Tag Archive | grief recovery

Healing From Pet Loss ~ Part 2

Experiencing a pet’s death can be very painful. It can also be painful to physically lose a pet through a divorce or if the pet wanders away.

When I talk to those who have experienced losing a much loved pet, they share how tough their experience has been. Some have been offered love, encouragement, and support, while others have not.

Perhaps, people are not quite sure what to say or do after a pet dies, because they’ve never lost a special pet. They just don’t “get it” or understand the heartache that transpires. They may have never experienced a close relationship with a pet…even if they have had a pet. 

People are also extremely busy these days. We live in a microwave society…everything is instant. And if something isn’t quick and easy, some people will choose to not get involved. Life seems to always be in one mode: fast forward.

Personally, until our recent puppy’s death, I never thought to call family or friends to see how they were doing during their grief after they experienced pet loss. I was clueless how painful losing a pet could be. I previously thought you cried for a few days and then carried on.

Boy, was I wrong.

But once you know better, you then are able to do better.

This blog post is Part 2 of a 4-part series on pet loss. After the death of our much loved and treasured pet’s death, my heart certainly goes out to anyone who has experienced losing a pet. To read our family’s story about the life and death of our son’s two-year old puppy, and our background with pets, check out Part 1 of this series on pet loss. 

We were very blessed to have support from our loved ones, which certainly has helped our grieving process. 

Others are not so lucky. Not everyone receives support…and, like me previously, not everyone knows what to say or do.

After talking to others who have been through pet loss, I want to offer some ideas of how to encourage those who have experienced a pet’s death – that way people can better know how to be there for their family and friends through their grief.

Anyone who reads this will have the ability to encourage their family and friends who have experienced a pets death…and it will mean so very much to them.

Disclaimer: Like I said in my first post about pet loss, I know by writing about pet loss, I run the risk of a non-pet lover rolling their eyes (I used to do the same, so no worries)…and I also may be criticized by those who are experiencing human loss. I’d like to assure my Grief Bites readers that I am not saying pet loss is worse than losing a human being. To some, it may be worse; to others it may not be. Each and every grief experience is unique and completely different – no two people will go through or experience grief in the exact same way. Whether it is a human being or a pet, this is an absolute truth every griever can agree on: The greater the investment, the greater the love — and the greater the love, the greater the grief. I sincerely hope this series on pet loss is a great comfort to anyone who is mourning – or who will be mourning – their much-loved pet, and it is my prayer these posts are not offensive to anyone in the grief community.❤️As with any grief experience, I look at it as an opportunity to share what I’m learning through my experiences, in hopes it can help encourage whoever needs it. I count it a privilege to help others through all grief and loss issues. 

Here are a few ideas of how to help a loved one through the death or loss of their pet.

How To Help & Encourage Someone Through Pet Loss~

•Seek to understand– Many people think of their pet(s) as family…their baby. They’re continually around them every second they’re home. They snuggle with them most nights, and many people’s pets even share the same bed with them. So when the pet dies, their presence is terribly missed. Since their home holds many memories of their pet, too, a person’s couch, bed, and every room in their house may feel empty. Memories are everywhere. When they get home, their pet is no longer there to greet them. It can be very tough the first few weeks or months.

•If the pet helped them through a tough time or a grief experience, the loss of the pet is going to be much more devastating- When a pet is “there” for their human during grief or loss, the pet and human develop a very strong bond. Some people may even become closer to their pets than their human relationships if the pet has helped them through grief. I know of a man whose grandchild was lost during the pregnancy. A few months later, when a new “grand-dog” entered the picture, he said his heart was greatly comforted every time he was around the new puppy. Sometimes, he’d puppy-sit for his daughter and take the dog fishing with him each weekend. The new dog truly helped him through that tough time. When a dog dies during or after a grief circumstance, please realize the pet’s death is profoundly sad to the pet owner.

•Call your family member or friend whose pet died and realize they’ll grieve for awhile due to triggers– Check up on them periodically. Just like all grief experiences, the grief comes in layers when someone loses a pet. There are ups and downs just like traditional grief. I cried horribly the first few weeks after my son’s puppy died. Then I seemed to be doing much better…until I was driving and saw the Starbucks where I used to get Pupuccinos for him. It brought all of the sadness back up. Grief, whether it’s a human loss or a pet loss, comes in waves…and you never know when a wave will hit you without warning.

Offer to bring your family member or friend dinner, or offer to take them out for coffee…and just be there to care- Not many people will offer compassion to those who have experienced a pet’s death. It’s not that they’re heartless…like I said, they may just not “get” how painful it can be. You can offer to bring coffee or dinner to your family or friends when they lose a pet. A few weeks after our puppy’s death, some of my friends lost their dog. To offer comfort some friends who just went through pet loss, I ordered and paid for dinner and had it delivered to them. I know how hard the first several days were after our dog’s death…I wanted to let them know that somebody cared. This special family was the first to offer to help us with our puppy when we first got him…they helped us so much. I know their hearts were heartbroken after their sweet dog’s death.

Actively show your condolences- Don’t only call or text your loved one, buy a card…send flowers…make a donation to a local shelter in memory/honor of their precious fur angel…offer to help them plant a memorial tree…if you have photos, make a mini scrapbook of the pet to give as a thoughtful gift. The ways to show you care are endless. As with any loss, take the time to actively care.

•When you do something kind, it will always be remembered- Right after we euthanized my son’s puppy, my mom and sister came to the vet. I didn’t even know they were coming, but it truly meant so much to me. As my son held his dog, right after putting him to sleep, I wanted to give him and his puppy some time alone. As I walked out of the room, it was a nice surprise to see my mom and sister..and so good to have a shoulder to cry on. I underestimated how tough the euthanasia would be on us. After the euthanasia, later that night, one of my nieces called to check on us and another niece brought a dog over to play with our other dogs, too. Our family received cards and phone calls as well. I will always be grateful to those who actively cared by showing up and those who offered us compassion. It really meant a lot. 

