We offer counseling services and conflict resolution to individuals, families, couples and groups from a Christian perspective.
Understanding The Difference Between A Hard Heart And A Guarded Heart.
If you have been betrayed. Repeatedly lied to. Your spouse been unfaithful in your marriage, or broken your trust and your heart in a big way, this might help you to understand the difference between a hardened heart and a guarded heart.
Healing from relational betrayal is tough. It takes a lot of time and work. And, that’s just your part. Restoring broken trust in order to repair, restore and heal the relationship can take even longer and be even harder.
One of the biggest obstacles is the ability to discern the difference between someone who has a guarded heart, and one who has a hard heart.
Let’s look at the difference between someone who displays a hard heart and someone who has a guarded heart.
A person with a guarded heart wants God’s will for his/her life. He/She is teachable, humble and willing to learn. He/She also knows that it is their responsibility to steward their body, soul, and spirit. When repeatedly sinned against, we not only must work through the forgiveness piece, but also responsible to walk in the truth and not pretend the relationship is repaired if it’s not.
Extending forgiveness cancels the debt but it does not automatically repair the relationship, especially when there has been no evidence of genuine repentance. Actions always speak louder than words. We are called to love our enemy but that does not imply that we have close fellowship or trust our enemy. That is why they are considered our enemy.
On the other hand, a person with a hard heart is stubborn. He or she does not hear or listen to God or wise others. A hard-hearted person is proud and unrepentant. It is wise for a godly person to guard his or her heart when they are with someone who has a hard heart so that person does not have an undue influence on one’s mind or their emotions.
Let’s be more careful as we deal with difficult relationships and try to discern and be careful not to mislabel someone who has firm boundaries or does not automatically restore broken trust as hard-hearted. That is practicing wisdom and appropriate stewardship by guarding their heart, and that is a good thing.
It’s a common but true metaphor that life is a journey... A journey we take along the roads and seasons of growth, opportunities and experiences. These roads of life are rarely straight, flat and wide like a runway – at least not for very long!
“The way of life winds upwards for the wise.” Says Proverbs 15:24. On a winding road that leads up to a mountain peak, you can’t see very far ahead because the road bends and twists with steep and narrow paths. At times you need to stop for rest in order to regain the strength to continue. The road is for ‘the wise’ who understand that their life has a purpose that unfolds along the way. And the higher you go, the better your perspective! Remember - the view at the top is magnificent!
Again and again, an upward winding road follows the path of a river. Where there are roads there are rivers - with God’s purpose comes His provision.
Think about roads that lead upward to Heaven’s purpose and rivers that flow downwards with Heaven’s provision - new roads winding upwards, new rivers flowing downwards. Starting from this week, may you follow the roads of faith that always lead to rivers of blessings!
We have all heard the advice “forgive and forget” however, for many of us forgiving those who wrong us in one way or the other can be very difficult and many times, impossible. Reliving the thoughts of hurt and betrayal run deep in our minds and souls, we become powerless to control these painful feelings. Yet, it is possible to forgive, if you are willing to face every pain and recover and not demand “payment for the debt”.
Forgiveness is the act of pardoning an offender. An intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes change in feelings and attitudes regarding an offense, misdeed or betrayal; and letting go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, blaming, grudges and bitterness. In exchange, possessing an increased ability to wish the offender well. The nature of forgiveness is mustering up genuine compassion for those who have wronged us, instead of allowing anger toward them to eat away at us. To forgive is a divine attribute because forgiveness will change bitterness to love.
Religions which embrace forgiveness as a spiritual act do so to seek and pursue peace however forgiveness also has many health benefits including experiencing greater comfort, lowered levels of anxiety, depression, tense muscles, stress and a racing heart. When a person has not forgiven, seeing, hearing about or thinking about the offender can make them feel agitated, irritated or angry. When the body is continuously in this state, it can become chronic stress which has been reported to cause both physical, spiritual, and mental harm if not contained.
