“He has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
We have all experienced broken relationships. In a small town, we try to keep everyone happy so that we do not hurt friends and family. However, because we are human, we will naturally break relationships. We will say something, insinuate something, use a certain tone, or do something. Something will happen where we will hurt someone else. It is inevitable. In those times, we need to have the humility to own our actions and ask forgiveness, even when we did not mean to do harm.
Sometimes, we are not the one who hurt, but the one who was hurt. Someone did something, said something, insinuated something, or used a certain tone. And, we were hurt.
In those moments, we have three choices. We could build an emotional wall between ourselves and the offender. We keep the offender away, we protect ourselves from future hurt, and we plant bitterness in our heart. This is the easy action. But when we do this, we do not allow our emotional wounds to heal. We hurt ourselves even more than the person who hurt us.
Choice two is the better choice: we seek reconciliation. The first step to reconciliation is understanding each other. We are honest about our feelings and the thoughts behind those feelings. Then, we approach the offender and share those feelings and thoughts in a non-judgmental, level-headed way. After speaking, we allow the offender to share their side. The goal is mutual understanding, not venting.
The second step to reconciliation is to prevent further hurts. No one is perfect. In reconciliation both parties admit their flaws and work toward maturity, changing based upon the insights of the other. This requires humility. But, as we conflict well, we grow into better people.
Sometimes, these two steps are too hard to be taken alone. In difficult conversations, a mature third party, like a friend or a pastor, can be invited into the discussion to work as an unbiased mediator.
The third choice we could take is legal action. Sometimes someone has hurt us and crossed into abuse. This is the hardest step to take but must be done. Abuse is a crime and should be prosecuted. Reach out to someone trusted to walk with you through the process and seek spiritual counseling to heal from hurts inflicted on you.
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
We all have feelings that run wild. Some of us are stoics and we don't like to admit our feelings. Whenever one tries to break loose, we squish it down again. Others of us are “emoters.” We don't just embrace our feelings: our feelings control us.
Both extremes are wrong.
God designed humanity to have feelings. They are thermostats to our hearts’ conditions, to the state of our relationships with God, and to the state of our relationships with each other. Those of us who are stoics are denying how God has made us, and we are refusing to use a valuable tool He has given us.
However, because of the Fall and the subsequent depravity of man, we cannot fully trust our hearts or the feelings that come from them. Our emotions will lead us astray if we allow them to control us. Those of us who have a tendency to be controlled by emotion, need to temper that emotion with truth.
So, how do we use emotions correctly?
First, we need to identify the feeling. Feelings are no use to us if we do not identify them. They let us know what is going on around us or inside us, or at least, what is perceived to be going on.
Second, we explore why we have that feeling. Feelings do not happen in a vacuum. They come because a situation, whether in the present or in the past, has prompted them. Someone did, said, or insinuated something, or a circumstance happened that affected us in a specific way.
Third, we need to weigh the truth we are believing. Feelings lead us to what we believe. Often our emotions are responding to a lie that we believe.
Fourth, we can then speak truth. This is an essential step. If we are believing a lie, we can preach truth to ourselves, furthering our maturity.
No matter if our emotions are based on truth or a lie, we should let our Christian community know what is going on. Even if we are believing a lie, our Christian friends need to know the feelings we are working through, especially if our feeling stems from what someone else has done. This is part of the process of reconciliation.
Pastor of Calvary Bible Church, Neligh, NE. Missionary with RHMA. Husband to Maggie. Father to Grace, David, and Daniel. Saved by Jesus Christ