By Lisa Copen
Have you felt a great divide in a relationship that could compare with the parting of the Red Sea? In the midst of trying to redefine who we are with chronic illness, we often encounter a torrent of remarks that are hurtful.
Sometimes, the “wounds from a friend can be trusted,” (Proverbs 27:6), because the remarks are made out of ignorance: “If you just prayed about it more, God would heal you.” It hurts, but we know they aren’t purposely trying to hurt us. You may even feel abandoned as friends and companions avoid you because of your wounds (Psalm 38:11).
Or perhaps you’ve felt that the comments from friends or family are outright abusive, and you leave with tears flowing down your cheeks, wondering what went wrong and how you can be so misunderstood.
Recently experiencing conversation that left me feeling deeply hurt, I delved into the Scriptures to discover how I could resolve it? preferably the relationship, but at least peace in Christ and forgiveness. Even when the circumstances feel unfair to us, we must be willing to open up our heart to learning how to grow in Christ through it.
These are the steps I’ve worked through to gain peace and understanding in challenging relationships.
 Acknowledge that God is allowing this circumstance to occur in your life.
Pray that He will reveal His purpose through this situation. Stop dwelling on the one you feel has wronged you. Yes, your feelings were hurt, but don’t dwell on them, repeating the conversation over and over in your head. This is not about you!
Romans 8:6 says, “Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life” (The Message). Read God’s Word, pray for discernment and wisdom in interpreting what you read, and ask God to be your strength. God is enough. You don’t need the other person to apologize in order to find peace, nor do you have to “get even” in order to have resolution. This is between the Lord and you.
As Renee Bondi mentioned in a past article, think about such things: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy,” (Philippians 4:8) Make lists! You’ll begin to feel better.
 Take a close look at your own actions, without comparing, “I wasn’t nearly as mean as my friend was!”
- Honestly ask yourself, “How could I have made the situation worse?
- How could my actions have been misinterpreted?
- What would I do differently if I could do it again?”
Galatians 6:4 says, “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else. . .”
Ever lay awake at night going over the conversation? God understands and says, “When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent,” (Psalm 4:4). Ask God for forgiveness. Ask Him to convict you of your wrongdoings so you can ask for forgiveness of the individuals and of the Lord.
 Do not seek revenge or act cruel to the person, despite how they may have hurt you.
It’s not in your hands, but in the Lord’s. The Bible tells us, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” (Romans 12:17, 19-21).
 Respond to the one who has hurt you with a peaceful, calm heart.
You will represent a God who gives mercy. Ironically, God doesn’t just let one off the hook; He creates a turmoil of emotions within the other person. When someone feels angry and guilty and you respond with kindness, it can feel like burning coals on their head, because they are dealing with shame over their own actions. Not fun!
 Acknowledge that you only have so much control over the situation and do your best to resolve it, responding with grace.
Those around us watch us to see how we—as believers?will respond to an unjustified attack. If we respond no differently than non-believers, how have we represented God?
Romans 12:18 says, “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” By choosing to do your best, as far as it depends on you, you are refusing to play the victim role, but rather taking initiative in using this as a growth opportunity.
When we choose the victim role of “Why are you doing this to me?” our spiritual growth becomes stagnant. Remember, “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” (Psalm 34:18). Don’t miss out on an unexpected blessing by turning away from God or seeking revenge because of your pain.
 Anger is a natural emotion, but do not sin in the heat of the moment.
Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin.” Remember, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs,” (Corinthians 13:4, 5).
A high standard to live up to but God tells us, “If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it,” (Genesis 4:7). Only with God’s help we can master our natural sinful nature and show love. It’s not easy but, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything,” (James 1:4).
 Be accountable to someone who can be objective and offer encouragement and advice.
“If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:10). A friend or mentor can keep you accountable to seeking God’s will and praying for resolution. “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness,” (Hebrews 3:12,13).
 Pray to forgive the one that hurt you.
Even if the one who has hurt you has moved on, passed away, or desires no relationship with you, ask for God to provide forgiveness in your own heart so you can let it go and have more intimacy with the Lord. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins,” (Matthew 6:14, 15).
Kind of blunt, isn’t it? God knows we need to forgive in order to be fully His. You can read more about why forgiveness is good for both your soul and your body.
 Pray for the one that hurt you—with compassion
.It may take time to get to this point, but “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress,” (1 Timothy 4:15). Ask the Lord to work in your friend’s life and to soften your heart towards him. Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
 Learn how to set healthy boundaries.
Proverbs 12:26 tells us that “a righteous man is cautious in friendship.” If you’ve been deeply hurt by someone, it may be time to set new boundaries, and these will likely be resented so be careful that when you do set boundaries: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen,” (Ephesians 4:29).
Use “I” language, “I will be able to come for one hour, but then I will have to leave,” “I love you but I won’t discuss the topic of ___ with you. Is there something else we can talk about?” “I appreciate you sharing your feelings with me, but I won’t be able to accommodate your requests.”
Regardless of the response you receive, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you,” (Ephesians 4:31, 32). As Robert Schuller says, “There are vast untapped resources of faith that can be discovered only in adversity.”
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and she lives in San Diego with her husband and son. She is gradually learning how to balance motherhood, family, illness, and ministry, but she still knows it will be a lifetime lesson. You can see the books she has written, including, Why Can’t I Make People Understand? at the Rest Ministries shop.