Monday, October 20, 2008

Healing Wounded Relationships

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I hope you will as well.

I would like to talk with you today about Healing Wounded Relationships. There are numerous reasons that relationships become wounded. Among the reasons are: insensitivity, anger, frustrations, carrying a chip on our shoulder, carrying our emotions on our sleeves. Let's see what God's Word says to us about this.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 14:3 NIV

It happens every day. Maybe it's happening right now in your once-happy home: unrealistic expectations, infidelity and broken promises destroying the dream of lifelong love and trust. Thankfully, God is the healer of broken relationships and violated trust. When someone you love is hurting:

(1) Give it time. Healing is a process, not an event. Wounds of the heart heal slowly. Maybe you're thinking, 'But I've apologised over and over. How long will it take them to let it go and start trusting me again?' It takes as long as it takes! Demanding the other person to heal on your schedule only delays the process. 'But if they really forgave me they wouldn't keep bringing it up.' Not so. When your loved one can bring it up without you getting upset, healing will happen faster.

(2) Don't expect things to be normal for now. They won't be - and that's normal! Ever notice how you automatically protect an injured limb against knocks and bumps? It's a natural, instinctive reaction. The fact is, the one who caused the pain may be ready for business as usual, but for the wounded 'normal' feels way too vulnerable right now. By lowering your expectations and giving them space, you'll hasten and promote the healing process.

(3) Remember, people heal at different rates. God said, "There is a time… to weep… a time to laugh… a time to embrace and a time to refrain" (Ecclesiastes 3:4-5 NIV).

Be sensitive. Let God teach you patience and growth as you give your loved one time to heal.

Just sitting waiting for healing to happen doesn't help; it only lengthens the process. Working to become a positive influence is what moves things forward. If you want to help:

When your loved one needs to talk, listen without trying to defend, explain, rationalize or excuse your behavior. Don't try to correct their 'misperceptions' or lessen their pain by minimizing it. Validate. Don't tell somebody, "You shouldn't feel that way." When people talk about their pain, often they're doing the work necessary to help them heal. By letting them know their feelings are legitimate rather than making them feel weak or silly, you enable them to work through the negative emotions. Apologize. Yes, again! Whoever said, "Love means never having to say you're sorry," didn't know much about human relationships. Every genuine apology promotes healing. A heartfelt "I'm so sorry" is medicine to a wounded soul. So apply it till it's no longer needed - and your loved one will let you know when that is. Repair. Offer to help repair the hurt you've caused. "I know I've wounded you, and I really want to know what I can do to help heal the damage." Genuinely spoken, those words realign and make you part of the solution, not just the cause of the problem.

God said, "I have heard your prayers and seen your tears; I will heal you," and the sooner you become actively engaged in promoting the healing process, the sooner you'll get out of the penalty box and back on the field.

I am so thankful that God says that He will restore: I will restore. Jeremiah 30:17 NIV

There are no painless, foolproof guarantees; healing a relationship involves shared effort and risk. I have to trust that ultimately you'll forgive me and put the offense behind you, and you have to believe that I'm sincere about changing. Healing wounded relationships is a two-person job. Your job is to work at trusting me again, and mine is to provide you with evidence that I'm trustworthy. When we do that we invite one another's co-operation, encourage each other and shorten the distance that separates us. Making a relationship work means deciding you have real and positive options, and both committing to them.

If your betrayal caused the wounds, you can make your own job easier by becoming more accountable. By voluntarily keeping your partner in the loop about your schedule, without their having to quiz you, you graduate from being the bad guy to becoming a full-fledged team member, pursuing a mutual game plan so you can both win. By agreeing to self-police you also remove the resentment one partner feels when the other one monitors them. In other words, it relieves them of the dirty work of micromanaging you, and spares you the humiliation of feeling like you're always under the microscope.

On the other hand, if you are the wounded party you can make your mate's job easier by letting them know you value the relationship enough to make it work by keeping up your end. Tell them you appreciate their efforts. When healing a relationship becomes the main focus of both partners, and you include God, who said, "I will restore", it will happen! Blessings.

Pastor Rusty


Rick Bruce said...

Amen and amen! you have written an excellent, multi-faceted guide to relationship repair, all supported by scripture. Unfortunately, in the past, i had to learn some of these lessons the hard way. I can see how beneficial this will be for anyone struggling with relationship problems and I will definitely keep it on hand for the future, as a reminder of what I should do, not what I feel like I should do. For it's not about me, it's about God's will and my loving, wonderful wife. I thank God and you for this, pastor. I believe it will help to heal many.