Learning to forgive is not easy – no matter how much you know about its potential benefits, forgiveness can still be a major struggle, and it is certainly something most people are able to do easily or in a short time. Forgiveness means that problems of the past no longer dictate our destinies, and we can focus on the future with God’s love in our hearts. Forgiveness will change bitterness to love. As we forgive we are also forgiven according to Luke 11:4. Jesus equated forgiveness with canceling a debt. —Matthew 18:23-35.
We forgive others when we let go of resentment and give up any claim to be compensated for the hurt or loss we have suffered. The Bible teaches that unselfish love is the basis for true forgiveness, since love “does not keep account of the injury.”—1 Corinthians 13:4, 5.
Have a forgiving week and stay tuned. Next week I will talk about what forgiveness is not…
Rejection, abuse, failure and mistakes can cause unforgiveness to self and others which leads to bitterness. We become bitter when we refuse to deal honestly with our hurt feelings and then allow matters to fester in our heart. Don't allow the memory of the past to block you! The growing sense of irritation spreads through our spirit like an infection. Bitterness is like preparing poison for someone else and then drink yourself but expect the other person to die. While it silently destroys our life, the person who hurt us may remain completely unaware of our hurt feelings. Be encouraged because God is using our past to develop and transform us and as a stepping stone to greater heights! We cannot change the past but we can do something with it. Forgiving is transferring the admission of injustices and wrongs from me to God to deal with.
“Faith is hope nurtured, Trust is hope expected, Dreaming is hope inspired, Wisdom is hope illuminated, Gratitude is hope expressed, Service is hope demonstrated, Community is hope connected, Intercession is hope activated, Prophecy is hope declared, Freedom is hope realized, Laughter is hope erupted, Peace is hope fulfilled, Joy is hope ignited.”
By Zella Smith
Conflict resolution is an important topic to address in both premarital counseling and in marital counseling. Research findings indicate that a marriage is less likely to last, if efficient conflict resolution methods are not implemented says John Gottman, one of the greatest contributors to the field of marriage and relationship research. So, it is important for couples to learn helpful methods for managing conflict, which is inevitable in every marriage relationship.
There is some evidence that effective conflict resolution is not only important for the couple, but may also be important for each individual, since ineffective conflict resolution is associated with increases in symptoms of depression.
All Marital problems are either: Solvable Problems or Perpetual Problems
There are two different types of conflicts and each conflict will fall into one of the above two categories - either Solvable or Perpetual. Unfortunately, 69% of marital problems are perpetual.
So since 69% of problems or conflicts fall into the perpetual category, the remaining 31% are solvable problems. Gottman’s approach to conflict resolution and problem solving involves determining which problems are perpetual and which are solvable, and solving the solvable.
A principle for making marriage work is: Solve the solvable problems by: 1.Avoiding harsh startups – this involves approaching a conflict with a gentle tone. 2. Using repair attempts correctly relates to a couple’s ability to decrease the tension associated with a disagreement and diffusing and escalating argument. 3. Avoid flooding is practiced when a couple senses that the argument is getting heated, so to preserve the marriage, it is important for them to take a break and calm themselves down before continuing to work through the conflict. 4. Learn to compromise. It is important for each spouse to be willing to accept influence from the other spouse. Sometimes this involves a compromise. This is consistent with what we read in the book of Romans 12:10, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” ESV
5. Increase tolerance - it is important for couples to accept one another as they are.
The four indicators of disaster in a marriage include: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Every marriage relationship should strive to avoid the above pitfalls. Until next time…solve the solvable conflicts!
Learning to Forgive
Even though we all know about its potential benefits, forgiveness can still be a major struggle, and it is certainly not something most people are able to do easily. Here are some suggestions to help you through the journey of forgiving:
1. Practice mindfulness by taking captive of the negative thoughts of a person you need to forgive.
2. Meditate and pray, focusing on forgiving the offender. You will notice a more positive and rational outlook on the issue.
3. Get help from a trusted family member, friend or spiritual leader to gain objectivity and insight about what is causing you the unforgiveness.
Forgiveness plays a big part in your mental well-being and is linked to your physical health.
If you are still struggling to forgive, consider seeking help from a mental-health professional, who can provide you with the practical tools you need to let go of the harmful past events that you really have no control over and begin to renew your mind and embrace a healthier, happier life that will positively impact others.
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