sometimes mistreat us, say unkind things to us or about us, verbally or physically abuse us, neglect, ignore, betray, reject, or abandon us. Our first reaction is almost always to personalize it. Please understand that people’s negative behaviors are not about us and everything to do with what is going on inside of them. We cannot react by taking ownership of their negative junk when they act out of their own unhealthy patterns of behavior that we are not responsible for. It will not only hurt us deeply but make us believe lies that affect how we see ourselves.

So what can we do?  Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties, and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” This verse is all about looking within, asking the Lord to examine our own hearts, and not anyone else’s.  At the end of the day, all we can do is take ownership and responsibility for our own junk, ask for forgiveness when applicable, and impose healthy boundaries to protect ourselves from allowing others actions to hurt us physically, spiritually, or emotionally, and release them at the foot of the cross.  We have to stop giving other people control over our emotions. That just gives unhealthy people way too much power and authority in our lives. And last time I checked, as believers we should only be submitting our hearts and lives over to the love and authority of the Living God.

We can’t make people’s unhealthy issues our issues. When we do that, they own us! Causing us to lose sight of who we are because we are so caught up in them and their drama. They will live rent-free in our heads and consume us. And that only leads to bitterness, anger, and resentments robbing us of our joy, peace, and sanity. That’s no way to live. Choose instead to protect your heart and let Jesus teach you how to respond in a healthy way to those who cause you pain so that you can live in peace and joy regardless of what others do.

 

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The Grace Sifter In Relationship Conflict

Every person has a learned pattern of behavior when dealing with conflict.  Some lash out; others become critical, defensive and sarcastic, while some retreat like a turtle and avoid conflict altogether.  None of these patterns work towards solution and even create more conflict adding layers of bitterness and resentments causing hearts to get hardened and broken intimacy in relationships.

What’s God’s solution when conflict in relationships arises? GRACE! You see people model what was modeled to them. If they attack, they were attacked. If they are critical, they were criticized.  If they avoid, stuffing and avoidance were the names of the game growing up. These patterns are brought into relationships and affect those we love. It’s important not to personalize the wrongful reactions of other people. It has more to do with their faulty filters and less to do with you. Grace understands this.  It can build a bridge to healthy relationships.

God’s word says “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Instead of getting angry and replying in kind commit to sifting every conflict through a grace sifter.  Nothing gets through unless it contains grace.  Just like a flour sifter catches big lumps of flour that will ruin a recipe – nothing critical is allowed to sift through that will ruin our relationships. There is nothing wrong with the flour it’s just the wrong consistency. Likewise, conflict issues are legitimate and must be addressed and dealt with. But it’s our negative reaction to conflict that needs sifting through the filter of grace.

The next part of the recipe calls for seasoning with salt. Salt is a preservative. If your conversation is full of grace – allowing for faults and imperfections of others – it preserves relationships and brings peace to our lives. This is the perfect recipe for healthy God-centered relationships. Let’s get to cooking with grace.

“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

Colossians 3:14

 

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Only God Completes You

colossiansEvery human being is born with three basic God-given needs for love, security, and significance. When these needs aren’t met it creates a void begging to be filled. Wherever there is a void, it is going to be filled with something even it’s destructive.

Because basic needs, especially for love, weren’t met this causes people to have faulty core beliefs about themselves and therefore often settle for relationships that are emotionally unavailable and imbalanced which creates conflict at all levels leading to emotional pain and frustration.

It’s not your job to fix someone else. It’s not their job to fix or complete you. It’s God’s job.

Only the One who created us has the power to change, fix, complete, and satisfy us with His unfailing love. Don’t set others up for failure to do what only God is able to do. You will live with constant disappointment.

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Emotional Pain

thorn-heartOften people who are experiencing emotional pain have difficulty expressing their feelings in a healthy way. A common cause is buried feelings due to loss or past hurts.

Ignored or denied feelings won’t go away. They are buried alive, deep inside your soul, where they fester and create an infection that produces poison in your body.

As long as emotional pain continues to be suppressed and undealt with the symptoms will only get worse such as relationship conflict, unhealthy behaviors, depression, addictions, and all sorts of other coping mechanisms that wound the heart and separate us from self, others and God.

That’s why it’s so vitality important to face your feelings.
Bring your heartache and hurts, your anxiety, your fear, and frustration to Jesus. Pour out your heart to Him and receive His comfort. He alone understands the depth of your hurt and pain. His word assures us in Isaiah that He was a man of sorrows acquainted with our grief. Hold on to the assurance found in His Holy Word…


“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. “
Hebrews 4:15-16

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Emotions & Relationship Conflict

oftheheartThere is a direct correlation between relationship conflict and negative emotions. We were designed for love and intimacy.  Sadly, many of us were not given healthy forms of love. So we enter relationships with baggage full of skewed love systems and unmet needs expecting the other person to meet our emotional needs.

However, since unhealthy people tend to attract unhealthy individuals into their lives who enter the relationship with their own emotional baggage – unmet needs and skewed forms of love expecting us to love them as they think they should be loved – it’s  a great recipe for emotional pain and conflict.

People enter relationships with all kinds of learned negative patterns of behavior to deal with relationship conflict.

The truth is we will never be able to enjoy healthy mutually satisfying relationships until we deal with the issues of our own heart.  When we can identify the cause of our emotional pain, we can then process the effects they have on our life, and we can stop blaming others, take ownership of our negative feelings and behaviors and stop allowing others to control our emotions. People are not responsible for the way they make us feel.

Understanding and accepting this enables us to let others off the hook and give them permission to take ownership of their feelings and stop blaming us for how they feel.  Jesus heals and restores one heart at a time.

 

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