I’m scanning my life and the people I love and I see so much pain. People hurt people. People can be thoughtless. People can be unkind. People can be bullies. People, in their own pain, sometimes can’t help themselves and pour hurt upon hurt on the people in their life, even the ones they love.

I can think of – ohmygosh, I don’t know – a dozen people maybe who I am not okay with. Who I have either had to put distance because of the pain they’ve caused me or who have put distance with me because of the pain I’ve caused them.

And by far I’m not the only one. I cannot think of even one person in my life who doesn’t have at least one completely broken or at least strained relationship, at least one person they feel super awkward around or wish weren’t in their lives anymore. Everyone has at least one.

We all just keep hurting each other. And here’s the saddest part – even when we’re trying not to. We’re human. We’re sinful. Life is messy. There is evil in the world.

But there is also beauty. And hope. And light that breaks through the darkness.

Scripture talks about whether we consider ourselves to be the victim or the perpetrator in a situation, if we are aware that there is a rift, we must try to repair it.

I suggest these steps, knowing that they are not easy and that when I have done them, it has been messy and I haven’t always done this well, but knowing it’s the right thing to do.

Pray. Ask the Spirit to soften your heart to the person who has hurt you or you have hurt. Ask the Spirit to give you the other person’s perspective. Ask the Spirit to soften the other person’s heart to you. Ask the Spirit to forgive you and ask the Spirit to help you forgive. And ask the Spirit what your next steps should be.

Gently approach. The ideal would be in person, but sometimes that isn’t feasible. So, then, write a letter. The gentlest letter. Own your part. Sincerely. Apologize for any and all harm you’ve done, specifically.  Then ask for forgiveness. (Perhaps have a trusted friend read it first and give gentle feedback.)

Move forward.  If you have searched your heart and if you have genuinely made an attempt at sincere amends, you have done your part. You have cleaned up your side of the street.  There is nothing more for you to do.

You cannot control how the other person responds, or whether the other person responds at all. The ideal would be that this person will come to you and a conversation may begin. But we don’t know if that will happen.  We cannot make someone love us, forgive us, treat us well or even speak to us. You can only control your own heart, your own mind, your own words, your own actions. And you will know that you tried.

So, live your life. Grieve, of course, if you must…if the relationship truly is over.  Grieve your expectations. Grieve your loss.  And then live your life. Live your life by pouring into the other people in your life who want you in their lives.  It’s called living amends. When the person won’t accept your amends, you live as well as you can in every other area of your life and every other relationship. You are kind. You are respectful of boundaries. You serve. You act generously. You show mercy when asked forgiveness.  And you keep living.  In your pain, in the open-endedness, with the loose ends. Because what is our option?  You just keep living and praying and loving.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. –Ephesians 4:32