I discovered this week how easily grudges can form without us even knowing it. Words and actions can be misconstrued, putting a strain on a relationship.
The first hint of the problem came when I received a barrage of negative FB messages from my friend. I was flabbergasted and a bit angered by the negative comments and wrongful assumptions. Many were in regards to incidents that had taken place several months earlier.
Though this individual is not someone I see in person frequently, we keep up with each other’s lives via email and messenger from time to time. And though our personalities are quite different and we’ve experienced a few bumps in the road, I thought we were on fairly friendly terms, Until her recent messages, I had no idea roots of anger and bitterness had soured her opinion of me.
When I heard how my words and actions had been twisted and misinterpreted, my first inclination was to either ignore the remarks or set her straight in a not so nice way. Then the Lord brought to mind the message woven into my latest novel, Beyond These War-Torn Lands–choosing to love those who wrong us. (A hard truth that we all struggle with, but if I write it, I figure I must also live it!).
Like my heroine, Caroline, who had to deal with a verbally abusive father who harbored hurtful feelings toward her, I had a choice to make. I could either respond harshly and defensively and let the situation mount, or I could seek to deflate the hard feelings by responding in a loving way.
After giving myself time to pray and consider how to respond in love, I proceeded to seek peace with the person instead of allowing the situation to escalate.
RESPOND IN LOVE
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” ~ Romans 12:18
It took a great deal of self-control to keep the situation in perspective. But, once I got over the initial shock and anger from the harsh words and accusations, I tried to understand why she might be lashing out at me. I knew she was dealing with some stress in her life and tried to console myself that may be why she’d come off so harshly. It didn’t excuse the behavior, but putting myself in her shoes helped calm my defenses.
I also realized differences in personalities and past disagreements played a part. I decided I need to look for ways to display more kindness and friendship.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
~ Proverbs 15:1
Negative thought patterns had blinded my friend to the truth of the matters. I responded to her messages by gently explaining my true motives and side of things and told her I was sorry she’d been hurt. I did my best to reply with a humble heart and without sounding defensive. When someone is offended, the goal is restoration, not proving we’re right.
LET IT GO
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” ~Colossians 3:13
Though our conversation ended with a sense of forgiveness and a desire to get along, I was still a bit shell-shocked over the accusations the following morning and being tempted to nurse a grudge of my own. Instantly, I felt the Lord put a check on my spirit. I needed to let the incident go and offer full forgiveness. I refused to allow the problem to rob me of joy and peace.
PRAY PRAY PRAY
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
~ James 5:16
Following our discussion, I committed to praying for this person and our relationship. Prayer and understanding are key to keeping our hearts and minds on the right path when it comes to restoring a relationship.
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