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Today’s Truth

Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

(Proverbs 27:6)

Friend to Friend

We are born helpless. As soon as we are fully conscious, we discover loneliness. Because God created us to need each other, it is in relationships that much of who we are is realized and fashioned. Throughout Scripture, God repeatedly emphasizes the value and benefits of healthy relationships. However, to my way of thinking, life would be so much easier at times if no one needed us and we needed no one because, honestly, relationships are hard work, especially relationships with sandpaper people.

Difficult relationships and people who rub us the wrong way are often assigned permanent seats in our world and don’t always come with the option of escape. So we must make a choice. We can either learn to get along with people who rub us the wrong way or retreat into a substitute for the relationship God intended. Work fills the hours that should be spent learning to live together in peace. Children fill the void that a difficult spouse refuses to fill. Needs are unmet and desires are numbed in an effort to live peacefully with that sandpaper person.

Marriages are filled with conflict and turmoil because one or both marriage partners are sandpaper people.

Friendships splinter and workplace relationships disintegrate under the constant emotional fire of sandpaper people.

It is almost humorous – almost – that sandpaper people rarely see or accept the fact that they are the coarser of the two in any relationship. The abrasive people in life are masters at dodging blame and skirting responsibility for the emotional upheaval that follows them like their own shadow. One of the treasures found in a healthy relationship is the learned ability to give and take. Friendships are meant to teach us how to love and trust people on many different levels. The workplace is a laboratory for personality experiments and conflict management.

A thread of flexibility runs through the center of every healthy relationship, accepting those who grate on our nerves, accommodating their quirks and flaws. The problem is that sandpaper people avoid flexibility if at all possible, afraid that any change will exclude them, which is the very thing they fear most and the one thing their abrasive behavior always produces. The question then becomes, what part must we play in dealing with these difficult people? How can we come to the table of relationship health and walk away with a solution?

One of the basic needs of every healthy relationship is a willingness to confront. To confront someone is to meet them head-on in the quest for compromise. Confrontation is an emotional tackle for the purpose of resolving conflict while promoting peace. Just as God separates us from our sin, He calls us to do the same with sandpaper people. We must disconnect who they are from what they do, loving the sinner but hating the sin, looking beyond their weaknesses in search of their strengths.

Most people I know hate confrontation and will do anything to avoid it, but in doing so, give the impression that they are content with the status quo. It is important for us to understand that silence is agreement. Confrontation is a gift we bring to every healthy relationship as well as the unhealthy relationships with which we struggle. Confrontation is a spiritual surgery that tends to be painful. But without it, the cancer of contention and discord will remain unfettered, free to grow and spread its deadly relationship poison.

Let’s Pray

Father, I want every relationship in my life to honor and please You. Teach me how to love like You love. Help me learn how to confront with a pure heart and the right motives.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Life really is all about the people with whom you do life. Read the ABC’s of friendship below and make a plan to put each one into action this week.

  1. Allow people to get close. Friendship requires taking a risk. Read Proverbs 18:24 (NLT) “There are friends who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”
  2. Become a great friend. Which way do you run in times of trouble? Read Proverbs 17:17a (NIV) “A friend loves at all times …”
  3. Celebrate your friends. Who do you need to celebrate this week? How will you celebrate their friendship? Read Philippians 1:3 (NLT) “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.”

More from the Girlfriends

I truly believe God uses our relationships to illustrate characteristics of His nature – characteristics like love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Relationships are hard work and require the power of the Holy Spirit to be what God created them to be. Need help? Mary’s book, You Make Me So Angry, offers practical steps for building healthy relationships. And be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

5 Responses to “The Beauty of an Emotional Tackle Part 1”

  1. Jennifer says:

    I spent time in prayer this morning regarding how to deal with someone I am close to who I caught (unintentionally) in an ongoing lie. My heart hurts. I do not struggle with lying so it’s hard for me to understand why people lie about the dumbest things (that don’t really matter). Still it creates a trust issue if one is lying to another continually.
    Thank you for this devotion. It was needed.

  2. Barb says:

    My daughter is the biggest problem I have. She just thinks she can talk to me and treat me like one of her enemies. She does not respect me, she hates me. I don’t like her at all. She treats me like the live in maid and babysitter. I don’t want to live or be around her anymore but then my grandchildren will suffer because she is a single parent working 11-11 4/5 days a week. I have given the last 4 yrs to her, watching and taking care of her children. I just can’t do it anymore. I am physically, emotionally, mentally exhausted from having to deal with her and my 3 grandchildren. She promised help when she got this new job but no their father doesn’t and she refuses to ask her friends for help. I need a break from the abuse the way she talks to me and treats me is horrible. I need to find a place to live by January and get out of this situation. I have been praying for a place because I also have a dog and am a fixed income since I retired 4 yrs ago. I know the Lord will take care of me. I am praying she finds God again and also someone to help with her kids when she works.

  3. Penney says:

    Barb, I will keep in you in my prayers. I had to confront my adult son recently and it was one of the hardest things I had to do. I then had to set boundaries and you will have to do the same. Pray and ask God to give you the words and timing to speak to her and mean what you say and follow through. Speak to her in love and not hate and make it very clear what is needed for your sanity. No it is not fair for you to have to live this way and we teach people how to treat us. When I confronted my son, it did not go well and he ended up walking out on me but God gave me a peace that I had never felt before and He will do the same for you. It is better that you don’t do something that you don’t want to do because there is no fulfillment in it and I am quite sure that the children are feeling the effects of it. You can say no and you will probably be better for it. Resentment will eat you up and the devil loves every moment of it. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of the air. Just know who is behind her and speak to him. God has your back and satan is a defeated foe! Be strong in Lord and be blessed. My prayers are with you.

  4. Senny says:

    Hi Barb, I am so sorry about your daughter. My prayer is that God will lead you to a place to love her unconditionally. Remember, God’s love is much bigger than the heavens. The Lord is faithful to His children.

  5. Melissa says:

    I read this just as I got back to my desk after yet another incredibly frustrating conversation with my boss. Goodness did I need this! Just last week I compared him not to sandpaper but to a power grinder! His incompetence is dangerous and it is only by God’s grace that we haven’t been sued or worse. I am thankful for the many lessons our precious Jesus has taught me during my employment here. He teaches me lessons wherever I work, and He tends to put me in positions where I am in over my head so that I learn to rely on Him for not just daily needs, but sometimes minute or even second needs. He has always provided and given so much peace and grace! I just love Him for this! I have learned to confront someone who is my superior in a healthy way and even to have difficult conversations with upper management. I am a peacekeeper, and this has been difficult but I am thankful for the skill learned. I have also learned a more about patience and trusting God to provide and protect. However, I am very ready for him to close this door and open one somewhere else. My prayer today is for Him to finally allow me to find employment that is fulfilling that also allows me to be more present as a mother and wife. My dream (even though I know it is a very difficult job!) is to be a stay at home mother but finances will just now allow that. My God knows best… I pray He helps to me want what He wants and be at peace with His plan- either way. As my mom says, everything in this life is temporary… this is not our final home!

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