In a broken world, broken relationships are in abundance. It seems there’s always someone we’d like to be closer with, apologize to, or never see again.
A couple years ago, that was one of my brothers. We’d always had a rocky relationship, and it just kept getting worse from the lack of maintenance. To be honest, I didn’t care what happened.
God did, though, and He changed my heart, giving me a desire to heal that relationship.
It turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would. But God stepped in again and helped me through every trial, pulling me back in when I wanted to give up. Right now, I’m struggling through the same thing with another person, trying to fix things now that they’ve gone wrong.
Fortunately, when we want to heal relationships, the Bible tells us how. We’re not left to blindly figure out what will make things right and what will make them worse. We have clear instructions given in two main steps.
Maybe it sounds obvious, but the first step is to pray for the person you want to get closer to. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast all our anxieties on the Lord because He cares for us. Broken relationships hurt, and God wants us to bring our pain to Him.
Another reason to pray is that it will begin to change your attitude toward the person. With my brother, I could hardly stand to be around him. It was really sad. When I prayed for him, though, I had to think about what was going on in his life: his joys, his struggles, his faith. That made me see him as a real person – not just an enemy I had to endure.
This next step seems rather broad and, yet again, obvious. But remember that love is not a feeling. Love is an action.
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)
Our culture wants us to believe that love is just some feeling you get that makes you really happy when you’re around another person, and it isn’t necessarily a long term thing.
They have it entirely wrong, though.
In a messy relationship, it takes a lot of humility to love the other person without those good feelings.
Sometimes, the love is manifested passively. With my brother, I made myself stop talking whenever I wanted to be sarcastic or insult him. Once I had been doing that for a while, it was easier to love him by asking how his day was or what he was coding for Minecraft. That’s the active part and it has to follow after anything passive.
Let me repeat: love is an action. Not arguing isn’t enough. We have to reach out.
This step ties in directly with the previous one. On our own, we don’t have the capacity to love someone through the sin. We must pray for the strength and humility to do simple acts of love. Over time, it becomes easier to do more and more for the other person. The feelings may be a long time in coming, but the love has already come.
These two steps aren’t a one time thing. I still pray for the brother I struggled to love because we are both still sinners and I don’t want the relationship to crumble again.
Don’t stop after just one person, either. I like to really focus on one person at a time, but that doesn’t mean I should stop all progress on a relationship I’ve already worked on. They take time, and they must be maintained.
As a last note, I would encourage you to face those hard relationships. Nothing will grow you quite the same way, painful as it may be. If you have to apologize, do. If you have to forgive, do. It hurts, but it’s worth it.
Thanks for writing this Kira! 😉 It’s a great reminder!
Thank you so much, Kira! Just went through a hard friendship kind of ending, and I think that this will help me so much. Thank you for reminding me of what should be obvious but isn’t always.
Often the obvious things are the ones hardest for us to see. I’ll be praying for you Amelia – I’m glad this could help. <3
Kira, I’m so excited to read this! I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
In the meantime, I just wanted to thank @jaquellecrowe for her awesome article on Desiring God. As an athlete (read, “girl with muscles”) I can totally relate, and that was extremely helpful. Thanks!
(I didn’t see a place to comment on their site, so I’m doing it here, sorry.)
Figuring out that love is an action is probably the one thing thing that has helped me the most in my relationships – it’s so hard though! Thanks for reading 🙂
Thank you for writing, Kira! I needed this today. Fantastic article!
I’m glad it could help 🙂
Great tips! I’m glad your relationship with your brother has been mended. 🙂
Kira I am so proud of you. This article took some very deep thought and work. You are going to be a famous author I’m sure. Your article is great and very insightful. Love you
Thank you! It’s a lesson that has taken a long time to learn.
Excellent article, Kira! It is a blessing to read it.
Kira, this article came at just the right time for me. Currently struggling with my relationship with my mom. There’s been a lot of hurt I just haven’t dealt with for years and I don’t want to just leave it that way. Thanks for the part about viewing the other person as a real person and not just as an enemy. I have a hard time praying for my mom and this situation–actually praying for her and not just about her for my own benefit. ~A
I really needed this! Thanks!
Amazing article, Kira! Very well-written. It provoked quite a few questions in my mind and heart about my relationships.
By the way, can someone offer me some advice on this?:
How do you heal a broken relationship that occurred when one of the parties was being selfish, so you two drifted apart?
I’ve been trying to fix a broken relationship with my cousin for 2 months but no luck 😓