NEVER say anything to minimize a pet owner’s grief such as, “It’s just a dog” or “You can always get a new pet”- And please do not get them a new pet as a gift unless you talk to them first- They can’t replace the feelings they shared with their pet or duplicate the relationship they built. Most likely, it took years to build it. The reason they’re hurting so badly is because they are grieving the years they “did life” with their pet. Plus, another pet may not have similar personality traits. It’s also not fair to a new pet to place such high expectations on them; any new pet needs to be loved for the unique individual they are. When in doubt, just be there and simply say, “I’m really sorry. Please know I am here. Anytime you’d like to talk, call me.” Your loved one will know when it’s the right time to get a new furry friend….and they’ll appreciate any kind words you can offer them.

If you’re close enough to the person who lost a pet, and you know they cremated their pet or have fur clippings, consider doing something meaningful- I’d suggest inviting them to go somewhere meaningful to sprinkle some of their pet’s ashes at a special place. If the pet had a favorite blanket, you could ask the owner if they’d like for you to have it made into a pillow. You can also buy a necklace or bracelet for the pet owner that they can wear in honor and memory of their pet. We had our vet clip some of our puppy’s fur off after he passed away and I’m taking the fur to Build-A-Bear to be built into stuffed animals that have a clear, see-through heart…one for our son and one for me…so we can “hug” a part of our puppy when we miss him. If your loved one feels up to it, consider inviting them to do something meaningful like this, too.

Realize the inner turmoil your loved one may be going through– When a person has to make the painful decision to euthanize their pet, they’re responsible for ensuring the best interests of their furry best friend. Often times, there is a lot of second guessing…”did we do it at the right time…did we do it prematurely?” If the pet loss was sudden, they may wonder, “did I do all I could do to comfort, help, and save them?” A pet owner may feel deep feelings of guilt, depression, anger, or intense sadness after a pet’s death. They may even blame themselves for not realizing an illness sooner or not having the ability to save their pet’s life. Please take the time to see where your loved one is in their grief process. 

These are just a few suggestions of how to help and encourage a loved one who goes through a pet’s death.

Even if you’re not an animal lover or a “pet person,” these ideas will most likely be very meaningful to your loved ones after they experience losing their furry friend.

Compassion, love, and empathy are what’s important. Always be the compassion today that you hope to receive in the future.

My next blog post in this series will share ideas of how to carefully plan and create the prefect last day for your pet, and also how to create a peaceful experience with your pet’s euthanasia. If you have a pet, you will not want to miss these very important tips and safeguards. There are some lessons we learned the hard way. The next post will help to alleviate future regrets.

Gratitude, healing, & many blessings,
🐾❤️Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️🐾If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

🐾❤️For more encouragement:

❤️🐾Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

🐾❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

❤️🐾Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

🐾❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️🐾FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

The Challenge of Unspoken or Hidden Grief

Some of the most difficult grief experiences to heal from are those that are unspoken.

The reason unspoken grief experiences are so difficult to heal from, is because of the nature of the grief – and the choice to isolate oneself.

As I was helping an anonymous young lady on an online grief forum last week, my heart sure did go out to her. She – unknown to her parents, family, church family, and friends – had gotten pregnant and miscarried her first child 8 weeks into the pregnancy. Fearing judgment, she didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone except for the father of her child. For three years, she’s walked the road of grief all on her own. 

Isolated. Heartbroken. Alone.

With unspoken grief, some grief events have happened recently, while some happened decades ago.

Some may have believed that time would heal their wounds, only to find that time hasn’t healed anything.

There are many grief experiences that are “unspoken” or “unknown”…experiences someone may not feel comfortable sharing with others:

  • Unplanned pregnancies that end in miscarriage, secret adoptions, or abortion
  • A sexual assault 
  • Medical diagnosis such as HIV
  • Mental health diagnosis 
  • Adultery
  • Family or marital issues
  • Abuse
  • Conflict with adult children or other family members
  • Addictions
  • Mistreatment of others or conflict that you never had the chance to make right
  • Church conflict/church abuse
  • Suicide issues that remaining loved ones have to go through
  • Suicide attempt survivors

There are many life challenges people go through. With unspoken grief, they’re just not at a place they feel comfortable sharing with others the tremendous heartache they’ve been through. 

Unspoken grief presents a big challenge for the person going through it: if they keep their grief concealed, they may never find the help or healing their heart needs.

So how do you heal from unspoken grief experiences?

Please realize God never intended for us to walk through grief alone. Community, as well as the many resources available, are very powerful gifts when going through heartache, challenges, and grief.

There are many confidential options for finding help and healing when going through an unspoken grief experience:

  • Seek out confidential help with a trusted pastor, grief counselor, or therapist
  • Find encouragement through a local grief group (GriefShare, The Compassionate Friends, local funeral homes who offer grief seminars, Grief Bites conferences, etc.). Many grievers do not realize their grief situations can remain completely anonymous at these meetings, conferences, and seminars. Outside of introducing yourself, you don’t even have to talk if you don’t wish.
  • Utilize online grief resources (blogs, YouVersion’s grief related reading plans, grief related Facebook pages, GriefShare daily emails, The Compassionate Friends private groups, Grief Bites blog, etc.)
  • Talk to a trusted family member or friend…keyword: trusted. When choosing who to confide in, always realize that two listening ears are also attached to a talking mouth – meaning, they can share what you confide in them, so be very selective in who you choose to trust!
  • Go to your local bookstore or favorite online bookseller and purchase books on grief. 
  • The best place to go with your broken heart is to God. He is always there 24/7, He cares deeply for you, and He has the power to heal your heart and spirit.

