Browsed by
Month: February 2020

Making Peace (part 2)

Making Peace (part 2)

Man and woman talking

Healthy Communication

Restoring any relationship requires proper communication so don’t stop talking.  When the time comes to reconnect try your best to minimize any distractions; turn the TV off, put phones away and include only those directly involved in the original disagreement.  This is the first step Jesus tells us to take in being reconciled.  Matthew 18:15.  Matters can quickly become more complicated if we tell everyone else except the offender in an effort to garnish support for our own position.  This can deteriorate into nothing more than gossip and can turn a difficult situation into an impossible one.  There may come a time to involve others if all attempts to fix the issue yourselves fail.  Matthew 18:16.  I believe this also eludes to the importance of seeking counselling and someone to act as a mediator, but first, let’s talk about the one on one.  Welcome to Making Peace (part 2).

It is always a good idea to start with prayer.  Ask the Lord to join you and help you to understand each other.  It is only through humility that we can admit our mistakes, confess our wrongs and ask for forgiveness.  It takes two to tango so chances are, that during the original confrontation things were said by both that fell short of proper behaviour.  Take the brave step of saying sorry.  Apologize for anything that you said or did that hurt the other and aggravated the situation and always ask for forgiveness.  This clearly demonstrates to the other that you recognize your own faults and are willing to take responsibility for them.  They will usually follow suit and lower their defences making it much easier for them to grant forgiveness and apologize for their behaviour as well.  This pleases God greatly.

Forgiveness is critical to our salvation and to our relationships here on earth.  If a person apologizes and asks for forgiveness we are not to withhold it.  Matthew 6:14-15.  Once we forgive a wrong we forfeit the right to ever bring it up again.  This is when you can truly leave the past behind, it has been dealt with.  If the same thing happens again, then it must be addressed in the same manner.  There is no limit as to how many times we are to forgive.  Matthew 18:22

Please listen carefully; This does not mean that you should stay in a dangerously abusive situation of any kind.  Forgiving someone does not automatically mean that trust is restored.  That takes time.  Physical abuse can crush your body, but psychological abuse can crush your spirit.  If the offender apologizes but the behaviour continues repeatedly then you should consider ending the relationship.  Being a Christian doesn’t make you a door mat.  Ask God for His guidance as to when enough is enough and trust the answer when it comes.  If you see honest attempts to get help and efforts are being made to change then pay attention to these things, change takes time.  Patience is a godly quality and is commendable but even God’s patience runs out and it never ends well for the unrepentant.  Your well being is very important to Him and He knows exactly what you’re going through.

Be honest and speak with gentleness and compassion.  Address the issues without demeaning the person.  Avoid saying things like, “you always do this” or “you never do that.”  Try something like, “it would be helpful if you could…”  So often it’s not what we say, but how we say it that makes the difference.  If the conversation begins to heat up again lead by example and resist the urge to react in an ungodly manner.  Proverbs 15:1.  Try to be empathetic.  The Oxford Dictionary describes empathy as: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  This can only be accomplished by truly listening.  If your mind is already busy formulating a comeback, then you’re not really paying attention.  Proverbs 18:13.

If this is starting to sound like work, then good.  It’s easy to become complacent and take our loved ones for granted.  Worse than that, we may be wilfully negligent when it comes to bringing things up that bother us for fear of an argument.  In a healthy relationship we should never be afraid to share our concerns or question poor behaviour.  Speak up in a tactful, controlled manner and always start with a positive.  Relationships are about building each other up, not tearing each other down, be supportive and encourage one another.

Some people think that you only need to create boundaries in an unhealthy relationship, this is not true.  Healthy boundaries simply means knowing what you should or should not do out of respect for your loved ones wishes, just make sure you set them together.  A good example of this is my wife’s insistence on having her own bank account.  I would often joke that, “what was mine, is now hers and what was hers, is still hers.”  Joking aside, it bothered me at first, but after thinking it through I decided that it wasn’t a big deal.  She was always better at handling money than I was and given my track record, I really couldn’t blame her.  Sometimes boundaries get broken.  We think that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to get permission, especially if permission is hard to get.  Let’s face it, some things are so ingrained in us that change seems all but impossible, yet, with God, all things are possible.  Matthew 19:26.

It’s okay to disagree on things.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  We can agree to disagree without becoming disagreeable.  This is when true Christian maturity shines bright and the level of commitment to the relationship becomes evident.  The “my way or the highway” ultimatum is a control move designed to ignite fear that the relationship could fall apart if they don’t get their way.  On the world stage this usually leads to war.  Mutual respect and patience can go a long way toward getting some of what we want without the use of force that leads to resentment.

