Preparing Our Hearts for Difficult Interactions

by GfG on December 22, 2014

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Holidays are the season for visits, visiting, and family & friends interactions.  Sometimes these interactions can be difficult.  Two years ago, I shared tips in a post A Plan for Being Around Difficult People. It’s a popular post and really has some helpful tips on how to help challenging relationships not be so much so.  With over 500 shares for the post, it definitely struck a nerve.

Give it a read here first and then move on to today’s post.

Ok… now that you’ve made a plan, let’s talk about how to prepare your heart for being around people who push your buttons or those whom you have painful baggage with in your life.

Difficult Interactions WEB

Ask God to reveal any log(s) in your own eye. It is prudent and biblical to walk in humility with our fellow man.  Confession is a big part of that, but we often need God to reveal the sin we don’t see. Logs in our own eyes not only hurt us, but the block our vision.  They are stumbling blocks in relationships, so we need them removed.  Humbling ourselves is key to our relationship with Christ and others.  This steps helps us remember that we may be someone’s difficult person.

Pray ahead of time.  I don’t mean, “Dear Lord, make so-and-s0 nicer to me!”  I mean, “Father, help me show love.  Soften my heart and give me opportunities to step past the pain and give grace.”  Yup, that might mean a lot of praying.  Do it anyway.

Forgive.  Ok, this may seem obvious, but it’s really important so I am saying it anyway.  We must forgive.  As Christians, it’s not optional.  It’s mandatory.  Still, when someone has hurt us over and over again through the years, bitterness can take root even if we don’t realize it.  This means we must pray, confess, and intentionally walk in forgiveness towards others.

A fantastic book, The Peace Maker, lays out what it really means to forgive.  Let’s think this through and then make it a part of how we interact with people.  Four promises of forgiveness:

  • I will not dwell on the incident.
  • I will not bring up the incident again and use it against you.
  • I will not talk to others about this incident.
  • I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.

Let love cover.  Often, we are quick to be offended by those who are offensive.  It seems natural, but Scripture tells us that we can allow grace to cover a multitude of sins.  Isn’t that amazing?  Sounds impossible, right?  Well, it is, if attempted in our own flesh.

When we have been hurt by someone repeatedly, our flesh is weak around that person.  So while we must always be in the Spirit to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, this is much much much more so when walking around prickly to us people.  We will have to breathe in and out the Spirit.  We will have to be so very much on our game to not be offended by little things and this means preparing ahead of time to do this.

Memorize I Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”. Say it over and over, “Through Christ I can let love cover!”  Practice doing so with others in your life before you get to the more challenging ones.

Don’t be prickly.  When we walk into a situation where we feel when have to be on the defense, we are often defensive.  Going along with “let love cover” is the mindset of not looking for every barb, attack, or hurtful commment.  Instead, we need to believe the best and walk with Christ in hope.  Not assuming the worst about comments, when they happen.  When we extend love instead of a defensive attitude, we can sow seeds of peace, kindness, and love.

Memorize and meditate on Scripture.  Hiding God’s Word in our heart is important to living a life of faith.  All counseling situations require homework involving memorizing verses.  It makes sense, right?  Well, to help us keep our heart and mind in the game, it would be prudent to work on memorizing relevant passages. This could involve writing them on note cards, on your bathroom mirror, or whatever works for you.

Some ideas would be verses on peace, kindness, humility, forgiveness, and grace.  To give you a jumping place, here are some verses we could put in our heart and mind:

Proverbs 22:11 “He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the King for his friend.”

Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

James 3:17 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Do you need to prepare your heart?  (and make a plan?) 

*Original image credit

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