If you are going through an unspoken grief experience, please know there is hope. You can find relief and healing. Seek out the help you need today so your heart has the opportunity to truly and fully heal.

May God bless and encourage your heart!

Gratitude & blessings,
Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

⭐️For more encouragement:⭐️

❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

Healing From Pet Loss ~ Part 1

Have you ever had a pet you greatly treasured? Pets are amazing! They are so much fun – and so very rewarding! Pets also provide a multitude of health benefits to their owners as well.

As the months and years go by, a very close bond develops with our pets. They brighten our days and make life richer…better.

I always say that pets, especially dogs, are God’s way of making up for all of the bad stuff we go through in life. They unconditionally love us, fiercely protect us, and provide sweet companionship.

There are two days a pet owner will never forget. The day we met our precious furry friend…and the day our much-loved pet passes away.

Pet loss is inevitable. In fact, I bet you currently know a family member or friend who is going through the heartbreaking loss of a pet right now.

I’ll be writing a series of blog posts over pet loss the next few days because I think it is a topic that can help others. Life offers so many rich lessons. I always love learning from others and I hope the lessons I share will help someone who is going through a similar situation.

Someone sent me a great quote about pet loss. I’d like to start this post by sharing it:

“To me, he was a person in a dog suit, a special being who opened my heart as it has never been opened before. Because of him, I know I am forever changed for the better.” ~Lisa Plummer Savas

Today, I’ll be sharing about our family’s recent death of our two year-old puppy. The next blog post, I’ll be sharing tips of how to help a loved one after their pet dies. The third post in this series will be about creating a peaceful experience with your pet’s euthanasia…and very important pitfalls to watch out for and prevent. And the fourth post will be about pet health, which will also include prevention, treatment, and breakthroughs of cancer in pets.

I know by writing about pet loss, I run the risk of a non-pet lover rolling their eyes (I used to do the same, so no worries)…and I also may be criticized by those who are experiencing human loss. I’d like to assure my Grief Bites readers that I am not saying pet loss is worse than losing a human being. To some, it totally truly may be worse; to others it may not be. Each and every grief experience is unique and completely different – no two people will go through or experience grief in the same way. Whether it is a human being or a pet, this is absolute truth every griever can agree on: The greater the investment, the greater the love…and the greater the love, the greater the grief.

I sincerely hope this series on pet loss is a great comfort to anyone who is mourning their much-loved pet, and it is my prayer these posts are not offensive to anyone in the grief community.❤️

Here’s a little background into my (and my family’s) experiences with our pets…and the heartbreaking death we recently went through. This will be a longer blog post than normal, but I know my animal-loving readers will appreciate the background for my upcoming posts.

Our family had mostly outdoor pets while I was growing up…6 dogs and a cat who had kittens. I never formed a super close attachment to majority of these pets – with the exception of my cat – because they either died while they were young or they were primarily outdoor pets, with my dad being the primary caregiver to them. I was close to them, and I definitely cried when they each passed away, but their deaths just were not as intense of a grief experience as losing one of our current indoor dogs this year.

After my senior year of high school, when my cocker spaniel died, I never got another pet until my husband and I bought a Persian kitten as a Christmas gift for our son when he was four years-old. My son ended up being deathly allergic to cats, so we found the sweet kitten a new home.

When my son turned five, my husband and I got him a Labrador puppy for his birthday. Unknown to us, our son’s dog became pregnant from a neighbor’s dog a few weeks before we were scheduled to have her spayed before her first birthday. 

Becoming a mom so young, my son’s dog went crazy and attacked her puppies…even killing two of them…and she also started growling at our son and became very aggressive towards him. We ended up contacting a place who specialized in rehoming our specific breed of dog and gave him to a family who didn’t have children. 

I swore I’d never get another dog after that incident and I didn’t allow our son to be around large dogs from that day forward.

When my son was a senior, I bought him a male Labrador Retriever. We actually still have this sweet, now gray-bearded, pup. He’s always been such a sweetheart – always super good-natured and very loyal to our family.

A few years ago, my son (who is now an adult) asked if we’d buy him a dog for Christmas. He had just made the tough decision to break up with a young lady he was about to propose to, and he wanted the companionship of a pet to help him through that major loss.

My husband and I thought it was a great idea so we gave him a puppy for Christmas. 

The puppy was a rescue and we were told he was a Great Dane. Later, through DNA testing, we found out he was actually half German Shepherd and half Pitbull. This sweet puppy also had been severely abused. When we got him, he had scar lines under the fur on top of his head and on one of his paws. We were told he was eight weeks-old, but our vet told us he was most likely just three to four weeks-old after looking at his forming teeth.

My husband and I frequently had to go to our son’s house…sometimes at 2am…to help bottle feed his new puppy and help crate train him. He was a very high needs puppy who needed a lot of care. Our son ultimately ended up moving back in with us so we could all jointly better help his puppy together. My son also moved back home to better help me, too, since I was going through health issues.

When my son first got his puppy, as he would go to work each day, he’d drop off his sweet puppy at our house every morning and my husband and I would puppy-sit for 10 hours five to seven days every week.

I fell so in love with this precious puppy! Being a person who previously wasn’t very fond of dogs, I ended up becoming a major dog advocate. I now love all dogs since I finally “get it.” 

As I saw my son’s puppy “love him back to life,” I truly respected the new puppy just as much as I loved him. This very special puppy ended up being very important to each of us, each in different ways.