Try to maintain a sense of humour, even during difficult times.  Humour lightens a situation, it doesn’t mean that you take the situation lightly.  A good laugh is healthy for us, both physically and emotionally.  It not only decreases stress hormones and increases infection fighting antibodies but it actually relieves physical tension and helps your muscles relax.  Can you see how this could really help during a confrontation?  I like to laugh a lot, especially at myself.  Proverbs 17:22.

Counselling & Mediation

If all attempts to find a solution fail then make every effort to seek help early on, don’t give bitterness a chance to take root.  Any pastor or councillor can testify to the failure rate of trying to bring healing into a situation where minds are already made up.  Stiff necks and hard hearts lead to an unwillingness to compromise and the relationship ends.  When heels are dug in, the ability to think clearly and rationally or even to hear what’s really being said becomes all but impossible.

As followers of Christ we accept the Bible as the ultimate source of truth and moral standard so we have always enlisted the help of true believers that we know and trust.  This has included friends, pastors and professional councillors.  If you don’t know of any Christian councillors then ask the pastor or elders of a Bible believing church for a recommendation or talk to people who have been helped by a particular one.  Jesus understands our suffering and walks with us through our struggles.  Hebrews 4:12-16 is a strong and compelling reason to include Him in the reconciliation process.

Some will seek guidance only from those who support their point of view or that can be manipulated into taking it.  To a narcissist, a councillor becomes just another pawn to be used in the game.  Through the telling of half truths and outright deception they can preprogram the councillor into telling them exactly what they want to hear.  Of course they would never agree to you being in the room or even giving you the opportunity to speak with this councillor to set the record straight.  It just a charade.  Now they can run about saying, “I saw a councillor and they agreed that continual discord is not healthy for anyone.”  While this is true, the continual discord may very well be caused by their inability and unwillingness to come to the table and deal with the issues.  Getting back to the above verse in Hebrews, Jesus knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Even when faced with overwhelming evidence that God commands us to go and be reconciled and that the very foundation of our faith is built on forgiveness, they may say, “…someday, but not right now.”

My friends, it has been my experience that the road of someday, usually leads to the land of never.  So where is the victory if all efforts fail?  If you have done everything that God would have you do to heal your relationship, then before Him your conscience is clear.  He knows the thoughts and motivations of those who opposed the healing process.  Trusting that God knows what’s best for you is the only path to true and lasting peace.  May the God of all comfort, grace and mercy be with you as you move forward in all your relationships.

If you have enjoyed this post please bookmark us or add us to your home screen.  If you know someone who is struggling and you think this blog might help them please share our site.


Image – picspree

Oxford Dictionary – online – The benefits of laughter

Making Peace (part 1)

Making Peace (part 1)


“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Matthew 5:9

Anytime you help yourself or someone else in healing a broken relationship you are a “peacemaker” and God delights in you.  You are literally carrying on the work of the Prince of Peace.  Friendships that last a lifetime and marriages that go the distance “till death do us part” don’t happen by chance.  Likewise with strong families, where each member has mastered the ability to overlook the molehills and when a mountain does come along, they climb it together.  We are called to love, support and care for one another, to love our friends and neighbours as our selves.  In reality, we need God and we need each other, that’s the way we are made.  I know that it isn’t easy at times…in fact, without God, it would be all but impossible with some folks.  All of us must strive to guard our close relationships with tenderness and endurance.  Welcome to Making Peace (part 1).

We all have strengths and weaknesses, favourable qualities and character flaws, but as different as we all are, we share a common curse.  We live in a fallen world.  We can all be enticed and dragged away by our own sinful desires.  This is the best answer that I have found in the Bible as to why Christian marriages end, family members become disposable and friendships are abandoned.  James 1:14  Even though as Christians we have been freed from slavery to sin, we haven’t completely lost the taste for it.  As much as it would be wonderful to live in perfect peace and harmony every moment of every day, well…that’s just not realistic.

