Wednesday, April 07, 2010

6 Prayer Steps to Healing Broken Relationships: The Painful Exercise of Building Community

This is Lenten Update 9:
Ok, so first of all, I know that Lent is past.
Here is the thing. During the final three weeks of Lent I got so distracted that praying the Office, Memorizing Scripture and abstaining from TV completely fell by the way-side.
First I spent a great deal of time for a week or more at the bedside of a dear friend and member of my congregation who was dying. Lots of long days and nights in the hospital with him and his family. It was a sad time to say the least, but an honor and a privilege to be included in such a intimate time with this man and his family. I did a lot of praying, but not the Office. I don't regret it one bit, although I'm still saddened by the loss of such a wonderful man. In these times caring for others had to take priority.
After that I had two weeks of flu-fighting and frankly, I couldn't be bothered with anything but sleeping and well.... other flu connected activities that I won't describe.

So I've decided to make my Lenten Disciplines my Easter Disciplines.

So two brief notes.
First, I ran across this beautiful post by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

In this post he speaks about how we react to our culture by wanting community, but then want it to come instantly and easily. But Community only comes through time and effort. I have experienced this personally and more profoundly as a pastor, as my church has a wonderful track record for welcoming the un-churched and the church-damaged, but still struggles with how to hold these folks long enough for them to develop the relationships they so earnestly seek. Building community can be messy and painful. We disappoint one another. So often I have witnessed folks new to the community of church distance themselves because of tension within the community.

How to rebuild fractured relationships?
1. accept that it is not something that you alone can do. In prayer you must trust that God can speak again to the chaos and create life.
2. Meditate on God's love for you. Otherwise the dialogue with the other will seem like competition or fighting. When we are firmly rooted in God's love for us, we can accept the criticism and pain of others as a gift.
3. Be silent. Don't respond. Don't form a defense or an argument. First, just listen. Perhaps the criticism is unfair or inaccurate. but that will only be clear after.
4. More prayer. Return in prayer to God's love and then ask God to reveal the wisdom of the other's words.
5. Pray for this other person. That God will allow you to see them as God sees them. That God will allow you to remain with them a moment in their pain, even if you haven't done anything to cause it, and it is being projected at you. Perhaps you didn't cause it, but your calm loving presence might be the gift God wants to give them to allow them to heal from this pain.
6. Keep up the holy conversation. express yourself truthfully. Listen carefully. Don't give up or give in and isolate yourself, but stay open. Read Phil 2 for a guide.


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