Our son, my husband, our entire family, and I all grew very attached to the puppy and loved him so very much! He’s literally the best dog we’ve ever known!

Right after Christmas, after my son’s puppy had just turned two years-old, he developed a limp while he was at his dog training classes (he had to take weekly specialized classes since he was so aggressive to anyone who wasn’t family). After a few weeks, his limp wasn’t healing or improving so we made an appointment with his vet. The vet told us she had bad news…I thought she was going to suggest surgery. Instead, she told us he had a very aggressive form of cancer (osteosarcoma) and only had a few months to live. We would need to immediately amputate his leg. If we chose treatment, it’d cost about $1400-$3500 for the initial surgery and then several thousand dollars for additional chemo and radiation. 

We took him to a pet oncologist for a second opinion. We were told the same thing: that treatment would do very little for him and that we’d have to drive several hours each weekend and spend these weekends in another city so he could do his cancer treatments. The heartbreaking truth was this would only extend his life for possibly 4-12 additional months – and he’d suffer. A lot. 

We contacted another veterinarian for a third opinion. She knew our puppy from the time we got him. I trusted her completely because she loved him like we did. In fact, outside of family and one other vet tech, she was the only other person he liked. She recommended pain pills and to keep him as comfortable as possible for as long as we could…and to give him the very best life in his ending days.

We were absolutely devastated! Our hearts broke into a million pieces and the pain was excruciating. 

This puppy helped us through some of the worst days of our lives and he loved our family back to life. I always thought to myself, “who rescued who?” whenever I would recall the day we rescued him. His great love for us helped us…even saved us. It was sickeningly and devastatingly unfair that we couldn’t do the same for him. We were powerless to do anything. If love alone could’ve healed our sweet puppy, he would’ve lived to be 100.

My son’s puppy died two months ago (three months after diagnosis) and I was surprised just how deep my grief was in the days and weeks after his death. The grief was thick and incredibly intense. I am thankful we chose to lovingly end his suffering close to the weekend so we’d have all weekend to try to come to terms with our heartache.

I knew I’d be incredibly sad. I just didn’t expect my grief to be as strong and overwhelming as it was. I didn’t think pain like this was possible with losing a pet. To my shame, I had said at a grief conference I spoke at a few years ago that losing a pet wasn’t the end of the world compared to other grief events. I just didn’t “get it” at the time. After all, all of my pets growing up were mostly outdoor pets. There’s a big difference when they’re indoors with you 24/7…and an even bigger difference when you get a pet during a time of grief. I think when you get a pet during a time of grief, and they help you through a super sad time, I believe their death is much harder to get through. 

I certainly have learned so much through this entire experience. After experiencing our puppy’s daily struggles with cancer, my heart immediately went out to my loved ones who had experienced their pet’s illness and/or death.

After we found out about our puppy’s cancer, I invited one particular friend out for coffee – this was a friend who had been through her beloved dog’s death a few years ago. I needed to apologize for not being there more for her. 

When you know better, you’re able to do better. The new knowledge of how painful it is to lose a beloved, precious pet allowed me to understand the devastation my family and friends had been through.

Pet loss is hard. I think something that compounds pet loss is that there is very little concern or compassion from family and friends. Many (like me previously) think, “It’s just a dog….you can get a new one,” not understanding how untrue that is. Yes, you can get a new dog, but a person intensely misses the unique, wonderful dog – and the amazing relationship and love they shared with the specific dog (or pet) they lost.

Two months before our precious puppy died, my son had made arrangements to get another puppy. We were scheduled to put our 2 year-old puppy down on a Friday, and we were scheduled to pick up the new puppy on the Sunday after. We were shocked when our two year-old puppy’s cancer treatments started working so we called off the euthanasia. (More about this on an upcoming blog).

I can’t tell you how many people told us, “Just pour yourself into the new puppy. Be grateful you have the new puppy and your other dog.” Of course, they were only trying to help us, but so many of our extended family and friends just didn’t understand how great of a loss we were going through. We still are hurting from the loss. He just isn’t replaceable. The relationship each of us built with him the whole two years we had him can’t be replicated. Our circumstances just aren’t the same as when we got our two year-old puppy…and I’d never want to go through a major grief experience to duplicate how that special bond was formed.

The loss of this precious puppy was super hard not only because he was a completely indoor dog, but that he also had a very well developed larger-than-life personality. He had a high level of emotional intelligence and intuitively knew how to read our family’s emotions. He was also very smart. When he’d get thirsty, he’d go to our kitchen and bring us a water bottle. He was so personable and intelligent…almost like a mini human. Anytime the songs “Penny Lane” by The Beatles or “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers came on, he would stop what he was doing and “sing” by howling to the entire song. Christmas music would instantly calm him since he would lay on my shoulder as a baby while I was working by the Christmas tree the first month we got him. Anytime Christmas music was played, he’d quietly lay down by me and be perfectly still.

His larger than life personality lit up the entire room once he entered it. Although he weighed over 90 lbs, he considered himself a lap dog…our “little” baby. He always snuggled into our laps as soon as we sat down. He also fiercely protected us. Like I said, we had to put him in specialized dog training classes to calm down his aggression towards anyone who wasn’t family. 

He was a huge, perfect, lovable, sweet teddy bear to us. We’ll always miss his love and all of his many emotions…even the pouting and audible “sighing” he’d do. When he’d get upset about something, he’d let out a big, loud sigh and massively pout. It was a theatrical, broadway-style experience. The whole house would know about it…he’d make sure of it. 

One time, he was so upset that our son went out on a date that he dramatically laid down and pouted on the floor after our son left the house…then this poor puppy took the pouting to a recliner…then to another recliner…then he pouted on the couch…then over to his dog bed…then over to his crate…then to everyone else that was home. He was so mad that he refused his favorite treat – squeeze cheese in a can. It was so funny when he’d behave so dramatically.

