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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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.”
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