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Instructions Not Included

Prayer: Heavenly Father, when a relationship breaks, I’m not sure how to repair it. Show me your way and help me seek reconciliation, just as you sought reconciliation with me by sending your Son, Jesus. Help me love other people as you love me.


Relationships are like cars. We know how to drive cars, but what’s under the hood is a mystery to most of us when something goes wrong. Oh no… What’s that rattling sound?We have no clue. Repair—in cars or relationships—is not intuitive but a learned skill.

When it comes to fixing broken relationships, our initial moves are often the wrong moves.

We try to get others to see things our way. If they did, everything would be okay, right? We turn to the C4 Approach to Relationship Management. There are four components to this ill-advised strategy:





Unfortunately, these tactics are second nature. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re using them. For example, you may not be aware this is a controlling statement: “I’m sorry if I offended you.”

When you say this, you might think you’re being the better person. Look at me, apologizing and moving in your direction! But the other person hears, “You’re too easily offended.”

You haven’t really apologized; instead, you’ve insulted them. You may think you’ve said, “I’m sorry,” but here’s how it’s translated: “I’ve done my part. You should be fine now. Since you’re not fine, clearly something is wrong with you.”

When we use the four Cs, we’re trying to manage people and bend them toward our will. Whether or not we realize we’re utilizing the four Cs, the results are the same: Nothing gets resolved. We’re left wondering why these tools don’t draw us closer to the people around us.

When relationships are strained, we rehearse the story of how we’ve been wronged in our heads. We wait for the other person to make the first move toward patching things up. We wait and wait—sometimes until it’s too late.

Most of us weren’t taught how to reassemble a broken relationship, and most of us haven’t seen it modeled. Relationships don’t come with a manual. So, where do we start?

We can work and pray toward reconciliation, but that’s not the goal. That’s right—the goal is not reconciliation. It’s the aim, but we don’t possess all the parts to reassemble a broken relationship. We can’t control what another adult says or does. Approaching them with our agenda doesn’t help. (Think about it: Do you enjoy an agenda being set for you?) We can only control our part.

So, the goal is no regrets. It’s knowing we did everything we could. It’s knowing we opened the door and removed all unnecessary obstacles to reconciliation.


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