Just as quickly as he’d pout, he’d use that same intense energy to love my son and all of our family. When any of us would get home, he’d come running up and wiggle his entire big body. He’d miss us so much that he’d literally cry with joy when he saw us walk in the door or into the room. He’d then gently take our hand by lightly clamping his teeth down so he could lead us to a chair to hold him.

Had I never met my son’s puppy, I never would’ve known…or believed…how incredibly close and rewarding a relationship with a pet could be. I used to think people were crazy – absolutely nuts – to love, adore, and spoil their pets….and then I met this sweet fur baby. He truly opened up a part of my heart that I didn’t even know existed, and he taught me so many lessons.

I will forever be grateful to God for perfectly coordinating us finding that precious puppy!

Even though we have two other big dogs (who I also absolutely love and adore in their own unique and special way), they can never take the place of my lil baby. My relationship with him was simply extra special. He was a huge comfort to me as my heart was breaking for my son while he was going through major grief. This sweet puppy also helped our family and me after my dad was diagnosed with cancer. During his first year of life, he helped our family through some very hard days. I will forever be grateful to him for loving our family so well!

Our sweet puppy will always be loved, treasured and remembered.

If you’ve ever experienced the death of a precious, much-loved pet, my heart sure goes out to you. If you are in the midst of  taking care of a pet who is terminally ill, I am so very sorry. I invite you to read my upcoming blog posts for encouragement.

To all who have a pet they love, take some time today to hug and cuddle them. Take them for a walk and give them an extra treat or two.

Enjoy and treasure each day with all of your loved ones. No matter if they wear a suit of fur or not.

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim🐾❤️🐾

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

For more encouragement:

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️Kim’s FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

💕

Foolishness, Wisdom, Guilt, & Regrets

You can live life like there’s no tomorrow, but tomorrow is still there when you wake up, full of consequences.” – Lecrae 

Many have lived irresponsibly, foolishly, recklessly, or unthinkingly…only to realize they have brought a lot of loss into their own life, or worse, the lives of their loved ones. 

Every choice we make will bring either a blessing…or a consequence. Our choices become our greatest assets…or our greatest liabilities. 

Some choices bring about loss for a season, while other choices bring loss that will last a lifetime. 

This is why wisdom is so very important. God says He will give wisdom to all who ask Him for it. There is an entire book in the Bible that is filled with teachings on wisdom, discernment, knowledge, and understanding. The book of Proverbs teaches us how to live a good life—a solid life that is built on wisdom. 

You may not be able to go back in time to save yourself or others from a foolish decision you made in the past, but you do have the opportunity – starting today – to begin learning how to live a wise life. 

Start to consider the choices you make…from this day forward…and make the commitment to strive to make wise choices. 

When guilt or regrets come to mind? Use it as a signal to ask God to forgive you, make amends, and ultimately to choose and do better. Most of the poor decisions we make are made out of foolishness or a lack of understanding. If we KNEW better, we would have CHOSEN better. Give yourself some slack and some much needed grace…and then purposely become an intentional lifelong learner so you can then be freed up to make better choices.

Ask God for wisdom, understanding, and discernment to make good solid wise choices too…because good decisions are also a gift from Him. Also ask him for His grace and peace! 

Consider reading the entire book of Proverbs. It is a wealth of wisdom and knowledge to know how to live a wise and great life, as well as a life that pleases God which releases His favor and blessings.

If you read one chapter of Proverbs each day, you’ll read through the whole book of Proverbs (all 31 chapters) each and every month. 

You’ll be so glad you did!

©2015 by Kim Niles/Grief Bites

(from the FREE 60-Day YouVersion Bible reading plan, Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief)

For more encouragement, please feel free to check out all of the free Grief Bites devotionals on the YouVersion/Bible App.

http://www.griefbites.com

http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

When Hope Seems Lost

When going through grief or the hardships of life, it can be easy to lose hope.

When googling a definition for hope, this came up:

Hope~
1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
synonyms: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, design; More

After I saw this definition for hope, I quickly realized that the reason hope is not readily available to a griever is because the expectation and desire is for our loved one to still be with us…or for a past circumstance to not have happened…and we can’t make that happen.

As I looked at the synonyms…aspiration…desire…wish…expectation…ambition…aim…goal…plan…design, I realized hope itself can be created out of these synonyms of hope.

We can’t bring a loved one back…and in many situations in life, we may not have the ability to take back something that happened in the past…but we can all make the important life-saving decision to aspire to create a new normal.

We can create new desires for our futures. We can form new wishes and expectations, have new ambitions, aim our sights on fresh new goals, make new plans, and come up with a new design for our lives.

It’s not easy or fun…and if a griever is completely honest with themselves, it will most likely be one of the hardest things a person will ever have to do. Creating a new “normal” isn’t something any griever would willingly sign up for…but the alternative is to die a little bit more inside every. single. day. The ultimate alternative is to permanently lose hope.

So we hope for a better tomorrow…we hope someday the pain will not feel as fresh as it does today…we hope that life will once again be the joyful song we once knew it to be…and we hope that eventually hope itself will be renewed so we can truly feel hope once again on an everyday basis.

How do we regain our hope after life devastates us?

That will look different for each individual griever. Hope is something that requires self-work and renewing hope is something we must CHOOSE for ourselves.

I personally find hope in God. In grief, He is the only thing that has ever made sense…and the only One who has ever had the ability to make sense out of my grief.

