Loving in the midst of trials is not easy. There is a saying, “hurt people hurt others.” And the hurt is even harder to take when it’s ‘friendly fire’, coming from those who are closest to us. If we are not careful these hurt feelings can lead to broken relationships. During the trials, do your best to keep perspective and work to maintain the meaningful relationships. Here are some tips that will help:
Breathe deep and take slow measured breathes. It may sound silly, but it’s a simple, effective tool. God is the ‘breathe of life’, so as you breathe you are breathing in life, which will help you calm down and help you ward off reacting.
Act instead of react. Think before you act or speak. Often in crisis or when we’ve been hurt we have ‘knee jerk reactions’ and say or do things we later regret. Be aware of your thoughts, consciously decide how you will share and stay in the moment.
Practice empathy. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself, “why would this person be acting the way they are? What have they been going through lately that might contribute to this action or reaction?” Often what just happened is not really about you, but more about what is troubling them.
Ask questions and then truly listen. Take a ‘time out’, say a quick prayer and check your own emotions and allow yourself time to calm down. Then reach out in kindness and concern. For example: “Why did you feel a need to yell at me that way?” “What is really upsetting you? “ “Could you explain to me more, without yelling or calling me names, what is troubling you?”
Speak your truth in love. When you share how you feel and what you think, do so with respect, honesty, no name-calling and in a manner that is not defensive or aggressive. Here’s the standard counselor’s tip: Begin sentences with: “I feel ______, when you said _____”. Other examples: “Can I share with you what I think/feel about what just happened?” or “I have a request…” or “I think what you mean is _______, am I correct?”
Also remember that when we’ve been hurt or times are tough in our relationships, Jesus still stands. He is the Prince of peace. He has a way through every storm and He is our rock. Our part is to cling to Him, allow Him to be part of the process, ask for what we need, and trust that He is leading and guiding. Don’t block His ability to intervene with how we respond.
Let’s not forget that sin does have consequences. And just because someone is sinning against us, does not give us license to give it back. This is a time to offer grace and mercy. Not to start a battle of will and wits.
Be part of the solution, by receiving grace from God and liberally giving grace away, especially in times of troubles and trials. His sacrificial love given to us and then flowing to others will transform hearts and change situations. Give it a try. It’s not always easy, but the payoff is tremendous! “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen… Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32