Arguments, disagreements and confrontations do happen in relationships and can actually be quite healthy.  They may be caused by differing opinions on an important matter or a simple misunderstanding, maybe even a poor attempt at humor that led to hurt feelings.  The fact that they happen isn’t nearly as important as HOW they are handled.  Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that we will have tribulation in this world.  The Oxford Dictionary describes tribulation as: a state of great trouble or suffering.  That doesn’t mean just “out” in the world, but in our own homes, even in our Christian homes.  This is not a threat to healthy households whose members remain in Christ and act accordingly.  As parents we strive to ensure that our children make healthy choices and are quick to correct dangerous or poor behaviour.  We do this because we love them.  God does the same thing with us and commands us to do the same with each other.  This can sometimes mean correcting our parents.  Obeying our father and our mother does not come before obedience to God.  I’m not talking about nitpicking every little thing.  Proverbs 19:11 states that it is to our credit to overlook an offence.  What I am taking about is witnessing major transgressions that could lead to their destruction and the destruction of others.  Proverbs 6:12-19 is a sobering description of just such offences.  If you truly love them, you will take action.  The Holy Spirit, Who is alive and well in the heart of every true believer, will guide you in this process if you let Him.  God will never ask us to do something and not provide the help and courage to move forward.

You can chose your friends, you can chose your spouse, but you can’t chose the family you are born into.  Family issues take on a different dynamic, never the less, the following advice works well for all relationships.

If you have been in a relationship for a significant period of time, you will have experienced successes and failures, gains and losses, periods of happiness and times of deep sadness.  This is perfectly normal as we travel together through life.  Most minor disagreements and annoyances are of little consequence in a healthy relationship.  It’s the major blow outs, the ones that threaten an otherwise stable friendship that leave us feeling mentally and physically drained.  These are the times when it is extremely important to guard against bitterness and unhealthy thoughts.  Avoid the temptation to “throw in the towel.”  I may be going out on a limb here but I believe that as complex and widely varied as relationship issues are, the following statement is true for all; when a relationship ends, someone isn’t getting either what they want or what they need.  There is a difference.  How wonderful it would be if we were all able to align our hearts with what God wants.  He knows exactly what each one of us needs.

Take Time

The best thing to do when an argument gets heated and tempers flare is to stop.  This is not easy, we are emotional beings and the desire to be right and to win an argument compels us to stay in the battle until the white flag of surrender is raised.  Yelling doesn’t make you right and swearing only reveals your lack of self-control.  All too often things get said that you wish you could take back.  Adrenaline can cause us to lose focus and become enraged, it’s time to stop.  Be mindful of how you leave the situation.  Don’t stomp, throw or slam your way out and don’t insist on having the last word, just calmly walk away.  Be sure to let them know that you understand the importance of the subject and are not trying to avoid it, but need time to calm down.  Make the commitment to revisit the issue after taking some time to think things through and regain your clarity.

Take time to reflect on what happened and try to identify the “root cause” of the disagreement.  Underlying issues are not always easy to spot but if they remain undetected and untreated the behaviour is likely to continue.  We may even have these issues inside ourselves and not even be aware of them.  Look inwardly and ask yourself some tough questions.  Are hurtful words and careless actions you have experienced in the past subconsciously controlling your reactions in the now?  PTSD isn’t just a military term.  It is possible that something triggered you.  Do your best to identify what it was and put it into the proper perspective with regard to the current issue.

Our words and actions reveal what lies in our heart so speak carefully and always with love, make sure your actions line up with what you say.  Ask God to expose anything that may be hampering the reconciliation.  Making peace takes work, guard against bitterness at all cost.  Make every effort to ensure that your motivation is as pure and reasonable as possible.  Is it a “righteous” request?  If you are convinced that, before God, your position is right then you will be far better prepared to state your case when you reconvene.  This is one of the most important reasons to read your Bible, there is no defence against the Word of God.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

Don’t quickly scan its pages looking for a verse to hurl like a missile, but “speak the truth in love.”  Ephesians 4:15  Sadly there are those who diligently study the Word only looking for ways they can use it to achieve their own agenda.  They have great biblical knowledge but lack the wisdom to put it to proper use to the glory of God.

Have you ever had these thrown at you?  “Don’t judge” or “Take that log out of your eye.”  First of all, if Jesus didn’t want us to recognise evil at work He wouldn’t have told us about the fruits of the Spirit or warn us of the wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Matthew 7:15-20  The important thing is that we don’t judge under a spirit of condemnation, but that we have the person’s best interest at heart.  That we love them.  Remember, we are all sinners and we all fall short of the glory of God.  We all need forgiveness and must be willing to forgive others.  If the person you’re trying to help doesn’t truly believe that you love them…they won’t hear you.

God must come first, followed by the best interests of others before our own.  We are all selfish to varying degrees so it can be difficult, but that’s what love does.  Take time to pray for the person.  Ask God to unplug their ears and open their hearts to the truth.  Bringing a loved one before the Lord in prayer is a loving gift that invites true power into the situation, so be specific.  If it’s ungodly behaviour then name it and pray against it.  Ask God to give them the grace and humility to recognize the issue and the strength and wisdom to change it.  Be patient, change takes time.  I think one reason my wife was able to hang on through my alcoholism was that she witnessed my honest and wholehearted attempts to change my behaviour and always let me know that she appreciated my efforts.  I don’t ever recommend turning a blind eye to ungodly behaviour as little things can become big deals over time.