As I struggle through situations I don’t understand, I ask God to show me deeper levels of His love and comfort. I ask Him to reveal a greater depth and perspective about life that will help me, or someone I know, at a future date. I do not like to feel as though life or grief is in vain or wasted, so I seek to learn life lessons through anything I go through in life…good and bad.

A few months ago, I came across Psalm 107:23-31 as I was studying about prayer. It spoke volumes to me because grief makes a soul feel as though it is drowning in the deep. As the waves of grief come crashing in, it can feel just like a horrible storm that leaves you miserable and at your wit’s end. It can make you feel as though you have no hope.

Psalm 107:23-31, “Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, Which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men!”

When we cry out to God in our heartache and troubles, He has the powerful ability to renew our hope and bring us out of our distress. He is the One who can quiet the waves we go through in life, causing the storms of life to be still, when we allow Him to guide and direct us in life.

Today, if you are struggling with God and wondering if hope will ever be a true part of your life again, I encourage you to call out to God and seek Him for His help. I encourage you to do whatever you need to do to regain your personal hope.

Hope can be renewed. It may take time, and maybe even a lot of tears, but it can happen. Life can be good again, too!

Faith and hope go hand-in-hand. When you are lacking in one, strengthen the other. Both can be built by choice.

Ask yourself, “How can I strengthen my hope or faith today?”

Diligently think of new ways to build your hope back up.

It may be hard at first…and it may take baby steps…but one step at a time, made each and every day, will eventually lead you to a new normal of experiencing HOPE.

Once one rebuilds their hope, they then have the incredible opportunity to start rebuilding their life.

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
❤️
Resources~

Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: (Coming November 4, 2015)

Conflict Resolution (Pt 3)- 75 Character Qualities That Can Change Your Life

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” ~Helen Keller

Grief, conflict, hardships, struggles, and suffering are opportune times to develop personal character because through each of these circumstances, character is revealed…and tested…the most.

The key to changing every aspect of  life…including conflict resolution…is developing solid character because character and success go hand in hand. 

Show me a person who has solid character and I’ll show you someone who handles grief circumstances and conflict wisely, as well as marriage, parenting, career, and relationship issues.

The amount of character one develops in life directly influences how much success they will enjoy…in their spiritual walk, personal life, marriage, family, finances, relationships, career—basically everything!

A lack of character is quite costly because character is a derivative of the heart…and the heart is the single greatest indicator of what we will choose to do with EVERY area of our lives.

 

Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

 

Why is character so vitally important? Because character affects ourselves and everyone we come into contact with. Character is singlehandedly the greatest impact a person can have in this world.

 

The following character list is great to go by when:

  • developing personal character
  • going through grief or hardships
  • experiencing conflict
  • looking for a dating/marriage partner
  • training your children
  • interviewing a potential staff member
  • living life

Whatever conflict you are experiencing right now, consider which character trait has been violated. After discovering which trait has not been honored, you then will be free to begin developing the character trait to bring about restoration.

Ask God to reveal to your heart how to best develop each character trait below. As you read each character trait, ask yourself how you can effectively develop each trait so it can truly become a part of your regular day-to-day life.

 

75 Character Qualities That Can Change Your Life
1. Alertness vs. Unawareness– Being aware of that which is taking place around me so I can have the right response to it (Mark 14:38)

2. Attentiveness vs. Unconcern Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided attention to his words and emotions (Hebrews 2:1)

3. Availability vs. Self-centeredness– Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of God and those I am serving (Philippians 2:20–21)

4. Boldness vs. Fearfulness– Confidence that what I have to say or do is true and right and just in the sight of God (Acts 4:29)

5. Cautiousness vs. Rashness– Knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions (Proverbs 19:2)

6. Communication vs. Lacking Communication– Willingly, kindly, and clearly communicating my thoughts, ideas, concerns, and needs with others while allowing them to clearly communicate their needs, ideas, concerns, and thoughts as well (Ephesians 4:25-29)

7. Compassion vs. Indifference (I John 3:17)- Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others.

8. Community vs. Isolation– Treating my family the very best I possibly can (realizing God specifically placed them in my life) and also seeking out a great church and wise friends to “do life” with (Hebrews 10:24-25)

9. Contentment vs. Covetousness Realizing that God has provided everything I need for my present happiness, and not comparing myself or my life to others (I Timothy 6:8)

10. Cooperation vs. Rebellion Doing my part to harmoniously respect, obey, and cooperate with God,  as well as all the authority figures, law enforcement, and people (spouse, parents, elders, family, employers, church) God has placed in my life, and wisely choosing not to rebel against scripture or legitimate guidelines, laws, rules, and boundaries (Hebrews 13:17, Romans 13:1-5, Ephesians 6:1-3)

11. Courage vs. Cowardice– Choosing to face any obstacle in life with courage so as not to run away from hardships or responsibilities (Philippians 4:13)

12. Courtesy vs. Rudeness Extending respect, kindness, and courtesy to everyone I come into contact with–regardless of their behavior (Ephesians 4:32)

13. Creativity vs. Underachievement/Dullness Approaching a need, a task, an idea from a new perspective (Romans 12:2)  and considering all of the creative ways to implement a bright outcome

14. Decisiveness vs. Double-mindedness- The ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the will and ways of God (James 1:5)

15. Dedication vs. Wavering Establishing a razor sharp focus and dedication in my relationships with God and others, as well as my life purpose, for God’s glory (Colossians 3:17)

16. Deference vs. Rudeness- Limiting my own personal freedom in order to not offend the tastes of those whom God has called me to serve (Romans 14:21) and showing proper respect and honor to others above my own selfish interests or inclinations

17. Dependability vs. Inconsistency– Fulfilling what I consented to do even if it means unexpected sacrifice (Psalm 15:4)

