Jesus clearly defined God’s expectations for our relationships with Him and each other in the New Testament.
Obeying the Second Commandment
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
However, for some of us, our relationships aren’t quite as clear cut as we’d like them to be. Relationships can trigger every weakness and character flaw we have. Sometimes relationships seem irrecoverably broken.
And sometimes they are irrecoverably broken without Jesus.
In Gethsemane, Jesus “hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4), our self-inflicted pain and pain inflicted in relationships.
By seeking Jesus in our relationships, we invite Him to heal our griefs and sorrows, even if those who hurt us don’t change. He can bring peace and even heal broken hearts and minds. But if both parties are willing to change or shift, then Jesus works amazing miracles for everyone in the relationship.
Healing an Irrevocable Breach
Here’s a life experience that taught me how Jesus can work miracles in relationships.
For several years of my childhood, my dad farmed alfalfa and cotton outside of the tiny town of San Simon, Arizona. When I was 5, I got one of the two most memorable horse rides of my life.
My dad invited me to check the irrigation with him on horseback. He swung himself into the saddle, then reached for my outstretched arms and lifted me up to share the saddle with him. Sometimes I rode behind the saddle, holding on to his waist. But that day I got the front seat.
We rode through the fields, stopping to check whatever Dad needed to check. Suddenly, we heard a menacing rattlesnake rattle and saw the snake coiled for action. Spooked by the rattlesnake, our horse immediately lunged forward.
I’d been spooked by the rattler, too. I reacted to the snake and the horse’s reaction by screaming my fear.
My screams exacerbated the horse’s terror. He galloped faster and faster.
I’d never galloped that fast on a horse before. I had an unstable seat bouncing in front of Dad, and the horse’s gait increased my terror. I screamed louder and louder, which increased the horse’s agitation.
You get it. The horse and I devolved into an eternal frenzied cycle absent of all rational thought. Had we been the only creatures involved, I’m sure we would have galloped and screamed uninterrupted to the tip of South America.
But, luckily, a rational creature did exist: my dad. He held the reins of his galloping horse with one hand and his screaming child in the other.
Above my clamor, I began to hear Dad’s voice reasoning with me. “Delisa, your screaming is scaring the horse. If you stop screaming, I can calm him down.”
I don’t know if I believed Dad or not, but apparently, I didn’t respond quickly. I soon felt Dad’s gigantic hand over my mouth. With my screams muffled, I felt a shift in the horse. I began trusting. I stopped screaming and clung to the saddle horn. Dad took the reins in both hands then and gently reined in the agitated animal to a calmer pace.
The Destructive Cyclical Relationship
The horse (whom I loved with all my heart, incidentally) and I became entangled in a self-interested struggle. We couldn’t see beyond the immediate moment and acted for our rightness, in our self-interest. Any ability to problem-solve and work together flew out the window at the first lunge and scream.
We perpetually triggered the fear and chaos in each other, even though we both ultimately wanted the same thing—peace and safety. We continued this destructive cycle even when the original danger was left far behind in the dust. Though frustrating, we both blindly participated in a course of action with a potential outcome as deadly as the rattlesnake’s bite.
The Repairer of the Breach
Dad had a different perspective and experience. He knew the immediate danger had passed. He saw the horse and me suffering recklessly and needlessly. He recognized our destructive course and its deadly potential outcome.
Using the means at hand and our tenuous willingness, he repaired our breach.
As I shifted, the horse shifted. We both could see an end to our destructive cycle. Even though we’d been at severe odds, we began to trust implicitly. As soon as I could sense a shift in the horse, I shifted.
In real life, we don’t always sense a shift in the other party. Yet we can trust absolutely in Jesus’s grace to achieve that shift in ourselves as we forgive others, pray for our enemies, work on our triggers and weaknesses, and leave our relationships in the hands of Jesus.