Harsh words in the heat of anger. Accusations flying with no patience or logic to restrain them. Kindness being overlooked for rightness. So much hurt can be dealt by those we love.
We let them into our intimate, safe spaces. We trust them with our hearts and our realness. In return, every relationship has some risk of pain. That does not mean that it is not worth loving, worth trusting or worth forgiving . . . but it takes healing.
At its core, healing is a process. Particularly where relationships are concerned, there are at least two perspectives and two wounded souls doing battle. Here are some steps to help:
- Listen to what you’re saying and what the other person is saying. I didn’t use “hear” because so many of us hear what we want, hear the opening where we can jump in to be right and hear the sound of our own pulse pounding in our heads as we get enraged. Stop. Listen. Really make sure you are understanding the tone, the facts, the motivations.
- Empathize with the other person. This is not easy when you’re upset, but come at it from the, “How are they feeling and why?” and “Which of their points are valid?” and “How is their hurt showing?” Be willing to humble yourself, even if you are not in the wrong. Be willing to understand that a perception does not have to be a permanent viewpoint. Care for them.
- Tell them what you are feeling in a calm, rational way. Sit down instead of stand over them. Take deep breaths and really desire to make things better. Perhaps, give each person 3 minutes to share their side without interruption. Use language that is not accusatory, mean or disrespectful. They won’t hear you and will shut down. Be patient and honest.
- Go toward change. Healing can require a breather of time, space and location. Let them have it and give it to yourself. It can be far better to step away, rather than to lash out or tap out entirely. Use the distance to reflect on the situation without playing the “Here’s why I’m right and s/he’s wrong” reel in your head. Dwelling on hurt and mistakes only leaves us dwelling in pain. When you’re ready, find a neutral space to re-engage thoughtfully.
In essence, “LET Go” of bitterness and bridge gaps with love. Show that you can be your best and believe the other person will do the same. It takes time and genuine effort.
Healing is not restoring, so embrace the fact that you may not get back to who/where you were before. Brokenness does not always rebound to the same form. But, like melting metal to extract the impurities and make it stronger, your relationship may be strengthened too.
A serious and separate matter is abuse. If you are fearful for your body, your spirit or your well-being, please visit the “Is this Abuse?” page from The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Get guidance, get help. You are loved and not alone.
“Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” Jeremiah 33:6 NIV