Difficulties in our relationships come up ALL the time. In our marriages, relationships, friendship, etc. What do we do when we are facing what feels like incredible injustice, unfair treatment and loneliness?
I shared a blog post a couple months back about facing adversity- essentially facing difficulties in a close relationship- to which MANY of you responded. It reminded me not only that I am not alone in these struggles, but that many of struggle and grasp for truth in these times. So, what is TRUTH? What kind of treatment do we “PUT UP WITH” and how do we define a LOVING RESPONSE in these moments?
TRUTH: God is good and faithful; All the time. People, unfortunately are not. (Ourselves included.)
IT SUCKS TO BE MISTREATED:
Let me know if any of these words sound familiar to you in your recent experience of heartbreak, anger or loneliness: belittled, dismissed, patronized, ignored, or betrayed. The list is extensive when it comes to emotional and spiritual pain. However, God says this about how many times we should forgiveness, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” * And unfortunately no, we are not only to forgive when someone asks for forgiveness. We are called to forgive every trespass done against us, just as God has forgiven us.
For example, this means that, when Luke and I have an argument and I feel like he’s completely in the wrong, I have to forgive him. It means that while he may never say sorry or make it right on his end, I am still accountable for my own heart before God. I don’t want to let bitterness take root and harden my heart, nor do I want to then make matter worse by acting out of anger myself.
HOWEVER, we do not remain in physically abusive relationships. Sometimes, emotional abuse can be so emotionally violent that this leads to physical illness as well. You should seek the advice of friends, family and perhaps a church leader if this is the case, because creating healthy boundaries will be necessary and will vary from circumstance to circumstance.
YET WE ARE CALLED TO ALWAYS RESPOND WITH LOVE:
For those who are not facing physical abuse, but who are facing what feels like unbearable loneliness, conflict or anger in their relationship, there are some clear outlines on how to respond and I’d like to expand on this as much as possible. I want to be clear in that, this is in no way a formula or one size fits all blog post. We are not meant to consume a single article and be simply healed of our adversities. We often have to walk through difficult times with God from day to day, as well as fellow believers who will lift us up, encourage and pray for us as we learn to balance the waves of anger and pain. It’s a learning process, where we are meant to lean on one another, to carry one another’s burdens. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
- Still speak the truth: to love is to speak in truth. While we need to be kind and watch our own hearts to signs of bitterness and anger, it is important to still identify when someone is hurting you. So yes, it’s okay to say, that was mean or hurtful. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Mathew 18:15
- Sometimes the loving response is silence. In Psalm 141:3, David says “O LORD, set a guard at my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips.” There are SO many scriptures that remind us to hold back our tongue, wait to share a thought or literally be silent. It’s considered wisdom to be silent if you’re unsure of your words. And in the case where your relationship is toxic, seems to end in explosive arguments or simply frustrates you, try less words. Try no words.
- Restore your soul and fill your cup: “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” James 3:17 This may look like stepping back from the relationship for a time. Depending on the relationship, it may even redefine it indefinitely. The KEY is to step back in an action of love, in order to obey God and keep your own soul at peace, NOT to punish the person for their behavior. An example of this would be me giving Luke the silent treatment after an argument. If I need to take some time, I will respectfully let Luke know that I need to take a few hours to myself and that I’ll be back, or that I may be being quiet, but that I still love him and we are okay.
When taking time to heal and seeking restoration I highly recommend one of two things- either spend time in the scriptures or spend time with a friend who will redirect you to God’s word. This is key, because even well- intended advice can lead us down ugly paths like hasty considerations of divorce or unnecessary breakups with family members, etc.
I know that these seasons can feel so deep and so dark, but God is familiar with every dark valley we walk through. When I felt so much emotional pain that all I could imagine were plans of escape, God simply lit one step ahead of me at a time. Some of the best advice I received at that time, was to focus on the very next thing, one thing at a time. In the morning, wake up. Once you’re awake, get ready for the day. One single step at a time.
I find a lot of comfort in Jesus, “who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” 1 Peter 2:23 Our sweetest Jesus exemplified ultimate, physical humility in that while he could been delivered from death, he chose to die in our place so that we too could someday be with God.
I know these are just a few, brief lines of advice, so please, please message me with any and all questions. I’d love to expand on these topics into specific areas that resonate with you, my readers and friends.