Our relationship with God and others is very precious. The enemy likes to destroy our relationships with our husband and others (sisters, brothers, mom, dad, friends).

Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

When we resolve things in our relationships with each other is when we heal, grow, and thrive. The enemy will do anything to cause misunderstanding like: I didn’t hear you right, or by saying/doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. God ordained that husband and wife be as one flesh. That’s how precious our relationships are. A strong city had walls and gates. When someone is offended in a relationship, we need to see the enemy is working – not ignorant of his device.

Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

Where does the enemy try to work? He wants to get in the middle and separate us when we get offended. The scripture says take heed that you’re not consumed by each other in biting and devouring one another.

Galatians 5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Jesus, in sacrificial love for the church, gave everything and it hurt. He was in agony in the garden and didn’t want to die, but he did it in sacrificial love for us. We need to be the same way – to love our companion with a sacrificial love by giving ourselves. Sometimes things will not feel like they’re fair in our relationships. When we hear both sides of a story, both people think they’re giving 60-70%. Paul spoke about the church, but of husbands and wives in particular.

Ephesians 5:25-29 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word…present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle…that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth…as the Lord the church:

Sacrificial love applies to friendships also. There’s an extra care and willingness to sacrifice. That willingness to sacrifice is a mystery and doesn’t make sense. It feels like “I’m the one doing all the work.” We need to be aware of that feeling in others. It’s beautiful when we push past that feeling, willingly sacrificing ourselves. Jesus was a real human being and suffered in his flesh for us. He wants us to pattern our lives like his. We must push past our feeling of “it’s not fair.”

Jesus talked about difficult relationships and said to bless those who curse us. It’s not easy, you don’t always feel like doing it because we have an adversary that tells us things. It can feel very discouraging and be right in your own house. Jesus said be perfect or complete like our heavenly Father. Jesus died for us and we should resolve our conflicts in love.

Matthew 5:44-48…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you…do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

We’re supposed to use the struggles we learn from in our marriage or other relationships to help others.

 II Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be God…Father of mercies, and…all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

A mother and her baby that had a healthy attachment were in a study. The mother changed her facial expression to lack any expression and the baby got very upset to not see a response. When we approach someone who looks angry, our reaction will be negative. The baby had no training to respond as it did. It is a human response to react to what we see, a comforting or a negative reaction. A comforting expression will help us self regulate. If you think of a child, we understand the panic of the psalmist as a desparate cry for help and calming when we can’t perceive God. In healthy relationships, we need nurturing, safety, comfort, a place to solve problems, and to see that others think we’re important. The need for these things doesn’t stop with babies, but we need it in our relationships with others. If we say, “Mom, I have to tell you something” but she says “I don’t have time,” then we feel like she’s dismissed us. It’s an attachment disruption that hurts and makes us feel like we’re not important. If Mom sees you and talks to you, it’s calming. Thriving happens when there’s a healthy connection. If we have healthy relationships, we have strength to go out and to be a witness.

Trauma events are stored in our mid brain when we can’t do anything about the situations. When we’re able to resolve conflicts and problems, the events are not stored like trauma is. The event can only stay in storage for so long, so we may have to deal with a trauma that happened at 12 years old when we’re 40 years old. Something will trigger the trauma when our life is not quite so busy. We’ll be doing something that reminds us of the trauma and react to similar situations with anxiety and fear. There’s a way to clear the events so they don’t bother us. We have to be aware.

A: Am I part of the problem?

W: What can I do different?

A: Am I listening (or just waiting for the other to finish)?

R: React with kindness.

E: Expect a ripple effect. (Those around us will benefit by our new way of reacting.)

People that don’t defend and blame use kindness, generosity, and respect to solve hard situations. Using a soft tone of voice is part of showing kindness. The defend and blame way doesn’t result in solved problems.

If we aren’t finding comfort in our relationships, we’ll look in other directions: people, work, cell phones, food, books, or other things. Our first relationship should be the foundation of a healthy relationship with our heavenly Father. That will help us endure other relationships and difficulties that aren’t so healthy. When we were young, we may have found it hard to handle rough situations, but learning to cast our care on God helps us endure and learn. When we go through situations that aren’t fair or seem like they’ll never change, we can feel near despair. In those times God is our rock that we go to for comfort. God created us to be connected to each other so we can help others. God wants us to love each other. The enemy will try to hinder our relationships so we need to be aware of it. Not taking situations personally when we have struggles and realizing the enemy is working can help us not be hurt in misunderstandings. We’ll be one step ahead of the enemy, instead of thinking “they did it again.” At times we will get angry and the devil will show up but we don’t have to give him a place. We can say things to give grace and edify, not corrupt communications.

Ephesians 4:26-32 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more…working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may…give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to…edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God…Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away…be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God…hath forgiven you.

In any relationship we need to be open, vulnerable, attentive, responsive, willing to engage, not harsh or critical.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

It’s a mystery to be self sacrificing but we can do it and that’s when the peace of God rules in our hearts. We’re obeying his teaching even when it doesn’t make sense. Abraham offered Isaac when it didn’t make sense but he knew God would work it out. If God asks us to do things that don’t make sense, he wants us to trust him. God created us to nurture, comfort, and help each other – not to tear each other apart. At the end of our life will we be saying, I wish I’d been meaner to my companion, firmer with my neighbor, friend, parent? No, we’ll say “I wish I’d been kinder or sweeter.”

Colossians 3:8-15 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another…put off the old man with his deeds…Put on therefore… bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;  Forbearing…forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel…as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And…put on charity…let the peace of God rule in your hearts…and be ye thankful.

 

(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Helene Goble)