Forgiving Others: Taking a Relationship Inventory

Talk about it:

Although depression feels like a shameful thing, it is very helpful when you are depressed is be transparent with others and share the fact that you are struggling. Sometimes, just having another person listen to what is going on inside of you helps to lighten the load. There is nothing that can be gained by pretending everything is OK — when it’s not. Other people provide support, encouragement, insight — and may have be further along in their own journey so that they can share how they made it through. And, if you are depressed enough to hurt yourself or think about it, or you are depressed because you are being abused in a relationship, you need to seek the help of someone else immediately.

However, when our depression is caused by anger about a relationship or a hurt caused by another person (that is not abuse), we need to be careful with this sharing. Most articles in the secular arena will recommend talking it out with a friend and hashing out all the sordid details. However, while it may sound un-Christian to some because we are taught to share in others’ suffering, sometimes talking about a relationship problem will only make our situation worse and deepen our depression.

Sharing with a pastor or a counselor in a confidential setting is one thing; sharing in our prayer time with God is one thing; but sharing all of the downfalls of our husband with a close friend or family member is another thing.

Here’s the scenario: Maybe we are upset at another person and it has us feeling really down, so we run immediately to a friend to un-burden, spilling all the details. This may in turn further root the resentment deeper inside of us. By repeating the offense to another person instead of going to God and un-burdening ourselves, we may feel a sense of relief for a moment, but in actuality, simply repeating the scenario will only serve to add to our depression in the long-term. Constantly meditating and talking about the grudges we have will only serve to make us more angry.

Take a relationship inventory:

If we are Christians, God has given us His Spirit inside of us to direct and counsel us. That means that He can help us to know the source of our depression better than anyone else. Sometimes we may not even know that our depression is caused by a relationship issue.

We need to take a relationship inventory and do this on a regular basis. Unfortunately, relationships need constant maintenance — and I have found that asking God to search me during my quiet time helps me to get in touch with how I am doing in my relationships. As I experienced as a young person, sometimes depression can be a result of internalized anger against someone else. By letting that go and entrusting that situation into God’s care, we can be free of the burden that plagues us when we constantly obsess and revisit the wrongs the other person has done to us.

We do this by telling God everything we feel, saying, “God, I am sorry I have held a grudge against [insert person’s name]. I forgive [insert person’s name] for the wrong they have done me. [List the wrong]. Help me to forgive [insert person’s name] and let this go.” And if we have interactions with this person on a regular basis, we may have to repeat this process again as Satan is always trying to help us remember how we have been wronged.

Forgiveness doesn’t require us to go to the other person and tell them that we forgive them; however, this may be the next step for us if we have acted in wrong ways in our anger. God will help us to know when this step is necessary.

Carol Whitaker

Carol Whitaker is a coach's wife, mom, writer, and singer. She left a career in teaching in 2011 to pursue a different path at God's prompting. While she thought that the path would lead straight to music ministry, God had different plans -- and Carol found herself in a crisis of spirituality and identity. Out of that place, Carol began writing about the lessons God was teaching her in her desert place and how God was teaching her what it meant to be healed from a painful past and find her identity in Him rather than a title, a relationship, a career, or a ministry. These days, Carol spends her time shuttling her little ones back and forth from school, supporting her coach-husband on the sidelines, and writing posts. Carol also continues to love music and hopes to pick up piano playing again. Carol is a self-proclaimed blog junkie and iced-coffee lover. She resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.

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