You’ve been seeing it for a number of years now – the prediction for millennials and younger. The warning that so much time spent on technological devices could cause damage to their social skills. So, the time has come to look at some anecdotal evidence:
Something happens on social media or in a texting dialogue, and a young person gets hurt. Rather than asking for clarification or an apology, she stews over it and fails to accomplish resolution.
Someone sends him a message, but since he wasn’t asked a question, he sees no point in responding.
She would like to sit down and thoroughly discuss some upcoming plans, but the new social norms dictate that she go with the flow, not ask too many questions, and keep her feelings out of it.
He can carry a lively and meaningful conversation about pop culture, but when asked by someone close to him which traits he would like in a future wife and how he might give his children a Biblical worldview, he feels extremely awkward and changes the subject.
She’s learned a lot through social media about how to keep and lose “friendships” in her life. Unfortunately, many of those lessons ignore the technique and benefits of challenging, deep conversations.
He did respond to the question she messaged to him, but it’s been so long since she asked it, she has to go back to the original text to see what he was talking about. Waiting several days to finish a discussion is deemed so acceptable these days that the possible consequences can be forgotten.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1. Look no further than to John, the Bible’s relational expert who taught the importance of meaningful conversation for the purposes of:
- Talking with others about what really matters in life (Jn. 1; 3:27-36; 5:31-47; 20:11-18)
- Understanding eternal needs, even if asking is intimidating and you need to talk about it in a very private setting (Jn. 3:1-21)
- Confessing sin to God and safe persons so that repentance and authentic relationship will follow (Jn. 4:1-42; 5:1-15)
- Learning how to pray, the most important communication of all (Jn. 4:46-53; 11:1-44; 17:1-26)
- Becoming a good listener, open and teachable, and speaking carefully in order to better hear (Jn. 6:22-40; 21:15-19)
- Applying meaningful words and explanations to thoughtful actions so that others feel secure and loved (Jn. 13:1-17; 19:25-27)
- Speaking wisely, gently, and humbly the words to others that God wants them to hear, when they need to hear them (1 Jn. 1:1-3)
- Living in the joy of having face-to-face, transparent conversations (2 John 12)
2. Motivated by the above: a) admit the areas of communication where you are personally weak b) study Scripture for lessons in the art of dialogue c) don’t let technology shape you into someone you don’t want to be and d) begin practicing a more considerate, thoughtful approach to interacting with others.
A word spoken in due season, how good it is! (Prov. 15:23)
So you’ve messed up and apologized. You only owe one apology per offense, right? Not necessarily. Yes, the person you wronged is commanded to be quick to forgive you, but some cases can be better resolved after multiple apologies. Likewise, several layers of apologies may be helpful to restore intimacy.
As a Christian, you are not condemned. So, if you’re feeling unsettled even after you’ve apologized, you’ll want to proceed prayerfully to know if the Lord is prompting a next-level apology…or to see if this idea is actually coming out of wrong reasons such as people-pleasing, co-dependency issues, false guilt, etc.
If someone is coming to your mind right now and you’re wondering if you need to apologize again (or maybe even apologize when you’re the one who is owed an apology), the following exercise can help guide you.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
*Is the Lord speaking to your situation through these apologetic scenarios?
“So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:23-24). There’s room here for the possibility that the one at the altar could extend a previous apology, yet it lack enough depth or sincerity for the brother to release the grievance.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone…if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…” (Mt. 18:15, 16). There’s room here for the possibility that a brother might only offer a half-apology and not agree when being asked for a more complete apology.
“…you were grieved into repenting…” (2 Cor. 7:9). There’s room here for the possibility that as they grieved, the repentant ones became increasingly sorry, maybe even apologizing once more. There’s also room here for the possibility that during the grieving period the offended can be struggling to forgive; but once a fresh apology is delivered, forgiveness comes easier.
*Does this basic truth resonate?
