We’ve all experienced conflict and brokenness in our relationships. Sometimes it’s as simple as someone cutting you off in traffic. Other times, it’s wondering if your friendship will ever recover from a betrayal of trust. We look to Jesus as the ultimate example of reconciliation, and yet, it can be tricky to figure out how his example applies to our specific real-life experience when we are hurt or hurt others in our relationships. Our relationships won’t get the chance for reconciliation if we leave those hurts unaddressed. We can stay stuck in immature versions of these relationships or cut them off altogether. There are tons of ways to become healthier in our lives, but relational health and emotional intelligence can be harder to pin down or know if we are on the right track.
In this five-week study, we’ll take a look at relationships in the Bible that model conflicts we might be experiencing, and engage with sermons, podcasts, additional readings, and spiritual practices as we try to help heal those conflicts.
Jesus’ work on the cross was an act of reconciliation with all of humanity, so as we seek to walk with Jesus, we believe we are called to be agents of reconciliation in the world, too. Jesus’ prayer that the church be unified (John 17) as a witness to the world means that we have to take our relationships seriously! But we are all humans with limits and areas of brokenness- so taking our relationships seriously means learning how to take care of them within our limits. A large part of caring for our relationships is growing in our emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is basically being able to:
- Know what you’re feeling
- Assess your emotions
- Express your emotions without letting them control you
Many Christians have relied on connecting to God through their heads, and cognitively understanding God, or their hands, and concretely serving God. Emotional intelligence asks that we connect to God through our hearts, and see how God might be inviting us to a new reality through our emotions.
Emotions are tricky because our minds are complex, and we can’t always understand the ways they are responding to situations we find ourselves in. Yet, our emotions greatly impact our relationships with God and one another. It’s a work of discipleship to see these emotions more clearly, and allow them to be gifts that help us love God and our neighbors with our whole heart, soul, and mind.
Psychologists have identified four major responses our brains turn to when they run into conflict. They are:
- Fight: facing any perceived threat aggressively
- Flight: running away from the danger
- Freeze: being unable to move or act against a threat
- Fawn: immediately acting to try to please to avoid any conflict
During our study, you will be asked to listen to a sermon examining a conflict represented in the Bible, and then spend time reflecting on your response to different kinds of conflict and your emotions. Then, you’ll read or listen to an additional piece of information to better understand the drivers of these conflicts. Then with your group see if God is offering you any next steps. We pray that you would recognize God’s loving embrace of you, and God’s promise to never leave you or forsake you as you do this work towards growing in your relationships with God and others.
Set a foundational understanding for this series by completing the following: