by Erin Bird

Let’s finish up our four-week series on “How to Reconcile Relationships.” We’ve been using Dr. Emerson Eggerich’s B.L.U.R. principle, which means so far we have talked about:

B – Believe in their Good Will
L – Lower Your Heart Rate
U – Understand to be Understood

That leaves us with the R – Repair the Damage with Something Positive.

It’s the Little Things that Count

If you’ve ever been in a disagreement with someone, it is very possible that you said or did something that hurt them. Despite what the children’s taunt says, words can hurt. Counselors make a living because of the past words hurled and actions unleashed upon their clients.

That’s why, to complete the reconciliation process, you need to do something positive for or to the other person. This isn’t about emotional bribery, but rather another step to let the other person know you care for them and the relationship is valuable to you.

I remember in our first year of marriage, LeAnn and I were having a “disagreement.” I have no recollection what the conflict was over, but I do remember it being our first big fight ever. My personality does not enjoy conflict, so my natural inclination in those stressful moments is to run, avoid, or minimize. And as much as I hate to admit it, on my worst days, I might say something cruel, trying to shut the other person down and make the conflict stop (sort of like a knock-out punch). So when my very intelligent wife was making her case, I remember wanting to run out the door or hurl hurtful words that would make it all stop. But not only did something in me hold me in place and keep me quiet, I felt like I needed to just go hug LeAnn.

And it worked. She melted into my arms. I reassured her I loved her and she said the same back. After that simple embrace, we were able to continue the conversation at a much lower volume with reduced heart rates.

I don’t tell the story to make me sound like the hero. (I genuinely believe it was God’s Spirit helping me, making Him the hero.) I tell the story because I’ve personally seen how you can repair the damage with something positive. A gentle touch, reassuring words, a simple gift, a sincere apology, or even a bit of appropriate humor can help the other person realize you still care for them and the relationship is going to survive this tumultuous moment or season.

Because He First Loved Us

After all, this is what Jesus did for our relationship with Him. He repaired our damaged relationship with God by doing something positive for us – dying on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. He showed His love for us by paying our cosmic penalty, doing what we could not do, so that our relationship with our Creator could be reconciled.

That’s why the Apostle John told his readers to “love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7) God showed His love for us first, not waiting for us to deserve it or earn it or showed we loved Him. Rather, he made the first step. And so because God loves us so extravagantly, we are to love those around us (1 John 4:19), following in His footsteps. Which means if God didn’t wait for us when He made the action to repair our damaged relationship with Him, then we should do the same in our strained relationships and take the first step to repair the damage with something positive.

Humorous Cautions

Above, I mentioned one way to “repair the damage” is to use humor. But let me make a few cautionsif you try to repair the damage with a joke:

#1. Never make your attempt to relieve the tension at the expense of the other person. In the heat of the moment, no one likes to be teased. If you are going to “tease” anyone, make fun of yourself.

#2. Avoid sarcasm. Some people find sarcasm funny, but when a relationship is strained, it doesn’t come across as caring, rather just the opposite.

#3. Try not to laugh when the other person is talking. This will make them feel like you aren’t taking them seriously, which will only damage the relationship further. You want them to know you care and value the relationship, so don’t laugh at them (unless they beat you to the “punch” and repair the damage with their own humor!)

A True Apology

Lastly, a very effective way to “repair the damage” is with a sincere apology. But for an apology to be truly accepted, you CAN’T…

  • …shift the blame – “I’m so sorry, but if you hadn’t _________ then I wouldn’t have…”
  • …tarnish the other person – “I’m so sorry, but it’s not like you haven’t done worse…”
  • …turn yourself into a victim – “I’m sorry I said that, but what you yelled at me really hurt…”
  • …minimize their feelings – “I’m sorry I hurt you, but what I said wasn’t really that bad…”
  • …make God on your side – “I’m sorry you feel that way, but after I praying about this I needed to say it…”

Instead, a true apology owns your mistakes, doesn’t use their mistakes as an excuse, and truly seeks to repair the relationship because you want what is best for them.

A B.L.U.R.ry Wrap-Up

So when you find a relationship in your life strained, remember to:

  • Believe in their Good Will (that they don’t have an intention to ruin your life)
  • Lower Your Heart Rate (by taking a deep breath before responding in anger)
  • Understand to be Understood (by really listening to them)
  • Repair the Damage with Something Positive (by letting them know you value the relationship)

These four simple things (which might be difficult to do!) can help reconcile your hurting relationships, whether with your spouse, a child, your parent, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, or whoever God has put in your life. As as you seek to love them like Jesus would love them, you just might see your relationships go deeper than ever before!