“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. -Matthew 7:1-5 (NIV)
A friend of mine has been struggling with their relationship with one of their parent’s. The two just push each other’s buttons, and over the last few years, it’s only gotten worse.
As I was talking with my friend about the issue, they told me that they wanted to fix the relationship, but that they had tried everything and didn’t know how. They said that it almost seemed easier to just count down the days until they could move out.
I suggested that perhaps they try to meet with their parent and politely, gently, and respectfully share what they were thinking and feeling, and let them know that they wanted to restore their relationship. After all, knowing those two, I knew that they had so much in common and had so much potential for an amazing relationship and even friendship. But when I suggested that my friend told their parent that they want to repair the relationship, this friend asked if they could “add a but”.
I asked what the “but” was, and they said, “But I want them to stop shouting at me.” Which is where the problem lies. Not the shouting, but in the wanting to fix the other person. Both parties tend to shout when there is an argument. For each person, the things that frustrate them the most about the other are the things they themselves do, and shouting isn’t the only thing.
You can’t begin relationship repair by telling someone else what they need to do differently. It needs to start with us.
I suspect you clicked on this article because some relationship in your life is not what you want it to be. You’ve been reading and nodding your head with this other person in mind, thinking of all the things they do wrong, of how unfair they are to you, and how difficult they are to be around.
Here’s the thing: we can’t change or fix the other people around us. No matter how much we try. And it’s not our job, either. God is the one who sees their heart.
Here’s the other thing: we can change ourselves with God’s help. In fact, if we want to mend or repair a relationship, it has to start with us. We need to toss that list of wrongs that the other person has done—and all the ways we wish they would change—out the window. Actually, we just need to cross out their name from it and think about it in regards to ourselves. Or better yet, take another look at Jesus and try to model ourselves after Him. After all, God tells us to “be holy as I am holy” (see 1 Peter 1:14-16).
We need to be the ones to stop shouting every time we get upset. We need to be the ones who pray for the other person whether they do the same for us or not. We need to be the ones to apologize first (without accusing them in the process… Apologizing effectively is a very fine art 😉 ).
This isn’t easy. It takes work, and it’s a process. We can’t do it alone. We need the help of our gracious and loving Savior. Only He can transform us, taking off our old self and putting on our new self (see Colossians 3:5-10). But with each step, each victory, every held tongue, every eradicated bitter root, and every forgiven offence, it will be worth it.
And even though we can’t change the other person, chances are they will recognize the change in us and even start to change themselves. As you may know, it’s a lot easier to apologize after someone else has humbly apologized to you. The thing you’ve been stubbornly refusing to admit suddenly seems much smaller and easier to ask forgiveness for when you hear the other person’s contrite words. And they will certainly notice it when you respond to anger with gentleness and kindness (see Romans 12:19-21 and Proverbs 15:1). It may confuse them at first, but even confusion can diffuse anger eventually.
It’s hard, but we can do this in God’s power! Starting now, especially with that one relationship that’s been in the back of your mind as you read this post, let’s choose to try and repair relationships by starting with ourselves, rather than wishing the other person would just change already. (Since obviously arguments are not a two person thing, and all the issues much be their sole fault. (Yes, that was sarcasm 😉 ) ).
Your sister in Christ,
Hello, my name is Sara! I’s sixteen years old, I am a black-mold fighter, and I like to read, write, act, make jewelry, and have adventures. Most of which tend to be with my family whether it’s a long hike up a mountain or a fun new board game. I also write for Th!nk magazine, a free, online, Christian magazine: mythinkmag.wordpress.com. One of my favorite Scriptures is Psalm 34:5: “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”