More than 200 miles from home, I found it comforting to make a new friend whose circumstances were so similar to my own. We were both single moms with two kids each. We had just moved into a new apartment complex; she was two doors down from me. We often drove to church together with our four children in tow, singing at the top of our lungs all the way.
I watched her kids so she could clean. She returned the favor. We shared meals and took the kids on outings. Long story short, we became closer than some sisters.
BUT, we had our differences. In many ways we were like day and night. We rubbed each other the wrong way at times. We were finding out how true this verse could be:
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. –Proverbs 27:17
We were also learning that you have to allow yourself to be sharpened. Let’s face it, it doesn’t FEEL good. You have to set aside your pride. You have to have the courage to tell someone they hurt you. You have to admit when you did something wrong.
You have to cooperate.
If you handle the differences the way God says to handle them, you grow. If not, you fall apart. You lose your friendship, you lose an opportunity to please God, and you lose the ability to mature.
When we felt like throwing dishes at each other, we talked instead. Emotional, trembling, smiling through tears…we talked. Little did we know that people were watching. They noticed the way we dealt with our disagreements and spoke about it. It was so foreign to the way most people fight.
There were no explosions, no calling each other names. No criticizing, one-upping each other, competing… no getting even. We were fighting the problem, not each other.
In the bible it tells us to “speak the truth in love.” It tells us that our goal is unity in Christ. It instructs us not to let the sun go down on our anger and give the devil a foothold. It doesn’t say not to FEEL anger; instead it says, “In your anger, do not sin.” (from Ephesians 4)
This inability or lack of desire to confront one another is a serious problem among Christians today. We are just as guilty of gossip, criticism, and tossing our brothers and sisters to the side as people of the world. Either we lack knowledge of how God expects us to proceed, or the guts to do it, or we’re just plain disobedient.
Even when the person who has offended us is a nonbeliever, I think it’s important to approach the person and at least, TRY to work things out. If it doesn’t work, you tried. You did your part.
Forgiveness is always important. It doesn’t mean you don’t feel hurt or angry any more. It means you have decided to allow God to work on the offending party and bring healing to your own heart. It means you will “keep no record of wrongdoings” and not throw the offense up in the person’s face. EVER.
Harder still is to go to someone when YOU are the one who did the wrong thing. You fear it’ll make you look stupid and weak. You don’t know if you’ll be forgiven or get the door slammed in your face. But you do it in obedience to God and allow him to work on the other person.
Hopefully your relationship will be healed eventually, here or in heaven.
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature,attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” —Ephesians 4:11-16
p.s. Hanging your problems with the person who hurt you out on Facebook or other social media isn’t the way to deal. Talking to OTHER people about the problem isn’t going to fix it.
The classy, GODLY way is to go straight to that person privately and WORK ON IT.
THIS IS SOMETHING I’M STILL LEARNING. God help us and give us wisdom.