The Root of Relationship Conflict

There 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 for dealing 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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Letting Go of the Past

Many believers are able to let go of the past and live and thrive in the fullness of a new life in Christ. Sadly many cannot because they have been wounded and crippled emotionally in one way or another.
So instead of running the race with endurance they limp along the way.

There are two types of emotionally wounded believers – The first turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms,negative behaviors, addictions, immorality, anger, etc.

The second try to pull themselves up by the boot straps choosing to bury and rise about their past through self-efforts and busy themselves with many things including work, ministry, volunteer work, charities, always doing and giving often out of a need to be needed and valued rather than a healthy heart to serve. The problem is they have never dealt with the pain and believe that they are living free but are still living in bondage because deep inside they still believe the lies.

Both are hurting, and both are in denial. They may have different coping mechanisms but one thing in common….they have never fully accepted the Grace of God into the deeply wounded areas of their hearts.
Both are hindered from living the abundant life that Jesus spoke about in John 10:10


How do they move forward? The past must be dealt with in order to move forward. Burying it doesn’t work, stuffing doesn’t work, pretending it’s not there doesn’t work – sooner or later it unravels….the stuffing comes out in negative behaviors or even seemingly good behaviors, but at the root, there is something entirely different going on.


Give your hurts to Jesus. Stop running and hiding from the past. Let God heal your hurts and replace the lies with the truth of who you are in Jesus. Let go. Put the past behind, reach ahead and run the race with endurance and assurance of God’s calling on our life.


“Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2

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The Hardened Heart of Self Protection

A deep wound, a broken heart, disappointments, bitterness and unforgiveness can cause the heart to become hardened with time. It causes us to put up walls. Our defenses go up. We self protect and we don’t let anyone in including God.

Self protection leaves us running on reserve and is the cause of intimacy issues and conflict in relationships. It seems that it’s easier to be hard than soft and vulnerable, because we don’t want to get hurt. But you were not created to live that way. God made you to be tender and responsive.

It’s hard to shape stone. As long as your heart remains hard you will miss out on the abundant life Jesus came to give. So let the living God come into your heart, heal your wounds and tear down your self protection and defenses.

The amplified version of Ezekiel 11:19 says “And I will give them one heart, a new heart, and I will put a new Spirit within them and I will take the stony, unnatural hardened heart out and give them a heart of flesh, sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God.”

Give your hurts to the Lord. Let God shape you. When you do that…He will leave His fingerprints all over your heart.

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The Pain of Unmet Needs

The pain of unmet needs, thoughtless words, hurtful actions, to overt abuse can linger for a lifetime manifesting in various negative, behaviors such as addiction, unhealthy relationship, and abusive patterns. This toxic system can pollute everything around us and

Behind the violation and the physical pain of the trauma of abuse, there is a message that was sent to the hearts of victims that have left deep open wounds which continue to fester. These messages speak lies to us and skew beliefs about ourselves and others. These lies lead our wounded hearts to adopt faulty reactions and faulty behaviors to hide our intense hurt and build walls that act as barriers to intimacy with God. Yet the Lord lovingly uses our current struggles, failures, and our problem relationships to reveal unresolved emotional pain as God calls each one of us to account. His desire is to break down those walls of self-protection and heal our hurting hearts in order to set us free. Take a moment to meditate on the following scripture and let it resonate deeply in your hearts.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed.”
Luke 4:18

If you have found yourself the prisoner of a painful past, there is hope for your hurting heart. God’s word says…

“In all things give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18

No trial – no abuse is wasted. Your pain doesn’t have to be pointless; it can be full of purpose. Because you know the pain of abuse you have the ability to have compassion for others who have been wounded and abused. Thank God for what He is teaching you through the very difficult situation and the pain. Allow the Lord to take your pain and turn it into a precious ministry – a ministry of compassion to comfort and exhort others who are hurting.

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Do You Want To Be Made Well?

Jesus asked one question to the lame man at the pool of Bethesda in John 5:2 “Do you want to be made well?” This is the pivotal question for every person seeking healing for emotional wounds. The simple truth is that not everyone wants to be made well. They may start off eager with the best intentions, feeling emotionally that they cannot go on another day, but at the end of the day, do not want to be made well, and those who do not want to get well are not going to get well.

Why would I not want to walk in the freedom from the bondage that Christ set me free from? F-E-A-R! Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of what may be uprooted and exposed, fear of pain, fear that we may have to give up (someone or something); Or we may not be desperate enough yet.

Perhaps we have grown comfortable in our dysfunction and are comfortable in a victim role. We may not have reached a breaking point yet where we face losing someone we love, such as a spouse, or a relationship, maybe even a job, our freedom, and in our minds – we tell ourselves as bad as our current situation is – “it’s not as bad as so and so’s”, or at least we know how to respond, or how to continue to do life and even serve in ministry. However, we are putting on the painted smile while living in a prison in our own mind. But make no mistake…It is never God’s fault. If we do not want to embark on the journey and “be made well” – we won’t get well. Healing is a choice.

If you are in a place where you are desperate enough to get help and want to be made well then I pray that nothing will hinder you from getting the healing that you need and will encounter the Healer in a deep and intimate way.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

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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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Surrendering Anxiety

It’s amazing how one, simple verse, rings so true in many of our lives. Anxiety isn’t something that we’re meant to carry. If we’re burdened by it, it’s a red flag that there is a deeper issue going on in our hearts… an issue deeper than our situation.

We all have anxiety to some extent, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but the difference between each of us is how we have been taught to handle that anxiety.

