By Ella Corey
As a freshman in college, this year has brought my fair share of tough relationship conflicts. Whether it’s roommate personality clashes, struggles with an old friend, or differences with a new classmate, every relationship, new or old, close or distant, will eventually require some kind of reconciliation. I’ve experienced a lot of conflict this year and, because of this, I’ve learned a lot about resolving them.
I’m the kind of person who would love to avoid disagreement at all costs. If someone were irritating me, I could just ignore him or her and never address the problem. If you avoid your problems, they’ll just go away… right? If only that were actually true.
It’s easy to love those who love you. In Luke 6:32 Jesus says “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” It becomes difficult when your best friend betrays you, or a family member abandons you. It becomes difficult when they don’t want to be loved.
Pastor of First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, Mike Erre, once said “We shouldn’t just do the easy task of tolerance but the hard work of love.” Love, forgiveness, and reconciliation all require actions. You can’t just decide in your heart you’re not mad anymore and expect that to mean something. Yes, your heart must be in the right place, but reconciliation will only make a difference when you do something about it. Here are some key tips to reconcile relationships in a Biblical manner.
If you go into a situation wanting to prove that you’re right, there won’t be healing. It is necessary to be open to compromise and be willing to change your views. I’m not saying abandon all that you believe, but be prepared to listen. Go into the conversation with the intention to mend the relationship. Matt Chandler, author and pastor of The Village Church, said “the goal should always be ‘how can I love this person?’ never ‘what can I get out of this?’” If your goal is to love them, it becomes an issue between yourself and God, not you and the other person. Then, the outcome is completely dependent on your actions, not how the other person takes it.
2. Be Humble
James 4:6 states that “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Two proud people, unwilling to change their minds, will never get anywhere. As hard as it is, look at the situation from the other’s perspective and admit your faults. Try to see why they would’ve been offended by you. Even if it’s difficult, your attempt will make a huge impact. Others will see your efforts to mend the relationship and be more willing to compromise.
3. Be Vulnerable
Without complete honesty and openness, the other person will never truly know what they did to hurt you. This is the one thing that I personally struggle the most with. I hate being dramatic. I like to act like nothing is wrong and let all problems just blow over. The issue with this, though, is problems don’t fundamentally blow over. They continue to build up if you never address them. Being vulnerable is difficult. Putting yourself out there and honestly confessing your insecurities will never be easy. C.S. Lewis consistently preached on the importance of vulnerability when trying to love others. He once said
“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable”
If you keep your heart to yourself, you are never truly using it, never truly loving.
Healing relationships isn’t easy, nor will it get any easier. But, the closer we get to loving and forgiving someone wholeheartedly, the clearer it becomes for us to see what Jesus has done for us. He forgave ALL sinners, and likewise it is our calling to do the same.