Have you ever been left to pick up the shattered pieces of a broken relationship? Rebuilding broken relationships can be really hard.
But God gives us the tools and the encouragement we need for not only reconciliation, but for restoration. And this is what we should be seeking with every believer.
So if you have a relationship that comes to mind as you read these words, I want to share hope and direction with you today. God is ready to help you rebuild the broken relationships in your life as much as it depends on you.
I’ve walked through the pain of several shattered relationships of different kinds.
I’ve dealt with broken friendships that seemed to have no hope of restoration. I’ve seen relationships with fellow church members fall to the weight of Satan’s influence and struggle to overcome that brokenness. I’ve lived with broken family relationships. And for so long, I tried to navigate these difficult relationships without the guidance that God so clearly gives us.
God tells us exactly how we are to handle broken relationships and the hurts that may precede them. He tells us how we can walk through these relationships, seeking reconciliation and peace.
And He gives us the strength and the tools to remain loving and steadfast as we seek to heal these broken parts of our lives.
But Satan wants us stuck in these broken relationships. He wants the strife and the struggle. He wants the division.
If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. -Mark 3:25
Satan knows that if we allow the stronghold of division to remain between us as believers, we cannot stand in God’s will. We cannot stand in God’s hope. And we cannot spread His love with others.
If you feel the weight of a broken relationship in your life, I want to encourage you that God wants to lead you to reconciliation and restoration. This is His ultimate goal.
But I also want you to remember that sometimes, restoration is not possible. If this is the case (which you may determine after reading this post), there is still hope for healing. We are to seek peace as much as it depends on us. And after this, we are to leave it up to God.
So let’s dig into how we can seek to heal broken relationships in our life.
When Someone Sins Against You
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. -Matthew 18:15-17
I haven’t paid as close attention to these verses as I have in the past few months. Our church does a wonderful job of fostering reconciliation by encouraging us to follow this instruction when we are struggling with a brother or sister who sins or who sins against us.
If you have been hurt by a fellow Christian’s sin, there are some very important things we need to NOT do and some very clear steps we are to take.
- Gossip about what is going on
- Harbor bitter and angry feelings
- Bring in a bunch of others to validate your feelings and help you deal with the person
- Mistreat this person
These are some of the easiest things to fall into. One of the biggest traps that I’ve faced and seen others face is the true desire to let it go and forgive, while still harboring the hurts and therefore the bitterness.
If you cannot simply forgive and let it go, it is essential that you address the problem. We’ll talk more on this in a minute.
For now, let’s talk about how you can walk forward following these steps.
1. Just Between the Two of You
The very first thing you need to do is to have a discussion between the two of you. Don’t bring others into the situation unneccessarily. It is important to try and resolve the issue between the two of you. This avoids spreading gossip, complicating the hurt and communication and gives God a chance to bring healing between the two of you.
But if this doesn’t prove to work, it may be time to move to the next step.
2. Take Another Along
It is important to find someone that is living based on the truth and can help to resolve this issue in an unbiased way. If a friend hurts you, it’s probably not the best idea to bring two of your friends, thus causing the other person to feel outnumbered. This will likely lead to poor communication and a less-than-fruitful conversation.
When I’ve faced this step before, I’ve found an unbiased and yet very godly and wise woman who could not only help mediate, but also help us both to stand firm on the truth.
If the person still does not listen and continues forward in their sin, it will painfully be time to move to the next step.
3. Step Back and Set Boundaries
When dealing with church-wide problems and leaders living in sin, this process may look more severe. But when dealing with relational hurts and broken relationships, I tend to see this step as stepping back from the relationship and setting boundaries.
If this person is not willing to listen and stop sinning against you or if the hurt is going to continue after you have honestly sought healing and restoration, it may be time to step back. It is not healthy to continue to put yourself through a hurtful relationship when a believer is not willing to accept and repent of their sin.
This step should be avoided at all costs.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. -Romans 12:18
It is important to strive to find reconciliation and healing as much as it depends on you. But if you have done all you can, you need to guard your heart and your relationship with the Lord. If this is the case, step back and set boundaries. Be prayerful about this process and ask God to show you how you can do this with this specific relationship.
Confrontation vs Non-Confrontation
When trying to decide whether or not a hurt feeling or brokenness in relationship needs addressing, it is important to consider your heart and your personality.
Simply put, if you cannot find healing and truly let go of the bitterness and anger without having a conversation with the person, you need to confront them.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. -Ephesians 4:26-27
Paul makes it clear that we aren’t to let anger sit with us for long. When we do, Satan gets a foothold. I have seen this firsthand. When anger and bitterness brew, Satan gets an open invite to spew lies and draw you away from peace and love.
This makes it that much harder for you to ever find peace.
Some people are great at simply letting things go. My husband is this way. If he is hurt or upset about something, he can simply decide to let it go and deep within his heart he finds peace.
I am not this way. I really struggle when I am hurt. And I desperately want to seek resolution with the one who hurt me. It is hard for me to surrender anger. And so I take time and I pray hard and I wait for God to work. But many times, I need to confront those who have hurt me.
It isn’t easy, but I have seen God do tremendous healing and grow relationships in ways that never would have without this confrontation.
So as you pray and consider the state of your heart, think about these things and take time to decide if you should pursue confrontation or simply forgive and let the hurts go.
Healing For Our Own Hearts
Often times when someone sins against us or hurts us, we see the problem as simply with the offender. But after this happens, Satan has an opportunity to work within our own hearts.
The problem may have been started by another, but now our own hearts have been dragged into the brokenness and need a healing work in order to find true peace and restoration.
When we are hurt, we cannot simply seek an apology and seek to forgive, but we must also seek healing for the hurts we have obtained.
Oftentimes these hurts bring up old ways of thinking, lies and painful memories that threaten to ensnare us. We must seek healing for our own hearts in order to find true peace after we are hurt.
So how do we find this healing?
Pray continually. I find it helpful to write out prayers that boldly ask God to reveal these broken places to me and help me to find healing. Pray that Satan would leave and surrender the hurts to the Lord daily.
We must also actively forgive. This means that we can’t just stop with the forgiveness. We must be intentional to love on the ones who have hurt us, whether this is actively or more privately in prayer. Take steps forward that help to solidify this forgiveness and this will also bring you healing.
Finding healing after being hurt is essential to truly healing and rebuilding broken relationships. Take time to honestly seek after God in this process.