18. Determination vs. Faintheartedness– Purposing to accomplish God’s goals in God’s time regardless of the opposition (II Timothy 4:7–8)

19. Diligence vs. Slothfulness Visualizing each task as a special assignment from the Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it (Colossians 3:23)

20. Discernment vs. Judgment– The God-given ability to understand why things happen (I Samuel 16:7)

21. Discretion vs. Simplemindedness The ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes which could result in undesirable consequences (Proverbs 22:3)

22. Empathy vs. Hard-heartedness/Aloofness Taking the time to genuinely care about others and see things from their perspective by choosing to put myself in their “shoes” and truly taking the time to see how my words and actions could possibly affect them (Colossians 3:12, Romans 12:15)

23. Endurance vs. Giving up The inward strength to withstand stress to accomplish God’s best (Galatians 6:9)

24. Enthusiasm/Excellence vs. Apathy– Expressing with my soul the joy of my spirit (I Thessalonians 5:16,19) and seeking to live my life and use all of my talents to the best of my ability

25. Faith vs. Presumption- Visualizing what God intends to do in a given situation and acting in harmony with it (Hebrews 11:1)

26. Faithfulness vs. Unfaithfulness- Being, and remaining, committed to the people and responsibilities God has entrusted to me and refusing to cheat God, them, or myself out of God’s best (Proverbs 3:3, Luke 16:10)

27. Flexibility vs. Resistance- Not setting my affections on ideas or plans which could be changed by God or others (Colossians 3:2)

28.Forgiveness vs. Bitterness/Rejection– Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and allowing God to love them through me (Ephesians 4:32)

29. Generosity/Hospitality vs. Stinginess Realizing that all I have belongs to God and using it for His purposes (II Corinthians 9:6)

30. Gentleness vs. Harshness Showing personal care and concern in meeting the need of others (I Thessalonians 2:7)

31. Gratefulness vs. Unthankfulness– Making known to God and others in what ways they have benefited my life (I Corinthians 4:7)

32. Honesty vs. LyingCommitting to live a life of truth by being honest with God, myself, and others, and resisting the temptation to tell outright lies, white lies, or partial truths (1 Peter 3:10, Colossians 3:9)

33. Honor vs. Dishonor- Choosing to live a life of honor by being honorable in all of my thoughts, actions, words, and deeds, and highly honoring those God has placed in my life–especially family (Psalm 1, Colossians 3:17)

34. Hospitality vs. Loneliness Cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spiritual refreshment with family and friends (Hebrews 13:2)

35. Humility vs. Pride Recognizing that it is actually God and others who are responsible for the achievements in my life (James 4:6)

36. Humor/Fun vs. Coldness- Choosing to see the goodness, enjoyment, fun, and humor life has to offer with those God has placed in my life in spite of circumstances (Psalm 27:13, Ecclesiastes 3:1-22)

37. Initiative vs. Unresponsiveness– Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it (Romans 12:21)

38. Integrity vs. Lack of character- Choosing to live a life of character even when it becomes difficult, realizing that who I am in private reveals my true integrity (Psalm 18:25, Psalm 119:1, Proverbs 2:6-8)

39. Joyfulness vs. Self-pity– The spontaneous enthusiasm of my spirit when my soul is in fellowship with the Lord (Psalm 16:11)

40. Justice vs. Fairness– Keeping myself “in check” and committing to living out personal responsibility to God’s unchanging laws (Micah 6:8)

41. Kindness vs. Harshness– Choosing to be kind in all I do, and maintaining a soft kind heart to others, as well as refusing to be harsh or hardhearted (Luke 6:31, Colossians 3:12-14)

42. Knowledge vs. SimplemindednessMaking the decision to be in awe of God and better myself every single day by learning as much as I can so as to avoid living an unwise simpleminded life (Proverbs 18:15, Proverbs 1:7)

43. Leadership vs. Wavering– Using my leadership wisely by investing in and encouraging those underneath my leadership in every way I can to ensure their success (Titus 1:7-14)

44. Love vs. Selfishness Choosing to love God, and my family and friends extravagantly, and giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive personal reward (I Corinthians 13:3)

45. Loyalty vs. Unfaithfulness Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and to those whom He has called me to serve (John 15:13) and being loyal to my family and friends

46. Meekness vs. Anger– Yielding my personal rights and expectations to God (Psalm 62:5) and using anger as a signal to warn me of possible self-centeredness

47. Mercy vs. Judgment Choosing to be the mercy and compassion to others today that I would want to receive myself tomorrow (Luke 6:36, Matthew 5:7)

48. Obedience vs. Willfulness Freedom to be creative under the protection of divinely appointed authority (II Corinthians 10:5) as well as going out of my way to respect authority

49. Orderliness vs. Disorganization– Preparing myself and my surroundings so I will achieve the greatest efficiency (I Corinthians 14:40)

50. Patience vs. Restlessness– Accepting a difficult situation from God without giving Him a deadline to remove it (Romans 5:3–4)

51. Peace vs. Contention/Disharmony– Choosing to honor God by being a peacemaker and creating harmony in difficult relationships and situations (II Timothy 2:24)

52. Persuasiveness vs. Contentiousness– Guiding vital truths around another’s mental roadblocks without being offensive or disrespectful (II Timothy 2:24)

53. Punctuality vs. Tardiness Showing high esteem for other people and their time (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

54. Purpose vs. Lack of Focus- Finding out and fulfilling my life purpose, as well as the purpose for any project I am serving on with others, so as to bring ultimate glory to God in my life (Isaiah 43:7, Psalm 139:13-16, Philippians 2:1-4)

55. Purity of Motives vs. Manipulation– Resisting the urge to manipulate people or situations by continually allowing God to purify and refine my heart and motives to be inline with God’s Word and His Will (Zechariah 13:9, Ephesians 5:26)

