We all get involved in relationships that don’t go the way we want. Inside we say that the other person is wrong; and that may be true. However, if being right causes us intense grief and frustration, isn’t it better to just let it go?
Saying that is easy, practicing it, well- that’s an art form. So how do we deal with relationships that hurt? If possible, get out of the relationship. Since we can’t always do that, we have to learn to deal with the hurtful emotions and feelings.
I’m no psychologist, but I learned what the Bible tells us. The key is to letting go is to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15). Failure to forgive only leads to more bitterness and resentment. There’s an old saying that goes: “Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Refusing to forgive, or let something go, is not healthy for our relationships or our bodies.
What does it mean to forgive? Forgiveness is a deliberate decision to let go of resentment. We might always remember the event or words that hurt us. However, forgiveness can help us stop focusing on the hurt. Then we can look for positive responses. That’s how we begin to heal. Forgiveness may even lead to feeling empathy or compassion for the person who hurt us.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting us. We forgive the person without excusing the wrongdoing. It’s ok to avoid those hurtful situations in the future.
We also have to take into consideration the role we played in the event that hurt us. Could it be a misunderstanding? What about our responses so far? Did we do something (or not do) to contribute to the problem? Did we really have to say our peace? What have the hostile emotions done to us? We must take responsibility for our actions and forgive ourselves as well.
Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps us go on with life. Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for happiness, health and peace. Forgiveness can lead to healthier relationships, greater spiritual and psychological well-being, lower blood pressure, less stress, improved heart health and a higher self esteem. You also learn to forgive yourself.¹
We have to decide what we are going to do (or not do) to make the situation better. Then go do it (or stop doing it.) The process will likely take some time, and a lot of hard work, but if we want our relationships to flourish, we need to deal with the negative ones quickly and appropriately.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Matthew 18: 21-22
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
2 Corinthians 2:5-8
Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;
John 8:7 NIV
And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-6
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
May you feel the peace and blessings of renewed relationships.
Scripture: www.openbible.info (ESV)
Image: google images