There is something about the death of someone you know that makes you re-evaluate life, your relationships, and where you place your priorities.
This past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about keeping short accounts with people. This is something my husband and I have implemented in our relationship. It helps us to deal with issues when they are small, so they do not get out of control.
Have you ever had a relationship you know is strained, but you can’t even remember what set it off in that direction? One little hurt has festered to the point where if the person so much as looks at you cross-eyed, you want to come unglued. One small issue has built on top of another until you’ve got a teetering tower of destruction.
This is what we try to avoid in our marriage.
Do we always get it right? Yes, we are perfect!
Okay, not even close!
We are constantly asking for forgiveness, while attempting to keep our pride in check. Once we have dealt with an issue, we let go of the problem and move on. Not to say there aren’t at times consequences to our words or actions, but we choose not to hold on to the bitterness or anger. We choose not to bring up the past and throw the issue in the other person’s face. By doing this, we create a safe environment within our marriage.
However, sometimes this is much more difficult outside of a marriage. For me, I know my husband will love me unconditionally. I know how he will react when I bring up a problem to him. I can most of the time predict his response and know we will move forward. I know he will not use my sins against me or bring them up five years later.
When there are grievances with others, this is not always the case. I know I have made my fair share of mistakes, wronged many people in life and I have not always kept short accounts. I have wrongly held onto anger and bitterness, and gotten into situations where I don’t even know what I am fighting about with someone. But, this isn’t how God wants us to live.
So, here are 6 steps I try to take to keep short accounts:
- Pray for the person I am in a strained relationship with. Ask God to show me where I am wrong or where I am being selfish.
- Take steps to communicate with the person. If you have a current phone number, call the person – do your best not to work through issues via email or social media. The possibility of mis-reading information or tone is huge, which can cause confusion and most times even more conflict.
- Clarify the hurt. Use words like: “What I hear you saying…” or “It sounds like you feel hurt because…”
- Talk through the issue. Most of my conflict with others is because of one of three things – either I am being selfish, there were unmet expectations or there has been miscommunication.
- Ask for forgiveness for the role you played in the conflict. Forgiving someone does not mean you are giving them a free pass or that you believe what they have done is right. Forgiving someone enables you to let go of your desire to seek revenge.
- Let go of your anger, bitterness, or hurt and move on. This does not mean you have to re-engage immediately in the relationship. It means you are working towards restoring your heart and attitude towards this person. Sometimes trust is broken and it may take a long time to restore.