God's way as a lesson
Dialogue is not about one side shooting down the other or unloading their prejudices but about both sides talking and listening.
We are only Human and it can be very difficult to leave out what hurts us even if it will best serve the situation to do so.
Be honest and clear about making things right but be loving , merciful and compassionate about it.
God rejected the behaviour of Adam and Eve and punished their wrong doing but He never rejected them.
Mis-communication or broken relationship
The subject of communication probably surfaces most readily in our consciousness when we become aware that there has been mis-communication or broken relationship. In this article I am going to look at some lessons we can learn from God’s example of dealing with a broken relationship.
You may find it helpful to read Genesis 3 before going on.
Where are you?
We will look for lessons from verse 8. As if He didn’t know, God called out , “Where are you?” to Adam and Eve who were hiding among the trees in Eden (Genesis 3 v9). The relationship between them and God is broken following the fall, all is lost. But God is willing and able to deal with the situation. Here God has no fault in the broken state of the relationship but we must remember there may be times when we have contributed to problems we have to face, we may even be the main contributor. Only you know the situation you may have in mind but I pray that there will be something which will help you today.
Come ready to listen even if you already know the other persons point of view.
God knows all things, He knows sin has entered the world. The whole of creation is now tainted and yet he comes as if He knows nothing. “Where are you? Who told you?” God opens the conversation. Why? Firstly He wants to bring healing to that relationship again. So, secondly Adam and Eve need to confess openly what they have done and thirdly justice can be served—in this instance punishment needs to be given. Keep in mind this latter pair they are part of the process of the first aim—to restore the relationship.
Open a dialogue.
Whether in your situation you are a wrong do-er or an innocent party to the situation needs to be discussed openly by all parties. Dialogue is not about one side shooting down the other or unloading their prejudices but about both sides talking and listening. In our Bible passage God asks questions which will allow Adam and Eve to respond (v11).
Make sure you get the whole story.
God had a longer relationship with Adam than He did Eve. From a human point of view we may prefer to hear a story from a person we know best or trust most. But God has an equal relationship with all of His created people and it was important for everyone to have their say until the whole story is in the open.
Make sure the other person has had the opportunity to say all that they feel they want to.
God didn’t jump in before everyone had had their say. Adam blamed Eve but she too wanted to say something—to shift blame to the serpent. God allowed everyone to say what they had to say even if excuses were involved—and they were!
Understand the motives and feelings involved.
Motives and feelings are just as much a part of a story as the physical events. There may be a whole history of “I feel like this” and I just snapped today. Think about your own motives and feelings. Are they material to the situation? God must have been very hurt that Adam and Eve had broken their relationship with Him but He does not bring this into the way that He deals with them. We are only Human and it can be very difficult to leave out what hurts us even if it will best serve the situation to do so.
Never dismiss a person’s feelings.
Neither your feelings nor those of the other person/people involved in broken relationship can be dismissed. Try not to use phrases like, “That’s ridiculous,” or “don’t be silly,” when someone is speaking about how they feel. It may be your feelings which are being dismissed in such a fashion but try to stay calm and reply that it may not make sense but that is what you feel anyway.
It is very easy to blame someone else and not examine your role in a difficult situation. You may not have caused a situation but you have been involved. Is there anything you need to say sorry for? Something you said, did, thought?
Carefully consider what needs doing or saying.
In our Bible passage God is in authority in the garden and it is His place to move the situation forward. In your circumstance does agreement need to be sought about a way ahead? Can you suggest a way forward? Do you need to ask for someone else to make a suggestion which is fair?
Approach the reconciliation with a clear head though not heartlessly.
It may be that an apology will suffice in a situation. It may be that a punishment is required or restitution be made or all three. It may be that special circumstances be taken into consideration. Be honest and clear about making things right but be loving, merciful and compassionate about it.
Trust may take a while to rebuild.
God banished Adam and Eve from the garden and placed a guard at the entrance (v23-24) but He remained in relationship with them. In our situations things may take a while to get better but that is not a reason to allow a relationship to stay broken.
Indicate a way forward.
Gods words went beyond the confession and immediate punishment to life after. All the relationships would now be hard work but there was a future. It would be a struggle but there are consequences for our actions. In our lives we have to go on building relationships whilst carrying scars from the past.
God showed care and concern for Adam and Eve’s predicament by making good clothes for them (v21). He didn’t stop loving them nor did He stop showing that love for them even though He had no fault in the breakdown.
Never reject the person, just the behaviour or words which caused offence.
God rejected the behaviour of Adam and Eve and punished their wrong doing but He never rejected them. In most everyday situations and clashes this advise may be difficult but with care can help bring restoration. In the office or with children, at church or in a social setting, a continued friendly outlook can bring healing. But I can think of some situations where it may be necessary to remove yourself from someone’s presence because you are in danger. Do not put yourself at risk in order to try to put things right. Sometimes physical space is needed to allow for the best healing but you can remain caring enough to pray for God to change them and bring that healing. Look to Him for wisdom.
You would think we were all experts on communication because we all do it all the time. There are times when we get into difficulty by not thinking first or not considering others. Sometimes we get into habits of communicating badly and we don’t even realise it. Pray today that God will help you be a better communicator—especially of God’s love.
This article © Linda Faber 2006-2009.