In the journey of life, one of the most painful experiences we may encounter is the estrangement from close relationships due to relational hurts or misunderstandings. This painful separation can leave us feeling lonely, confused, and questioning our faith.
However, as Christians, we have a unique opportunity to embrace growth and spiritual maturity even in the midst of estrangement.
These fiery furnaces in our lives have been allowed by God for purposes that most of us cannot possibly fathom. God develops our character and strengthens our faith as a result of the challenges we may face in our close personal relationships.
He certainly understands what is means to have a wedge created in a close relationship.
These painful seasons are not something we would ever sign up for.... but, if God allows it, we can rest assured that there are some things we can learn from it, as we lean into God and trust Him.
As we navigate through our challenging relationship seasons, we may be able to gain needed insight into important areas of spiritual growth. This understanding will likely come in the midst of our circumstances more so than in spite of them.
In situations like this, it can be really easy to judge the other person and their motives. My grandmother would often comment on situations like this by saying, "Before you judge a person, make sure you have first walked a mile in their shoes".
Very wise advice. I, for one, have had to learn this the hard way, at times. My hurt feelings can often cause me to lose sight of owning my part in the situation. I am thankful to know that God can still use my mess-ups to grow me up and to give me greater understanding.
He has set a great model on offering grace, as well!
Developing the needed growth and maturity to work through our own personal emotions during these seasons will require us to be aware that God wants us to be willing to allow Him to do the needed work in our hearts, even as we are praying that He will work in the hearts of those we are missing and longing to reconnect with again, at some point.
Waiting on God in the midst of painful situations in our close relationships is no different than having to work through any other areas of growth we will need to navigate these unchartered waters.
Finding the support and encouragment we need throughout the process is critical for us to function in light of the loss or estrangement of significant relationshps.
God wastes nothing. Not even our most painful seasons. All that is happening in our lives is preparation for the work He wants to do in us so that He can, at some point, do a healing work through us to others who are in similar situations.
Our struggles are temporary assignments that can shape our character more into the image of Christ. The choice is ours to either become better or bitter in the midst of them.
Let's explore how our faith can help us navigate this challenging season and find redemption through mature love and forgiveness:
1. We can Learn by Practice to Surrender to God's Plan:
Understanding that God's plan for our lives is greater than any human relationship, is the foundation on which we can start building our journey towards maturity. Accepting that our circumstances are part of His divine plan helps us surrender our pain and longing for reconciliation into His hands. Surrender can be so challenging because, in essence, we are giving up the 'perceived' control that we only 'thought' we had. When we relinquish control and trust God's timing, we can be assured that He will work all things together for our ultimate good. (Romans 8:28).
2. Seek Comfort through Scripture:
During times of estrangement, finding solace in God's Word becomes essential. A deep dive into Scripture helps to remind us of God's unchanging love and promises. Reflecting on passages such as Psalms, where many times David would cry out to God in anguish during troubled times, can bring us calm and comfort. Allowing God's truth to fill our hearts can bring healing and the patience we need to wait on Him and His timing. God can comfort our hearts and bring much needed peace even in the midst of our darkest days. And the beautiful thing is that He can use these difficulties to bring enlightenment to others as they observe how we are learning to cast all of our cares on the One who cares so deeply for us and for those we love.
3. Embrace Self-Reflection and Growth:
Estrangement gives us an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. Take this time to evaluate your actions, emotions, and attitudes. Seek God's guidance to uncover any areas of your own life that may have contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. By using this opportunity to grow in grace, empathy, and humility, we can allow Christ to refine our character. I especially like the request made of the Lord in Psalm 139:23-24, "Search me, God, and know my heart; put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way".
4. Cultivate Forgiveness and Grace:
Forgiveness and grace are pillars of our Christian faith. As difficult as it may be, forgiveness releases the heavy burden of bitterness and resentment. Remember, forgiveness does not always equate to a quick reconciliation, but it frees us to love and heal from within. Forgiveness is the only path to true healing and freedom from the hurt. Choosing to extend grace, just as God extends His grace to us, allows us to release any expectations, judgments, or desire for vindication.
5. Surround Yourself with a Supportive Community:
In times of estrangement, it is crucial to surround ourselves with a supportive community of believers. Seek out like-minded individuals who can provide encouragement, prayer, and biblical guidance. Share your journey with trusted friends or join a support group where you can find understanding and solace in the shared experiences of others.
While the pain of estrangement from close family relationships may feel insurmountable, as followers of Christ, we have the opportunity to journey toward maturity, redemption, and healing. Through surrender, seeking solace in Scripture, self-reflection, forgiveness, and building a supportive community, we can grow closer to God and emerge stronger.
Remember, our ultimate goal is to reflect the love and character of Christ in all situations, trusting that God's plan is working for our good. Let us press on in faith, knowing that He will guide us every step of the way.
Until next time....
Sheri Geyer is a Relationship Coach for Christian Women*
*And women seeking to learn more about a relationship with Jesus Christ!
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