Has this ever happened to you? You're on the journey of life, actively engaging with your local community of believers. And despite your best efforts, you find yourself stuck in a situation that's full of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and broken relationships.
The sad reality is that we've all been there, and despite the Father's intent, modern church life can sometimes be a magnet for these painful encounters. So the real question is, "what can you do about this?"
First Things First
It's easy to blame hurtful situations on others, especially if you believe they don't like you, they don't understand you, or worse, they are out to get you. While it's all too easy to jump to any one of these conclusions, the reality is that satan is a master at stirring the pot as he sprinkles in a few dashes of deception, division, and doubt.
When you find yourself in a tense situation with others, take a moment to go to the Lord and ask for His perspective on the situation. It's incredible how many times that simply seeing a hurtful situation from God's point of view can kickstart a season of healing and reconciliation in your life.
Align Your Expectations
Often seeking the Father's wisdom when you are hurt reveals a simple confusion of expectations. Failing to communicate upfront what you and others are expecting in a given situation can often be where relationship difficulties begin.
This can happen on every level and with any relationship you have. Confusion is out there, looking for its next opportunity to strike. And when it does, you find yourself expecting one thing to happen while the person you're dealing with is expecting something completely different. (Queue the difficulties and strife)
Now, as depressing as this may seem, you don't have to let it get you down and out. Instead, take it to the Lord. First, ask Him, "Lord, here's the situation. What's the opportunity here for me to grow in relationship with You?" Then, take the time to listen and act upon what He tells you.
Secondly, take the time to reflect on the conflict and ask yourself some essential questions:
Go Make It Right
Matthew 18 is very clear on this matter. If you have something against your brother, go to him, deal with it. If you don't do that, it just festers under the skin. The more time that you allow to go by without dealing with the situation directly, the enemy will have a field day because he always deals in secrecy and fear.
The Bible also tells us in Ephesians 4:3 that we need to "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." So what does that actually mean? That means if someone has offended you, or even if you have offended someone else, that it's on you to be the bigger person.
Take that first step, reach out in love and say, "Hey, my friend, I'm so sorry. I know there's a situation with us. Can we talk about this because I don't want anything to come between us." The Bible is really clear where we dwell together in unity, and there the Lord has commanded the blessing. I don't know about you, but I do want blessings in my life.
Get Some Help
Now I'd like to tell you that this works 100% of the time, but unfortunately, it just doesn't. So when you find yourself still stuck in strife even after you've reached out in love to make things right, Matthew 18 again offers us the best guidance.
Go back with a mediator, someone you both trust, and try again. Just know that even taking this step, your differences still may not be solved. Sometimes this presents us with the opportunity to set a boundary and move on.
I know that's hard, but as soon as you can release people and your expectations of that situation, that's when the Lord can bring healing and reconciliation. You're not abandoning the relationship. You're allowing them space to process that thing and deal with it in a way that will honor the Lord.
And one last thing, forgive. Forgiveness is not for them. Forgiveness doesn't mean they did everything right. Forgiveness doesn't mean you did everything right. Forgiveness just says, "I'm choosing to no longer punish you for the thing that I perceived that you did to me. I'm releasing you from that, and I'm going to learn from this situation. I'm going to go on in God's grace."
When you learn to deal with hurt and difficulties in this way, your mindset begins to change. And when you face similar problems again in the future, you have a proven, trusted plan for dealing with them in a healthy, God-like way.
I hope this has been a big encouragement to you. If this article has been a blessing to you, take a moment to share it with a friend.
Thanks for reading!
Matt Tommey is a world-class sculptor, speaker and author who is passionate about helping artists to thrive spiritually, financially and creatively.