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Forgiveness, Relationships

Our Response & Owning It

Growing up with parents who were mental heath professionals (aside from spending my life on the proverbial couch) I did learn a thing or two about communication and how we should respond. Throughout my entire life I have attended seminars, read books, watched videos, heard teachings…so on and so forth. All of those centered around communication. Amazingly – as with all of us – I don’t always get it right. 

That’s the thing…we can watch the videos, read the books, hear the teachings, attend the seminars. We can know how God tells us to be with each other. We can have the best intentions. We can KNOW…truly know how we SHOULD respond to each other when we communicate…and still miss the mark.

We as women – should show respect to our men/husbands.  Men should show love to their women/wives. As Eggerichs explains in his series Love & Respect – God instructs those two things specifically because they are not in our nature intuitively for each other. The woman is designed to love, but the respect – she is commanded to show. Men are all about respect, but loving their wives is what they were commanded. And yet, as Eggerichs details in his book and seminars – it is something that is still so hard for us to get right.

Biblically…the God wants us to treat others with love. To speak with love. To not be harsh. A couple of verses that highlight this:

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” ~ Ephesians 4:29 ESV

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” ~ Proverbs 15:4 ESV

“For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;” ~ 1 Peter 3:10 ESV


Why?  So, why when we know exactly how we should communicate – we get it wrong so many times?

Because we are human. Because we are fallible. Because we’ve been wounded. Because we are afraid. Because we forget in the moment of emotion. Because we take offense.

I came across this verse tonight in my research for this post:

“But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” ~ James 3:8 ESV

And it’s right – no human can tame the tongue, but Christ can. We are made new creatures in Christ. But the realities of becoming a new creature in Christ are not overnight change. He is continually refining us. Burning away the unnecessary, the unkind, the sinful nature. And it is uncomfortable. It is scary. It is beautiful. It is freeing. When we die to ourselves, our desires, our will – when He becomes greater – our lives become richer. I know for myself – I am so thankful He is not finished with me yet. He won’t be until the day He takes me home.

I have had a number of situations in my life where what someone else would say or do something that would upset me. I wouldn’t respond in love. I would get frustrated, upset, angry. Sometimes I would do that verbally and they would take the brunt of my frustration – especially for me if they were not speaking in love. It was me – reacting to their behavior. However; as I have heard many times before – I may think I am reacting that way because of the other person…that they are causing it…that they are the problem – but truly – I ALONE – am responsible for how I respond. No one can make me feel or react a certain way. It’s my feeling, my reaction…thus, my responsibility .

I took a 6 weeks course about 2 years ago with Brain Coach Brad – he has a company called Lifetime Optimization and he works in the field of neuroscience. He does work in brainwave feedback, NLP (neuro linguistics programming), counseling, and much more. The six week course was very helpful for me – resetting some ways my brain thought about things based on triggers in my past. I tell you it’s a class I could go through every year for a refresher.  I even had a situation in this past year where I was having a difficulty with someone –  I had not even let the person know any of the difficulty I was having, but those feelings would invade my mind, my space, my life. Those frustrations were consuming my mind and taking my joy. I had it in mind that I needed to “handle” the situation – I needed to talk to that person. But I wanted advice. So – back to my last blog post about relationship and seeking counsel – I called Brain Coach Brad for some advice.

I didn’t get the answer I wanted to hear. He asked me what was the outcome I wanted? He asked had I tried changing my reactions? Had I tried reframing their behavior by modifying MY response to it. Well…of course…no, I hadn’t. He was reminding me of information I had learned in his 6 week class. The other person was NOT responsible for how I was feeling, I was. So – I began to change how I was thinking about the situation. I began to change my responses…and miraculously – the situation improved. The other person began changing as well. It was such a powerful reminder to me of my control over my responses.

What about with those we love? Our family, our spouse/partner? In my experience, those relationship have the tendency to be the most heated at times. Because the emotion of love is so deep. Because fear can be paralyzing. Because all reason flies out the window when we take an offense. It is hard to be objective and rational when your emotions are so intertwined with the situation.

In my past relationships with significant others I have experienced a tremendous amount of hurt and pain and broken trust. Those themes have been repeated a number of times. What those experiences have done – as with everyone – is they have built walls and created what are now triggers for me, insecurities. Despite all I know about communication when a trigger is tripped – sometimes I don’t respond well. Sometimes I am able to step back and take some time, do my own assessment and realize this was from a trigger…here’s how I can respond differently…work through it…talk about it with the other person. I know that those triggers are not who I am – they are simply a part of that wall that needs to come down. Walls come down with work. With a chisel. Walls come down over time. Walls come down with kindness. Walls come down with love. Walls come down with support. Walls come down with God…and in their place healing. That healing allows for healthier relationships.

If your significant other or spouse – or even friend – overreacts to a situation – it is typically because that situation has triggered something much bigger in them. A wound. A fear. In those moments – you only have control over your response – remember that – as hard as it might be – and react with love. Take a moment if you need to. Pause. Measure your words. Try not to overreact yourself.

Here’s what often happens though – we react before we pause. And our reaction might very well exacerbate the situation even more. One trigger sets off another trigger. And things escalate. Here’s the reality. While we are responsible for our responses – and when we fail in that regard – amends need to be made. Reflection needs to happen. So what then? How do you protect and preserve the love, the relationship?

With humility. By dying to ourselves. By apologizing. By asking for forgiveness. By accepting the work you need to do on your own triggers – but knowing you are not alone. You have a spouse/partner to work through it with. You have a God that is greater than any hurt this world can inflict.

I admit – for many of us the humility, the dying to ourselves and the apologizing/forgiveness piece is so difficult. There’s a leadership conference I’ve attended a few times called Transformational Leadership – lead by Ford Taylor. This man is phenomenal – this course is life changing.  It’s one I would go through again in a heart beat. One thing he particularly addresses and uses both in business and in his family/personal life – is the 6 step apology. This is a powerful and relationship changing way to handle apology/forgiveness.

Step 1:

Acknowledge the offense: “I did _____.”

Step 2:

Admit, “I was wrong.”

Step 3:

Use the words, “I am sorry; I apologize.”

Step 4:

Ask, “Will you (when you can) forgive me?”

Step 5:

Say, “I give you permission to hold me accountable.”

Step 6: (and this one can be a doozy –  but it is so powerful – and harder than the other steps)

Is there anything else I need to apologize for?


Keep God, love, and forgiveness at the core of your relationships and you will find greater peace and harmony. I know this is a daily effort and choice. One I continue to make and always strive to improve.



Originally posted 2014-06-04 23:17:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter


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