Our life is made up of relationships. Some that will empower us and some that will drag us down. Living with people is hard and conflict is inevitable. The truth is we are bound to hurt people and people are bound to hurt us. We are imperfect people. We cannot really avoid conflict nor can we expect to have perfect relationships. But we can choose to learn and grow from our past mistakes and become better people.
We all have come across someone who has hurt us in life. The question is why do they behave the way they do?
How people treat others depends on how they see themselves. If they do not have a healthy opinion of themselves, they may treat others with a skewed perception. Insecurities, unreasonable expectations, fear and past bad experiences can make people react negatively in certain situations leading to conflict.
How should we respond when we’re hurt?
Acknowledge your feelings: This is harder than it sounds. Living in denial or minimizing your problem is only fooling yourself. It’s natural to feel bad when someone offends you. You should not feel ashamed about it.
Show compassion: Everyone who opposes you is not your enemy. Asking simple questions like ‘What made you think such a thing?’ or ‘Why do you feel that way?’ can make us understand where the other person is coming from and why they behaved in such a way.
Difficult people don’t know they are “difficult”.
Pray for healing: When we are wounded, our impulse is to attack. It’s difficult to be level-headed and calm in such situations. Unaddressed pain and anger can be a breeding ground for bitterness. Sometimes it takes years to heal but we should always strive to overcome our hurt and not let it control us.
The person who hurt you is not really your enemy: The Bible says our enemy is the devil, not people. When we realize this it changes our perspective and we can find out the real issue.
Pray: Jesus says to pray for those who persecute you. This is a very hard thing to do especially if you resent the person. Only when we are motivated by love we can genuinely pray for the other person’s well-being.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Matthew 5:44 NIV
Speak the truth in love: While we may be tempted to answer harshly or sarcastically or otherwise sweep things under the rug, such reactions do not do us any good. But what should we say in such a situation? Pray about what you should say or ask for guidance from a trusted friend.
So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.
Luke 17:3 NIV
Forgive them: Forgiveness is nobody’s favourite word. It’s hard to forgive, especially big offenses. When you’re not able to forgive easily, you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Forgiveness is not a one-step thing. It takes time to heal. Ask God to help you overcome the trauma you’ve gone through.
Forgiveness is letting go of the expectation that somebody owes something to you.
Do not write-off people: When some people realize they made a mistake, they change. It’s wrong to assume that people never change. However, if someone is repeatedly taking advantage of you, reconciliation is not the answer. Be honest with them about why their behaviour offended you and why you feel it’s best to part ways instead of cutting contact abruptly. Knowing when to reconcile and when not to requires discretion. Pray for the discretion to make the right decision.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Matthew 18:15-17 NIV
Do not take revenge: Revenge will not get you closure. Surrender your problem to God and he will fight for you.
And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.
Luke 18:7-8 NIV
We all want good relationships. But it takes time and effort. Praying everyday for the people in your life is the best thing you can do to have healthier relationships.