Relational Rollercoaster: Round & Round No More

Today we continued a series called “Relational Rollercoaster” at Gateway Church in Austin. Bruce Gilson shared at the South Campus, and I shared at the McNeil campus. We shared some of the following insights:

“What makes for a happy ending?

First of all the story has to draw us in so that we identify with the characters. Then every good story needs conflict. There has to be a challenge to overcome and an obstacle to get around or a question to answer. Finally, there needs to be resolution. The problem or the challenge must be resolved.

In our own relationships, do we have pain that is left unresolved?

No matter how far away from our pains and hurts we run, they will always comeback if they have never been healed. As a result we end up going round and round an unhealthy and vicious cycle.

In the book, Hold Me Tight, Sue Johnson says that the most important factor that keeps us stuck in our patterns relationally is past trauma. She defines trauma as this: ‘a wound that plunges us into fear and helplessness, that challenges all our assumptions of predictable control.’ I want to talk about how we can extend the best environment for healing from this trauma together.

The Bible compares the relationship between a husband and wife to the relationship we have with God. To reconnect with each other, we need to follow the same process necessary to reconnect with Him.

The path towards healing and out of this unhealthy cycle includes the following:

1. Be Honest. We need to acknowledge that we have made mistakes that have contributed towards our situation. We also need to acknowledge that we have pain, and that we need help. In Ezekiel 18: 20-38, the author uses a phrase over and over again that helps us. And the phrase is ‘turn away.’ He keeps repeating this phrase “turn away.”We need to acknowledge that we have made mistakes that have contributed towards our situation. We also need to acknowledge that we have pain, and that we need help. Rather than trying to forget our pain we need to be honest about our hurts to get off this roller coaster.

In our relationships with our spouse, we make a mistake when we think we need to fix things so we can connect. Instead, we need to re-connect so we can fix things. This same principle is true in our relationship with God.

2. Identify Your Fears. To fully explore the root and source of your past hurts you need to ask each other the question ‘What am I afraid of in our relationship?’
Tracing our fears helps us know the origin of our pain. Spend time working through this question and write down your answers. Then spend time trying to identify where these fears originate.

3. Acknowledge Your Needs. Fear and Longing are 2 sides of the same coin. So after you identify your fears then you have to ask yourself the question: What am I really wanting? What do I need from my spouse? What are my longings? When we feel like our needs are not being met that often activates our fears. By understanding our fears we can have more insight into what we need.

4. Seek Forgiveness. We don’t forgive trying to hold the other person hostage when in reality we are the ones stuck in that moment. ‘An unwillingness to forgive is like holding your own breath and hoping the other person suffocates.’ – Hank Fortener

Forgive those who have intentionally hurt you even if they haven’t asked for forgiveness. Forgive those who ask. Forgive those who didn’t mean to hurt us. We act as if we haven’t hurt others – as if our mistakes weren’t as bad or detrimental. When we fail to ask for forgiveness or give forgiveness, we rob ourselves of a happy ending. When we fail to forgive, we miss a depth of relationship we all desire.

5. Experience Healing. Every great marriage suffers setbacks and requires seasons to re-up. We need to humble ourselves before God and before our spouse. Allow God to love persons through us even if they don’t deserve it. ‘Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins’ (1 Peter 4:8).”

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