A friend of mine returns after a holiday visit with her in-laws. The relationship with her mother-in-law has been rough as a pot-hole-filled Minneapolis winter road from the start. Different interests, different expectations for the relationship, different cultures, different education…all of these are factors that leave these two both feeling like they are walking through a minefield whenever they are together.
They each go into time together armored up…wary. Over time, they have come to anticipate detonation rather than delight. The other becomes freeze-framed as a caricature of their worst self…
“She is so ____________”
“Why is she so sensitive about _________________”
“I always have to __________________.”
Whether an in-law, or colleague or friendship that has soured, most of us have a relationship like this in our lives. I do. And as I have been reflecting on my friend with the in-law, and me with a difficult friendship, this is where the Lord has led me.
Humility promotes healing.
To improve a strained relationship we need to remove our armor, examine our own failings, and offer two authentic words.