The sadness of broken relationships
How sad is it when once strong, loving relationships are strained and fall apart? It’s a difficult question to answer in a quantitative way. The weight of the failed relationship falls on people differently. Some take the situation very badly, with it affecting nearly every aspect of their life. They find it hard to move on with their life, without this relationship. Others don’t seem to care much about it and move on just fine, without the relationship. What does this mean? Does it mean that the one who struggles cared or loved more than the other? Does it mean that the one able to move on didn’t really care of love in the first place? I think the answer to these questions can only be found in the heart of the people involved.
These situations are always heartbreaking, not only for those in the relationship, but also for those that love and care those folks. None of us like to see our loved ones hurting and would do anything to help the situation. What is even more painful is when these situations happen between Christians. It’s not that Christians love more or hurt more than non-believers, but rather, Christians have the answers to their conflict resolution questions right in front of them, in the Bible.
I would suggest that the root cause of any issue that can or does cause a strained relationship has a solution to that issue found in the Bible. Root causes are often hard to find through all the surface manifestations of those problems. Root causes to problems in relationships are often things like, greed, envy, pride, lack of love, mistrust, not telling the truth, failure to forgive, etcetera. Of course these are not all the causes of problems, just examples of the types of issues that can cause problems.
Most Christians, I would believe, know that all of these types of problems (and many more) are addressed in the Bible. God has given us perfect direction on how to avoid and/or address any issue that we may encounter. God teaches us how to inwardly address problems that we have within ourselves and how to react to, or address the behaviors that others display. Knowing the answers to how we should behave, react to, or address behavior, whether it’s our own behavior or the behavior of others, is not usually the problem. The problem with most Christians is applying the teachings of Jesus to our lives, in every situation. It’s always easy to see the faults of others and point to the Bible for the way THEY should behave or react, but, it is not always so easy for us to see the fault in ourselves. We seem to always want the other person to change their ways, or to finally see that they are wrong, and then hope for them to reach out the hand of reconciliation, to repair the relationship.
One of the things that Jesus said, while dying on the cross was “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). Jesus was not suggesting that the Romans did not understand that they were torturing and killing a man on a cross. Nor was he suggesting that the Jewish leaders did not know that they turned over a man to the Romans to be killed. Jesus meant that they did not know WHO they were doing those things too. (Now, it is possible that the Jewish leaders did understand that Jesus was who He said He was and they had Him killed to protect their position in society, but that’s another conversation.) The point here is that Jesus did wait for the ones doing Him wrong to realize that and to stop what they were doing. Jesus reached out to the Father, on their behalf, to ask for their forgiveness. Jesus, the one being wronged, reached out to begin the reconciliation. He had done nothing wrong, and even so, he initiated the reconciliation.
What does this mean for us? It means that even if we are the one that suffered the wrong, we should be the one that swallows our pride and loves enough to forgive the wrong. When we do this, we can then begin the process of reconciliation. Matthew 18:21-22 says “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Jesus was not giving us a number of sins against us that we should be counting up to, but rather, He was saying that there is no maximum number of sins against us that we should not forgive. That means that no matter what has been done to us, no matter how many times it was done to us, we should forgive. Jesus have forgiven us for an innumerable amount of sin against Him, therefore, he expects us to do no less.
The healing of relationships begins with us swallowing our pride and loving enough to forgive the trespasses against us, just as Jesus has done for us. Then, with our pride put away, and forgiveness in our heart, we can reach out to our loved one and begin to heal the broken relationship.