Man’s relationship with God was broken through sin, and there is no greater example of redemption than Christ bearing those sins in His death on the cross, being buried in the tomb and rising again so that we may have promise of eternal life through Him.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”—John 3:16
The whole reason God gave His Son to be crucified is so that Christ could pay the price for our sins with His death. Christ bore the consequences of our sin so that if we repent and believe in Him, we will not perish, but have eternal life.
It’s simply amazing that God loves us that much. He was willing to sacrifice His only Son to restore our relationship with Him and save us from the penalty of our sin. His wish is that none should perish – because He loves us that much and doesn’t want us to lose the glorious privilege of spending eternity in Heaven with Him.
As humans, it’s hard to make even small sacrifices for our loved ones. As imperfect beings in an imperfect world, navigating and nurturing earthly relationships is tough. Divorce rates are high and families are filled with all sorts of dysfunction.
Rifts in relationships often seem to happen quickly, and many times it feels like it takes years to repair them. Here’s a fact: It takes work and commitment. Relationships don’t fix themselves. All parties involved have to make an effort. Here are some essential ingredients for mending a broken relationship.
Accountability/Confessing a Wrongdoing
If you have hurt someone or have been hurt in a relationship, it’s critical for the person who committed the wrong to be accountable, confess the wrong and seek forgiveness in order for the healing process to begin. Admitting guilt is not easy. But, there can be no atonement without a confession.
We have to confess our sins to receive God’s forgiveness. Likewise, if we hurt a loved one, we need to acknowledge that hurt and admit we were wrong in hurting them. We simply can’t close an open wound without making this important confession.
Seek Forgiveness and Forgive
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.” —Ephesians 4:32
In order to move forward from a break in trust or wrongdoing in a relationship, you also must seek forgiveness from the injured party, and the injured party must be willing to forgive. If you both are truly committed to fixing things, you need to open your hearts by doing these things in order to allow healing.
One of my favorite lines from a sermon was, “Life is a mess. We’re in the mess. If we respond to a mess with another mess, we’ll make an even bigger mess!”
Yes, that’s redundant, but there’s a big point: We need to think before we act and speak. We need to consider the consequences of what we do and say. Are our words or actions going to help or hinder a situation?
If our loved one is sincerely remorseful and seeks our forgiveness hardening our hearts will only throw salt in the wound. Instead, we need to put on the mind of Christ, consider His ultimate sacrifice and be willing to forgive.
Building Trust and Communication
Open and honest communication is a key ingredient to rebuilding and maintaining trust in a relationship. Sometimes that means disciplining yourself to really listen to your loved one and respect their feelings.
It’s understandably hard to hear negative comments and feelings. It’s often easy to cut someone off, or tune out what someone is saying or prepare your rebuttal in your mind. Doing any of these things invalidates a person’s feelings and won’t do anything to rebuild trust or solve a problem. Try establishing trust by acknowledging your loved one’s feelings instead of attacking them.
Furthermore, don’t harbor resentments, be open about things that frustrate you and propose desired changes. On the flip side, be flexible enough to let a loved one vent frustrations and commit to making necessary changes for the sake of your relationship. Remember to talk calmly, not use harsh words or attack someone’s character in trying to identify solutions.
Counseling and Prayer
Seeking professional counseling from a pastor or licensed relationship counselor is always a great idea; especially if you feel overwhelmed by a breach of trust, or you reach an emotional impasse, or you just can’t find a way to solve your problems together. Sometimes an objective third party can give you invaluable insight into your relationship and present you with some viable solutions.
Finally, you should always pray for God’s wisdom and guidance to direct your steps in your relationships and every aspect of your life. Consider David when he was surrounded by the Philistines in 2 Samuel. He inquired of the Lord. He didn’t just jump into battle. He waited for God’s direction before making a move. Seek God’s guidance and wisdom in your relationship and patiently wait for His direction. If you and your loved one are both committed to working things out, then believe, trust, and pray in the power of God’s enduring love to work in your hearts, lives and relationship so that your faith, trust and love will be renewed.