Some of us act, and react, out of what our experiences have taught us to do, and the rest of us, out of what God tells us to do.

God is freedom. Jesus is freedom! He is THE designer of our hearts and he knows how to deliver each of them from anxiety. God’s way takes us higher, our way takes us lower.

If you’re feeling the burden of anxiety, or are even in depression from living with anxiety, there is hope. God is a “good word” and He can make you glad again… it’s just going to take your surrender.

Announce to God that this world hasn’t given you any relief, and that, you are ready to try it His way. Then, hold out your hands and allow him to take your fear and anxiousness upon Himself, exchanging your burdens, for His love.

God is “a good word.” Grab a Bible, and start to receive.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” — Matthew 11:28 (NIV

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Getting Even Won’t Heal Your Heart

When you are hurt and you are wronged by another person you may want to even the score. When you are damaged and broken by another person you may want to undo the damage and fix the brokenness by getting even. However, the idea of getting even is a false idea put into your mind by Satan and his forces of deception.

The truth is there is no true way of getting even with another person. There is no true way of evening up the score by hurting another person for what was done to you. There is no true way of getting even because hurting someone else does not make your own hurt go away. Hurting someone else does not fix your brokenness.

Hurting someone else does not undo a wrong committed against you. However, there is a way to erase the wrong, heal the hurt, repair the damage, and fix the brokenness. You can erase the wrong, heal the hurt, repair the damage, and fix the brokenness by pushing back against wanting to get even. You can push back and heal, repair, and fix the hurt by asking Christ to push with you. You can push back by asking Christ to help you be forgiving.

Certainly, the way of the world is not to forgive. The way of the world is to try to get you to even the score by doing to others the same bad things others have done to you. However, look around you. Look at the results of the way of the world. Now look within your heart where God is within. When you look within your heart…the place within you where God is found, then you will see His way is not the way of the world.

God’s way is the way of giving you healing. God’s way is the way of giving you wholeness. God’s way is the way of giving you rightness. God’s way is the way of giving you peace.

To go God’s way means you must use your might, use your will, and use your heart through the power of the Holy Spirit to push in His direction and ask Him to help you forgive. When you and God both push in the same direction, you win and you do not just even the score into a tie, you do not just win by a slim margin…you win by smashing the adversary back into the ground from where the adversary slithered forward to bite you and poison you.

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Overcoming Negative Emotions

Our emotions are tied to our thought life. Have you ever stepped back and listened to your thoughts? Have you been surprised by them and wondered where they were coming from? In his book ‚Wild at Heart,‛ John Eldredge wrote, ‚We are being lied to all the time. Yet, we never stop to say, ‘Wait a minute who else is speaking here? Where are these ideas coming from? Where are these feelings coming from?‛ Satan is at war with God’s children. He is a crafty one and a deceiver; and, he knows if he were to show up as a dark, scary figure, with a pitchfork, we would immediately flee, sensing danger. So, instead, he uses our fears, hurts, and insecurities to influence us through our thought life.

The enemy knows that if he can control our minds, he can control our behavior; and, what is his most used weapon to do so? Lies! When we believe Satan’s lies, rather than God’s truth, it leads to faulty ways of thinking and wrong behaviors that enslave our souls. The only defense we have to protect our minds from being lost in the darkness of lies is the truth: the inerrant Word of God.

God’s word gives a detailed combat strategy for defeating the enemy. We are to pull down strongholds (rooted lies) and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Simply put, we must replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth. If your thoughts are telling you that you are not good enough; that you are unworthy; that you are ugly; that you will always live in fear; that you will never heal; or that you will always live in bondage, stop for one moment and ask yourself, ‛Whose voice am I hearing? Who is it that is telling me that?‛ God’s word tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and His sheep hear His voice and His voice protects them from the thief who wants to destroy them.

Our beloved Savior would never harm His sheep by speaking such lies. If you hear that you will never amount to anything, that’s a lie from the enemy; choose, instead, to listen to your Shepherd who says, ‘For I know the thoughts I have towards you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to bring you a future and a hope‛ (Jeremiah 29:11). The enemy is a liar and cannot stand against God’s truth.

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Living In Peace With Difficult People

“Bitterness is like a rock thrown into a placid pond; After its initial splash it sends out circular ripples that affect the whole pond. It starts with ourselves, expands to our spouse, then to our children, friends, and anyone we come in contact with.” (Pastor & Dr. Chuck Lynch)

People hurt, mistreat, abuse, abandon and betray us.
God sees and validates our pain. But he also tells us to pursue peace so that we do not fall short of His grace and let bitterness take root to defile us.

Bitterness comes when we hold on to hurt and refuse to forgive those who have hurt us. It affects everything around us and causes us to have a hardened heart. We can even take on a victim mentality where we feel constantly wronged by others. It will pollute our overall view of the world and affects how we treat people.

No matter what we are not entitled to our sinful responses to how others have hurt us. Doing so only causes separation between God, ourselves and others.

We can’t change people or make them see the error of their ways but God can. But we can take our wounded hearts, bitterness, and unforgiveness to the one who has shown us how to love mercy instead of demanding justice.

Bitterness hinders repentance and forgiveness in relationships. The cure for bitterness starts with our hearts. It’s not something we do flippantly or dismissively without considering the cost of the sin committed against us, its effects and the wounds left behind.

Ask Jesus to help you process the hurts and choose to forgive. You will then have a beautiful gift to offer others – true forgiveness from the heart. A heart that says what you did to me hurt me deeply, but I choose to forgive you and release you from a debt you cannot repay just as my precious Jesus forgave me and released me from mine.

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