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). There’s room here for the possibility that an apology you previously gave – before you knew Christ – doesn’t feel sorrowful enough to you now, and you want to do it again.
*Do any of these foundational commands apply?
“You shall love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mk. 12:30). There’s room here for the possibility that the more of you that loves God, the more you’re able to hear Him telling you to do a better job apologizing.
“…be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). There’s room here for the possibility that with a renewed mind, you think differently about the situation and can apologize with a clearer perspective now.
“…continue to work out your own salvation…” (Phil. 2:12). There’s room here for the possibility that the more you live out your salvation, the more regretful you’ll feel about your sin towards another, leading you to a more deep and sincere level of apology.
*Still not sure?
“Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will exalt you…Carry out this act of grace…for the glory of the Lord…” (Jas. 4:10; 2 Cor. 8:19). There’s room here for the possibility that if you’re being led to offer someone another apology – and it’s coming from a humble place in your heart – then God is being glorified by you!
In the back of your mind, co-dependency is known to be a bad thing; but if you’re a parent with kids at home right now, you might be in a co-dependent relationship with one or more of your kids anyway. If you feel like you’re living your son’s or daughter’s life almost as much as s/he is, then you could fit in this category of co-dependency. Why is this happening? With the experiences, pressures, and influences the next generation faces today, some co-dependency might not be so black and white as days gone by; and a certain degree of co-dependency might not be so bad anymore.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
If your co-dependency looks like the first list below, it may have gotten out of hand, and you might need some help balancing out your relationships. However, if your co-dependency fits into the second list, you’ve probably just adjusted to parenting the kids of today, and can successfully make changes when necessary.
Co-dependency with your kids is not good if:
- it’s impacting other relationships
- it’s tearing down your self-worth
- you’re trying to control and manipulate
- you’re jealous and possessive
- you cannot manage anger
- you significantly fear abandonment
- you inappropriately act their age
- your actions fuel immature actions in your child
- you’re so addicted you can’t conceive of the relationship changing
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ…For each will have to bear his own load. (Gal. 1:10; 6:5)
Co-dependency with your kids might be okay if:
- it’s not significantly impacting your identity, other relationships, or quality of life
- it’s motivated by love and blessed by the Lord
- you know it’s temporary
- the relationship is producing positive results
- you’re willing to make a plan towards an eventual, interdependent version of the relationship
- you’re accountable to someone to 1) help you keep it from becoming problematic and 2) support you as you bring the co-dependency aspect to an end, when the timing is right
The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (1 Samuel 18:1)
Being married, especially if you have kids, comes with pressing demands and responsibilities. When discussing schedules and logistics, it can be a good opportunity to evaluate your prayer time to see if any change is desired. Consider where you might plot intercession if you and your spouse were looking at a prayer scale:
On one extreme of the continuum could be no spouse prayer time at all, not even saying grace together. Then, on the other end could be the example of ministry couple, Eric and Leslie Ludy who sometimes pull all-nighters of prayer together! But don’t be discouraged or intimidated if you and your spouse are much closer to the first end of the spectrum than the second.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
Check out Cindi McMenamin’s article, “Why is it so Hard to Pray with my Spouse” (found here). She lists some common dilemmas to praying together, which are very validating and accepting of where you might be with regards to prayer. Then, she offers some fresh, realistic solutions that can definitely help you see that praying as a couple doesn’t have to be overwhelming or unrealistic. In fact, her suggestions are quite motivating no matter what your prayer experiences have been. The Enemy wants to make husbands and wives think praying together is unnecessary, too hard, or too awkward. But you can allow the Lord to use this article to move you to a simple and powerful place with prayer – and you will feel closer to one another as well.
If it becomes right for you and your spouse, you don’t have to make McMenamin’s ideas your end goal. When you’re ready, you can check out Eric & Leslie Ludy’s book, “Wrestling Prayer, A Passionate Communion with God” and ask the Lord to unite your hearts for this kind of prayer life in your marriage.