You obviously care a great deal about your relationship and are devoted to healing it.  This is the most critical element on the road to reconciliation, both parties must be deeply committed to the healing process.  A one sided relationship will not last.  When one person is always giving and the other is always taking the giver becomes depleted and miserable.  As you take time to think about the situation look for ways to compromise and be willing to meet them somewhere in the middle.   You must draw the line at things God is clearly against, just be sure that is the case and then set a good example.  Be understanding, be gentle and self-controlled.

When you feel confident that sufficient time has passed for a constructive and meaningful conversation to begin, let them know that you wish to continue.  Don’t rush it.  They may take a little longer to come around.  This may take a few days or even a few weeks but don’t let it go too long.  If they tell you to “stop bringing up the past” or that the subject is “not open to any further discussion,” these are control moves designed to avoid and are a clear indication of a lack of commitment.  If it was important enough to cause such division then it must be dealt with or it will come up again.

If you have enjoyed part 1 of Making Peace be sure to bookmark us or add us to your home screen.  If you know someone who is struggling, please share this post.

Continue with part 2 of Making Peace


Image – Pixabay

Oxford Dictionary – online – How and When should we overlook an offence.

Dealing with the Pain of Family Estrangement

Dealing with the Pain of Family Estrangement

Sorrowful man

Family estrangement is among the most heartbreaking of all human experiences.  Feelings of grief, anger and disbelief cloud your mind as you desperately search for answers.  Welcome to Dealing with the Pain of Family Estrangement.  Understanding and accepting the truth is critical to moving forward into the life that God intended for you.  John 10:10

God loves families and all relationships that are built on truth, mutual respect and understanding, the devil hates them and will do everything in his power to destroy them.  Satan and his demons are hell bent on your destruction and will seek out and use anyone who is willing to go against the will of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit to take you out.  The devil is actively trying to destroy Christian families.

The first thing I would like to offer in helping you deal with the pain of family estrangement is this;  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  I do understand that at times it can feel like it, but even as I write this there are countless tens of thousands suffering the same fate.  Estrangement is no respecter of country or culture, age or gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or social standing.  It can happen suddenly or be years in the making, more often than not it’s the latter.  Family estrangement is wide spread and is often referred to as a silent epidemic, being almost as common as divorce in some segments of society.  A study done by The University of Cambridge Centre for Family Research and the UK non-profit, Stand Alone, cited the number one cause of estrangement as experienced by adult children with their parents is emotional abuse.  The wounds from physical abuse tend to heal much faster than the psychological scaring left behind by emotional abuse.  The reasons for cutting contact are as varied and individual as a persons own story.  Each case is unique, and, as with any matter of the heart…complicated.  Estrangement from a parent almost always involves estrangement from other family members which may only be temporary, but can also be permanent.   

I don’t know what stage of this process you’re in, but I imagine you’re where I was when I began searching for help.  If you’ve read our “About Author” page, graphic as it is, that gives you some idea of the pain I was in.  I read the Bible from cover to cover eagerly searching for instructions on being reconciled.  They are there, clear and straightforward.  I talk about these steps in “Making Peace.”

I would like to share a lesson with you, one that I had to learn the hard way.  My refusal to believe that this brokenness was irreparable in a family where every member was a professing Christian prolonged my suffering.  I learned this lesson in the business world long before I realized that it applies to relationships as well.  In business it’s often referred to as “not continuing to beating a dead horse.”  In other words, if something isn’t working, move on to something else.  Deciding when to move on is a deeply personal decision, one that you will have to make for yourself.  I mention this only because from the first red flags and warning signs to the time of my father’s passing, there was over thirty years of heartache.  I don’t believe for a second that the Lord intended me to suffer that long.  I now know that those who do not love you, can’t stop you from loving them.  They don’t have that kind of power.  Continuing to pray for them is a very powerful act of love, one that brings a smile to the face of God.  Reconciliation always takes two.  If they continually block and resist any attempt to heal and finally cut off all communication, then, my friend, that’s on them.

If you are really struggling emotionally I cannot overemphasize the importance of getting help.  Talking to someone who genuinely cares and is willing to listen to you and empathize with your situation is always a good thing.  If you don’t have anyone you trust enough to open up to, then seek out a qualified therapist or counsellor.  Personally, I have always sought out Christian counselling, but it’s up to you.

