“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any…”
It may seem strange, even a little odd, for me to be writing about “Estranged Relationships” on Good Friday, 2012. Nevertheless, since God sent His own Son into the world to die for the world that the world might be saved and reconciled back unto God (John 3:16), it just might be the perfect time to write about relationships. I believe God is all about promoting, maintaining, and protecting positive relationships within our lives!
In today’s world, I believe people, even those professing to be Christians, fail to recognize and understand the true value, worth, and importance of familial relationships. But, at times immediate family relationships can be the most challenging to promote, protect, and maintain. Interacting with close relatives, especially adult children – parent relationships, can be quite difficult, but to be completely submissive and obedient to God’s teachings, we need to make every effort and attempt to promote, protect, and maintain such relationships within our lives in a positive manner.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Colosse, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people (followers of Christ Jesus), holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, forbearing one another and forgiving whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you…” (Colossians 3:12-14 NIV). Possessing and nurturing a judgemental spirit of malice that refuses to “forgive,” “forget,” and “love” those closest to you does not bring honor or glory unto God; nor does it allow God’s grace and mercy to have free reign within your life. Sadly, there is a very serious Biblical and Spiritual problem involved when a person refuses to “love” those that God has ordained and placed into their lives as family. We can “choose” our friends, but God “chooses” our family! We don’t always have to agree on everything, every circumstance, or every situation, but to promote the love of God within our hearts and lives, we need to learn how to “disagree” while maintaining both peace and harmony; promoting a spirit of love rather than a spirit of division and “self-centeredness.”
I firmly believe in order to build, support, and maintain healthy relationships (family, friends, or peers) all parties involved must put forth effort to keep an honest line of communication opened at all times. This type of positive effort will help the relationship through “bumpier” times in life when “communicating” is NOT always positive, supportive, or even encouraging. Yet; by keeping communication lines opened between all parties involved it places “worth” and “value” on the relationship. Therefore, the relationship can continue to thrive, grow, and mature in the face of adversities…This shows our true desire to please God in all things.
However, what happens to those relationships that become so strained and estranged that no efforts, by either party involved, are put forth to resolve natural, human conflict? Instead of promoting “love” and reconciliation, there is a total and complete lack of communication, eventual silence, and long absences with cold indifference. In this type of estranged relationship one or both parties have determined that it’s just NOT worth the effort to invest time, energies, or attention to resolve even the slightest disagreement …Over time, even the smallest gesture of kindness is seen as being “too much” to ask or receive as both parties settle into their own designated guarded territories and boundaries.
In the New Testament book of James, we read, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something, but don’t get it.” (James 4:1-2 NIV). Many times what one or the other party actually “wants” in the relationship is “perfectionism” based upon Pride. Yet, the Bible clearly teaches, “There is NONE righteous (perfect); no not one…For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.” (Romans 10). Putting it in plain English, all parents sin and fall short of the Glory of God. All children sin. All adult children sin. All siblings sin. All cousins sin. Aunts and uncles sin. Even grandparents and great-grandparents sin…There is just no way to avoid it…We will ALL disappoint, upset, and “let down” those that we love or those who love us at one time or another…
But, as Believers and followers of Christ, we must be “willing” to submit unto the Lord and dedicate ourselves in “choosing” rather to forgive, forget, and demonstrate kindness towards those whom we love; especially our brothers and sisters in Christ (including those within our own family!). The Bible clearly teaches to forgive those who misuse and mistreat us; and to pray for our enemies….So, even if you consider a family member your enemy; you are without excuse to pray for them!
Often when an “estranged” relationship occurs between a husband and wife, it tends to end up in divorce unless some sort of intervention can be properly applied. But, what happens when the “estranged” relationship is between a parent and their adult child? Or, between two or more adult siblings? The fact that the two or more parties involved are physically related by “blood” genetics heightens the intensities of emotional pain and duress. In other words, you just can’t divorce a child or sibling and “move on” with your life when one or both parties involved have decided to “remove” and distance themselves from the genetic relationship…The two blood “related” parties are interwoven into the very existing fabrics of each other’s lives…When this type of estranged separation occurs the emotional wounds are often extremely deep and intensely painful; and can often be felt for a lifetime…
It is a fact, even found within the Bible, that with both time and distance wounds of the heart can be repaired thus repairing an “estranged” relationship. This is certainly what we should hope for. Nevertheless, what does a person do while they are waiting for the “other” party to reach a place of reconciliation? It is my opinion that we should Pray…Pray…Pray…and Pray more! In all sincerity, pray for that person’s eyes to be opened unto the leading of the Holy Spirit. Pray for their eyes to be opened to any and all deception that may be in their life. Pray for the other party’s heart to be tender and softened in the place of bitterness, malice, and unforgiveness. Pray that they will rebuke pride in their life and show forth love, kindness, and forgiveness…And, pray for them to possess a spirit of forgiveness just as God has forgiven them of their transgressions. And, with true forgiveness comes total reconciliation.
Sadly, there are way too many estranged relationships that never successfully move forward and repair themselves. My husband who is a retired minister and now works in a funeral home sees this far too often. He shares stories of loved ones who have not spoken in years or perhaps even decades to one another. Suddenly, time runs out and it is far too late to make amends. The estranged relationship travels right to the grave. The circle has been broken…And, nothing on this Earth can put it back together again. But, my dear friend, while there is still life; while there is breath; while there is still day…God’s loving reconciliation can come. Peace can prevail.
My friend, you may find yourself in an “estranged” family relationship that breaks your heart into. If so, don’t give up…God is in the business of changing hearts and changing lives. That was His purpose for coming to Earth and dying on an Old Rugged Cross for sinners like me…To bring reconciliation. I want to encourage you that while you “wait” on God to mend all the broken fences in your life, ask God to protect your own heart from becoming hardened and bitter…Ask God to keep your heart tender and loving towards the other party or parties involved…In doing so, you will be honoring Christ Jesus and promoting peace within your own heart and life. Just remember, God is well able…what is impossible with man is possible with God…AMEN…
Remember, God Loves You!
Lin T. Rollins, Author