Even a few new efforts can be far-reaching. Paul talks about two chief activities of a married couple: sex and prayer (1 Cor. 7:5). When you’re teaching the young people in your life that waiting for marriage makes sex great, also give them a vision for a future marriage that makes prayer great!
It’s not hidden somewhere in the details of Numbers or in the symbols of Revelation. No, right in the midst of one of the most read books and passages of the bible you will find Paul speaking to an issue very pertinent to women. And while you may not find it to be nearly as familiar as the rest of Philippians, it’s just as significant.
“I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel…whose names are in the book of life.” (Phil. 4:2-3)
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
Notice how Paul messages each woman separately as if to say it doesn’t matter if one of them is more at fault, they are both equally responsible to agree. If you are in a conflict situation right now, it may be time to let go of who did what, and lead the way towards agreement. One idea is to start by praying for her; it will soften your heart.
Paul did not end that first sentence with the word “agree.” Rather, this agreement is to be done “in the Lord.” Maybe you will never see eye-to-eye with some of the women you do life with, but when you both believe in the Lord, you can dwell on the truths you do agree upon.
Paul specifies the gender of Euodia and Syntych, not because their names are unusual, but because the Lord specially created females. As nurturers and encouragers, women bring unique and needed qualities to creation. He knows their contribution is best in the presence of love and harmony.
Thankfully, Paul does not leave these two women alone in all their emotions to try to work to a logical solution. He knows that by asking a male companion to step in, he can bring a calm, steady strength to an especially intense disagreement. It can be most beautiful to have a godly man help a mother-daughter duo or female friends reconcile. Try it and be amazed. (Reasonable, objective, godly counsel can achieve the same purposes, if a man is not available in some cases.)
Euodia and Syntyche were in ministry together spreading the gospel. Their story is for many women in church ministry in need of peaceful cooperation. And even if you aren’t struggling with any women in the church today, keep this Biblical example in the back of your mind for any future delicate interpersonal events.
Your name is in the book of life along with many other women, even some you may not enjoy. It’s so easy to get caught up in the seen things, but in your interactions with your sisters, it is important to remember that the unseen is all that stands. (2 Cor. 4:18).
Do you know anyone who has experienced trauma at some point – such as having been abused or shamed as a child, utterly rejected by a loved one, or faced extreme trials or loss? And if all is well now, you may be wondering why such intense emotionality remains.
Read in her own words how someone with past trauma describes how it still impacts her decades later:
“People with trauma in their background need to allow time in their schedule to cry-out to the Lord. There is a deep part of oneself that cannot be explained except to say it needs permission and validation for sobbing over the heart’s pain, and has a need for comfort and continued healing. I don’t do it every day; there is a season for more or less of it. But for me, I can have a much more balanced life emotionally when I allow myself this time of crying-out. Otherwise, everything builds up and becomes an emotional explosion.”
Now that you understand better the lingering presence of emotion and trauma, how can you continue to provide support?
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
Invite your traumatized friend to use the Bible as a security blanket. If it gets all torn up, offer to have it rebound.
Don’t try to fix every feeling with logic. It doesn’t have to make sense to you when and why some of the scars open back up. Just be there with gentle, patient bandaging when they do.
Pray Scripture over your loved one. The Word gives endurance. (2 Tim. 2:9b-10a)
Don’t underestimate the power of your friendship. The Lord does some of His most significant healing through safe, secure relationships.
Have acceptance for the small habits the formerly abused person has held onto. Those coping behaviors are precious because at one time they meant survival.
When something triggers the pain of the past, point the victim to God’s sovereign purposes, goodness, and presence (Ps. 34:17-22), and together celebrate your loved one’s ability to overcome.
Have lifelong kindness like David to Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 9). Someone who has greatly suffered is no different than someone who is crippled. Offer up a place of highest honor at your table and make it permanent.
Help your friend laugh hard and have fun with you. Being relaxed and playful helps regain what was lost. And you will be blessed by loving and serving others in this way.