Healing Broken Relationships

I went to a men’s breakfast at our church this past Saturday and a friend asked me a question that I didn’t really know how to answer – how can we heal and overcome the deep divisions that have been caused by opinions on the pandemic and the vaccines. I stumbled in trying to find an answer and eventually said that I didn’t really know. As I am no longer a pastor, I don’t have to know everything, and I can actually admit to my lack of knowledge. But I have been troubled by that question. It hasn’t left me alone. For that reason, I have decided to take a short break from the theological question of what is God like and move into this ethical question. I have some thoughts, but I am counting on you to help me out. Have you encountered any friendship or family breakdowns because of differing opinions on the twin problems of the pandemic and vaccines? How have you been able to heal those rifts? What are some things you have learned through these conflicts?

First some general thoughts. I had posted some thoughts on how we can accept people with whom we disagree. I used the pandemic as an illustration of the differing opinions we are encountering. How do engage with people whose opinions are almost diametrically opposed to the ones we hold? Too many of us see these conversations as contests to be won or lost and since my opinion is the correct one, I have to win. These are often conversations that create far more heat than light. Too often we no longer are able to hear each other, and we seem to rant and get angrier the longer the conversation goes on. I suggested that we actually listen to the other person no matter how deeply we disagree with them. Since we have twice as many ears as we have mouths, maybe we should listen at least twice as much as we speak. I seem to be agreeing with James here. James 1:19-20 (NIV) “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

First, for there to be reconciliation both parties must want it. If only one person desires reconciliation it will never occur. We can forgive whatever offences we feel we have suffered, but unless there is a mutual desire for reconciliation, it cannot occur. We have to be prepared to accept that some relationships will never be mended. Some friendships may be irrevocably lost.

Second, reconciliation must be approached with humility. I have to affirm, sometimes over and over that I might just be wrong. I need to deal with this question, “Which is more important, being right or preserving our friendship?”

Third, are there things for which I should apologize? Did I do things that made the situation worse? Do I need to ask forgiveness for either my actions or my attitudes?

Now I want to put the ball into your court – what advice would you give someone that is suffering because of fractures in relationships because of differences of opinion on either the pandemic or the vaccines? What have you done? Has it worked? I would like this to be the beginning of a conversation, so as you read the comments of others, I would like you to also respond. This is an extremely difficult topic, but in the meantime Keep the Son in Your Eyes.

4 thoughts on “Healing Broken Relationships

  1. Kay Olson

    Not sure if this will go through – as I seem to be doing something wrong on an almost weekly basis. Will try again – and this time on this topic. This has been a very difficult one for many of us. I feel very strongly toward vaccination – and I have at least six good friends who are very much against it. However, we have been able to remain friends. Respect is very important. I think we have agreed to respect each other’s opinions, and we try not to talk about it with each other. One of those friends (actually a married couple) also has very strong opinions that Putin is cleaning up the dirt and sins of the Ukraine – and that has been harder to swallow than the vaccination debate. However, we are still friends and we speak every few weeks on the telephone. I think love and respect are very important. These are things I can’t ever agree with them on – but I can leave it to them to believe the way they do.

  2. Wayne Land

    I find it difficult to accept the change to the meaning of the word vaccinate. At one time it meant to end a disease. Example. Polio, Small Pox. Tuberculosis to name a few. If you’re vaccinated against these diseases you won’t get them. With Covid19 the word vaccine is used but the end results are uncertain as it seems many have recurring incidents

    Since I’m an ignorant man I’ve simply asked medical people to please show me a 3-5 year double blind crossover study proving the efficacy of these experimental drugs and no one has. From my experience in days gone by in the pharmaceutical industry it could take upwards of 15 years or more for a vaccine to reach final approval. This alleged vaccine seems to be on an approval fast tract

    Now the alleged experimental vaccine seems to require many repeat dosages and in many cases appears to fail. I’m not so sure it has been sufficiently proven to be trusted.

  3. erinpatreyahoocom

    I agree that you have to let others have their opinion as you have yours, if you have facts to back up your argument you have a right and an obligation to let people know for their own safety. you however cannot controle how others will take it. Now you know how each of you feel an that subject. accept it, let it go and move on. You don’t have to let it destroy a relationship.I also know someone in the medical field that know about the process of discovery and trial and error in getting a new drug that is good approved for use, and how long that takes, needless to say he will not get the vaccine or boosters or anything else to do with the Covid shots.

  4. Deborah Miller

    I think it is important for all of us to focus on the topic at hand which is working at healing relationships, not the specifics of why a relationship has broken down in the first place. No matter what the topic, relationships can be broken from all manner of conflicts. These past two years have been tougher because of the pandemic for sure, but the steps to healing relationships remain the same with some conflicts a little harder to overcome than others. I love the James passage that was quoted in your blog, Len. And I am appreciative of the steps you outlined for healing. Thank you for reminding me to keep humble and not necessarily RIGHT. As Christians, we need to be especially conscious of trying to be good listeners and careful of our judgements of others. Vaccines or no vaccines, we all live in this world together and the more we actually work at getting along in spite of our differences, the better this world will be.


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