Reading time: two minutes.
How about a quick scan of the emotional state of our relationships?
We’re so thankful for the meteorologists who, by assessing the state of the atmosphere, helped many, many people avoid an even worse disaster in Texas and in Florida. Relationships have an atmosphere too.
Have you ever walked into a home and within a few minutes noticed, “Something is wrong here”? It’s hard to hide tension and conflict between people.
Three warning signs of conflict in a relationship could include 1) a change of mood when someone you don’t really want to see walks in the room, 2) thinking about a bad relationship the last thing at night and the first thing in the morning, and 3) a desire to see someone else suffer. Let’s take a look.Just as a feeling of joy upon seeing a friend (or spouse!) is a sign of a good relationship, a gloomy, bitter feeling is a sign of conflict. Bitterness is a result of feeling hurt or slighted by someone. It might be a word, a deed, an un-kept promise, a sideways glance. It’s a sign of a relationship out of balance.
Unhealthy dwelling on a point of conflict is an indicator that something needs to be resolved. If it keeps you awake or wakes you up, there’s trash that needs to be taken out. If it’s not cleaned up, the result is malice, a desire for someone else to suffer in order to even out the relationship.
Sadly, these kinds of moods in relationships are very common in marriage and also very common in churches. Because we have such love for family and for our church family, the passion can make us more sensitive to hurt, and to bitterness that can lead to anger and malice.
One of my favorite phrases, often repeated in Scripture is, “But thanks be to God…” How blessed and fortunate we are that when God saw how completely unable we are of living in harmony and peace with one another, He sent His Son, Jesus to do for us what we could never do.
Jesus takes out the trash.
When we sense any of the indicators of a change in the atmosphere of a relationship (and just like with hurricane warnings, the sooner, the better) when we’re at our best, we hear it as a call to repentance and reconciliation.
This is the good news of Jesus Christ. God’s law teaches us that none of us are without fault in relationships. Both parties always contribute in some way to the conflict.
And the gospel is God’s abiding, ubiquitous promise of hope, forgiveness, healing and restoration. Mutual confession and absolution changes the mood in relationships. The devil’s foothold is removed. Jesus enters with healing love and grace and peace. He takes out the trash.
Watch for the warning signs. Run for shelter. Rejoice in the Son-shine!
Thanks for reading.
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