I was hurt by a friend recently.
In a way that felt unfair and unkind.
And in a way that makes it pretty clear that she has no interest in remaining friends anymore.
I feel like she failed me in a big way.
It’s painful, I must admit.
As much as I want to pull my shoulders back and raise my chin high and pretend like I’m untouchable and unhurt-able, nothing could be further from the truth.
I want to lash out and defend myself and maybe even erase all the investment I’ve made in her and in us over the past few years.
But really, that would be rather hypocritical of me.
Because guess what?
I’ve failed people, too.
It’s times like these that I intentionally recall to my mind four little words originally shared by a dear friend. Someone who knows well the unspeakable heartache people can wreak on each other. Someone who has endured such relationships with utmost grace and gentleness.
All because of four little words that I suspect will radically change your perspective about relationships.
Even the hard ones.
And even the ones that are broken.
We’re all just people.
Will you stop and allow that soak in for a minute?
Let’s consider the loads of implications in these four little words.
Learning How to Handle Hard Relationships
1.) I fail people, too. We’re all just people includes me, and so I really have no right to that indignant-outraged-how-dare-they feeling that encroaches when I’ve been wronged. The hard truth is that I’ve failed people; sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally, and sometimes even unknowingly. I’m not above that person who has failed me. Because we’re all just people.
2.) I should lower my expectations. We’re all just people means that though Christ has redeemed us and made us into new creations, that sin nature that is weak and faulty and flawed (not to mention sinful and selfish and prideful) still rears its ugly head far more often than we’d like to admit. If we’re honest, we know that’s true for us; so we’re wise to expect that to be true for others, too. Imperfect people are not going to treat each other perfectly. We’re just not.
That’s even more important to remember in our relationships with unbelievers. Their sin nature is still alive and well, with no help from the Holy Spirit in their attitudes and mindset.
3.) I can overlook offenses. We’re all just people means I need to be that wise person the Bible commends who overlooks offenses (Proverbs 19:11). That means I can choose to not get my feelings hurt over small things. When my coworker greets the girl next to me without looking my way; when my husband forgets to complete a small task I’ve asked of him; when my four-year-old daughter asks if I have a baby in my belly (when I definitely do not); when I’m not chosen for the role I’m perfectly suited for (if I do say so myself)…I think you get the idea.
4.) I can assume the best. We’re all just people means I can choose to give people the benefit of the doubt. That I stop assigning negative motives to people’s actions, when I have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes. Let’s face it, sisters, we’re an analytical bunch. Which can be a good thing when we’re perceiving a need we can meet. But it can create mayhem in our relationships when we presume to know people’s motives.
Because guess what? So many times, there are much deeper issues going on. Issues that have nothing to do with us, but may affect someone’s view of us or her interactions with us. And that’s understandable. Because we’re all just people.
5.) I must apologize when I’m wrong. We’re all just people means I can apologize for the wrong that I have done. I can own it. Not in a proud kind of way that says it’s-just-the-way-I-am-so-deal-with-it. But in a humble kind of way that recognizes I just might carry some of the blame for tough relationships. Because we’re all just people.
6.) I can invite conversation. We’re all just people means I can invite dialogue about our differences and commonalities; our blunders and our boundaries; our hurts and our heartaches. I can stop giving the silent treatment and stop turning my nose up at the person who’s hurt me. I can choose to communicate like a Christ-filled adult instead of a bratty toddler or a passive-aggressive teenager.
7.) I will lavish grace. We’re all just people means I can grant grace freely, because it’s been granted to me freely. I can lavish grace bountifully, because it’s been lavished on me bountifully. I can impart grace undeservedly, because it’s been imparted to me undeservedly.
8.) I can leave the door open. We’re all just people means I can choose to leave the door open toward people who have closed the door on me. It means I don’t have to cut ties over petty squabbles and minor grievances just because they do. I can let them walk away on their terms, without growing cold or hard-hearted on my terms.
9.) I can let go. We’re all just people means I don’t have to desperately cling to the hope that someone will change her mind about me. I can acknowledge that while all people in my life are there for a reason, some people are only meant to be there for a season. I can recognize that even though I may miss a relationship with someone, cutting ties might just be the best thing for everyone involved.
10.) I can be at peace. We’re all just people means I can enjoy the serenity that comes from knowing that I’m living peaceably with all, as far as it depends on me. (Romans 12:18) Because that’s really all God expects of any of us. As much as it depends on me. I can do what I can, leave the rest in His hands, and be at peace.
Which tough relationship comes to your mind as you read this post? Will you take some time to pray over it right now, asking God to guide you in wisdom and grace? It’s my prayer that even your hardest relationships will be enriched by the perspective offered here.
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