I don’t know how many people I’ve talked to recently who are grieving over a broken relationship. Parents grieving over a wayward child, a prodigal son or daughter, who has turned away from God and from their family. Young couples who went into a relationship with lofty dreams only to be floored by unmet expectations and poor judgments. Long-time friends who bicker because of jealousy and petty issues. Employees who complain about employers and vice versa…neither understanding, nor making any effort to understand the stresses each goes through in the work place. The list is very long but there are similarities in each scenario: we grieve when someone disappoints us and the hurt can be debilitating.
There is a physical toll on a body when a person is under significant stress. I found that out very recently. I experienced shortness of breath and chest pain so bad my husband had to take me to the hospital where the doctors ran a battery of tests to determine whether or not I was having a cardiac incident. When that was ruled out, they thought I might have a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs). Thankfully, that too was ruled out, as was TB, or cancer. They are still monitoring me carefully, but it remains one of those “mysteries” to diagnose. I’m pretty sure it is just my body reacting to stress in my life.
There is a mental toll on a body when a person is under significant stress. I know this to be true. I do not think clearly. I am weary and at times depressed and carry it around like a dark canvass I’ve painted for myself, devoid of colour. Sleeplessness accompanies me adding even more to my numbing tiredness. There are days it would be just as easy to not get out of bed than to face the world.
There is a spiritual toll on a body when a person is under significant stress. Some days it takes almost too much effort to pray and seek solace in the Word. I wonder if He is even listening? Does He even care?
All that, and more, is the end result of someone who is going through significant stress, and especially if that is the result of having a broken relationship with someone in their life.
The Bible is clear about what to do if you are stressed and struggling over a broken relationship: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8.
There should be no such thing in any relationship with the attitude of being “one up” on the other. It is important to humble oneself, even if you KNOW you’re in the right. I have been telling my Grade Six class as we focus on the Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness, that a relationship is more important than determining who is right or wrong in a dispute. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
We had a little pushing incident between two young men in school the other day, a joke gone awry, and when I pulled them both aside I did not ask who started it, although one boy admitted he was the instigator, I asked how they could have prevented it from escalating to a point where they were pushing each other in anger. Immediately the memory verse (Proverbs 15:1) came to mind and they both admitted they could have “walked away” and not allowed the incident to affect their relationship further. They apologized to one another, and a few minutes later they were sitting side by side working on homework together as if nothing had happened.
A school-yard incident is one thing, I find children tend to remember and apply lessons learned more readily than adults. As we get older, we hold grudges longer. We don’t want to admit fault. Pride gets in the way. It’s not easy to back down when we have been wronged…we call it “righteous anger”…but is it?
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6: 27-28
It is so hard to LOVE someone, do good and bless someone who has for some reason or another become your adversary. However, I have discovered that prayer changes my perspective about someone and when I pray for them it is very difficult to remain adversarial.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
It is important that, no matter the circumstances, I forgive someone who I perceive has wronged me in some way. Forgiveness is one thing, forgetting is quite another. I can forgive but it may take a very long time for me to fully trust that person again.
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26
Some think that being a Christian means that we are to just allow people to walk all over us. We are not the world’s punching bags! Turning the other cheek is one thing, but it is important that we rebuke in love those people who are clearly in opposition to God’s teachings. As the verse in 2 Timothy states clearly, we pray that those people will “come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil”.
If you are feeling the stresses of not being in a right relationship with someone, remember the verses I’ve quoted and make every attempt to LOVE, FORGIVE, BE KIND,…wait…does this sound familiar?….
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
Eating THAT kind of fruit is the HEALTHY thing to do!