If you are in a dark place with no light at the end of the tunnel, if you are losing all hope, PLEASE LISTEN.  You are enormously valuable and deeply loved by God.  One glance at the cross should remind us all of the sacrifice Jesus made for each one of us.  I have always believed that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  Most countries have a crisis line staffed with professionals who are ready to help.  Don’t hesitate to call. There is no shame in this, my friend.

Dealing with the pain of family estrangement is a long and emotionally draining process.  I know in a world of instant this and instant that it would be nice to find a quick fix, but that’s not possible with heartbreak.  You’re just going to have to go through it.

I have never been a fan of the word closure.  There’s no magic door that you walk through and once it closes behind you, it doesn’t hurt any more.  It’s been my experience that grief never ends, it just changes over time.  I know you can get there too.  However, If you are in the early stages of estrangement then moving on is probably not an acceptable option.  I understand how powerful love is and how difficult it can be to let go.

Try journaling, there are no rules here, just start writing down your thoughts and feelings.  It’s a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.  I am a person who needs to write important, life altering events down soon after they happen as a defence mechanism against “gaslighting.”  I began doing this in my twenties, long before I had ever heard the term.  Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that can cause you to question your own memory, perception and even your own sanity.  It is a tactic commonly used by narcissists and other abusers in order to gain and maintain power and control over the victim.  Your journal is your own private safe place to get your feelings out, to vent.  Look back on it from time to time to see if you’re making progress and if you have learned anything new about yourself or the situation.

Our family of origin is meant to be our safe harbour, a place where we truly belong.  As a child we need attention, nurturing and love, we need to be cared for and included.  When we reach adulthood and start a family of our own we no longer need our parents to care for us in the same way as when we were a child, but we still need them to care.  Adult children still need affirmation and emotional support.  They still need to be included in family matters, celebrations and events.  We need advice and guidance from people we trust…we need our parents.

Being hurt and rejected by the very ones who are supposed to love and protect us is extremely hard to handle or accept.  The stigma that surrounds estrangement is thinning, but it does still exist.  The fact that people are willing to talk about the issue more openly is incredibly helpful to those who are suffering.  It is perfectly understandable to be reluctant about bringing it up with friends for fear of judgment.  “Wow, not even their own family wants anything to do with them.  There’s gotta be something wrong, after all, family is everything…right?”  My friend, listen to me carefully; Family isn’t so much about blood, it’s who’s willing to be there for you when you really need it.

Dealing with the pain of family estrangement can lead some to withdraw from all relationships, leaving them vulnerable and lonely.  Don’t go down this road.  Not everyone will treat you as poorly as your family of origin.  It’s important to rebuild the capacity to trust people.  This is more difficult for some than others so don’t rush it, move forward at your own pace.  Be honest with your own family, your spouse and children.  Tell them what’s going on and how you’re feeling about recent developments.  They have a need and a right to know, secrets are extremely harmful to any household.

Focus on your own well being, your mental and physical health.  Stay active and get involved in things you enjoy.  If you’re unable to enjoy anything right now, then force the issue.  I have found a great deal of relief and satisfaction in helping others who need it.  I understand how difficult it can be to think of anything else, I do, I was there.  Believe me when I say, it does get easier as time goes by.  Focus on your healthy relationships and spend as much time as you can with people who truly love you, they are your real family.

I spent many years trying to numb the pain by self medicating with various substances, this prolonged my suffering as well.  My wife and children suffered with me through that terrible time.  What seems to be helpful can quickly become a crippling addiction.  A temporary reprieve from the pain which is only amplified as you sober up.  There’s no shame in reaching out to those who care about you for help, it’s actually a sign of strength.  Having friends check on you from time to time and keep you accountable is comforting and reassuring.  God works through organizations like AA & NA just as He does through doctors and nurses to bring healing to the afflicted.  Chances are pretty good that there is a meeting near you.  I have been blessed with a strong and devoted wife who never gave up on me.  She continued to pray everyday for years and years for my deliverance, she was not disappointed.  Our family is healthy and growing.  Our children are married with children of their own.  We are not perfect, no families is, but we are close and supportive of each other.  We care about feelings, opinions and concerns and we listen to each other about such things.  It saddens me when I remember how at risk my own family was due to my fixation on and my obsessing over trying to fix the unfixable.

It’s always sad when a once close relationship ends.  If both parties are in agreement that things just aren’t working out, it’s a bit easier to stomach, but when the break up is one sided, it can be gut wrenching.  If you have found this post helpful please be sure to bookmark us or add us to your home screen.  God willing, I have many more to come.


Image – Pixabay – Support for people who are estranged