56. Resilience vs. Quitting/Cowardice- Developing tenacity and refusing to quit while going through trials or hardships and purposefully seeking out God’s heart so that He can refresh and lift me up in His timing…and realizing God has the power to work everything together for the good of every situation (Joshua 1:9, Romans 8:28)

57. Resourcefulness vs. Wastefulness Wise use of that which others would normally overlook or discard (Luke 16:10)

58. Responsibility vs. Unreliability– Knowing and doing what both God and others are expecting from me (Romans 14:12)

59. Restoration vs. Incompleteness– Taking upon myself the responsibility to seek out restoration with God, others, and circumstances when I have been offensive or hurtful to others…and while initiating restoration, allowing God to restore me (Jeremiah 17:14, 2 Chronicles 7:14)

60. Reverence vs. Disrespect– Awareness of how God is working through the people and events in my life to produce the character of Christ in me (Proverbs 23:17–18)

61. Safety vs. Neglectfulness– Taking the time to do my responsibilities the right way and ensuring the safety of others as well as myself (Colossians 3:23)

62. Security vs. Anxiety– Structuring my life around that which is eternal and cannot be destroyed or taken away (John 6:27)

63. Self-Control vs. Self-indulgence Instant obedience to the initial promptings of God’s Spirit as well as obeying God’s Word (Galatians 5:24–25)

64. Sensitivity vs. Callousness– Exercising my senses so I can perceive the true spirit and emotions of those around me (Romans 12:15)

65. Servant’s Heart vs. Taking– Looking for ways to serve God, my family, and others (above myself) so that I can fully invest in them, make a positive impact, and benefit their life (Matthew 23:11, 1 Timothy 5:8, Philippians 2:1-11)

66. Sincerity vs. Hypocrisy/Insincerity Eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives (I Peter 1:22)

67. Teamwork vs. Isolated Independence- Choosing to do what is truly best for everybody involved—whether it is at home, church or work—instead of focusing on my own goals, agenda, or myself (Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Peter 4:10, 1 Corinthians 12)

68. Thoroughness vs. Incompleteness– Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if neglected (Proverbs 18:15)

69. Thriftiness vs. Extravagance– Not allowing myself or others to spend that which is not necessary (Luke 16:11)

70. Tolerance vs. Prejudice Acceptance of others as unique expressions of specific character qualities in varying degrees of maturity (Philippians 2:2)

71. Truthfulness vs. Deception– Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts (Ephesians 4:25)

72. Understanding vs. Lack of Knowledge- Choosing to “seek to understand” people and situations through God’s perspective by searching God’s Word for answers so that I can effectively develop godly knowledge and an understanding heart towards others (2 Timothy 3:16, Proverbs 4:7)

73. Virtue vs. Impurity The moral excellence and purity of spirit that radiate from my life as I obey God’s Word (II Peter 1:3)

74. Vision vs. Apathy– The ability to visualize and realize a vision without becoming apathetic while ultimately helping to accomplish God’s plans and purpose (Philippians 3:14)

75. Wisdom vs. Foolishness/Natural Inclinations Seeing and responding to life’s situations from God’s frame of reference (Proverbs 9:10)

 

The greater the character, the greater the favor one will enjoy in life.

Make all your ways pleasing to God and He will make your paths straight. 

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” (AMP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on building character, you may wish to check out these resources:

http://www.characterfirst.com/qualities

*Character Qualities: 49 are through IBLP, 26 are my own creation

http://ati.iblp.org/ati/family/curriculum/characterqualities.pdf

10+10=2? 20 Questions To Begin Conflict Resolution (Pt. 1)

Have you ever experienced conflict with a spouse, child, parent, family member, in-law, ex, friend, church staff, church member, or co-worker?

What do you consider the greatest litmus test for the times when you, or those around you, experience conflict?

Do you consider:
How they have personally treated you?
How you have personally seen them treat others?
Their usual character?
Your usual character?
How you have treated them?

The world is rampant with grief, loss, disappointment, conflict, betrayal, and relational hurts.

Grief, loss, disappointment, conflict, betrayal, and ongoing hurt can bring out the absolute worst in people…and we all have the possibility of this due to the hurt, or past hurts, in our lives.

When a person hurts us, or someone we love, most people do one of four things:

1. Get even. They hurt the person back through gossip, manipulation, & reputation ruining.
2. Stuff it down, hidden deep inside, and ignore it. They pretend all is well.
3. Become a doormat and excuse it because they don’t like conflict.
4. Lash out at the other person due to deep hurts and ongoing frustrations.

If we are all honest, we probably have done a few of these things in our lifetime.

But…there is a better way.

We must first consider some important information when going through times of conflict:

  • What if we are hurting ourselves, or our own families, in the midst of the conflicts we face?
  • What if we are contributing to hurting many others in the crossfire of our disagreements…potentially for generations?
  • What if people take up offenses for loved ones, leading to serious discord that keeps on going…and going…and going. At the very least, we’ve all heard mother-in-law jokes…and at the very worst, we’ve all seen political issues and wars in the world that are violently ongoing.
  • What if we harm our own character, reputation, or spiritual witness, or that of our family’s, or that of another person?

Think about it…every conflict we are in doesn’t just affect us.

 

Each and every conflict on earth was started with a little spark that grew into a monumental fire.

How do we personally tend to our “little sparks” before great damage is done?

It is important to understand the truth that we’ve all experienced conflict due to others, as well as of our own making:
1. We’ve all been 100% innocent and on the receiving end of a combative person/situation/issue
…and…
2. We’ve all dished out our share of mistreatment or misinformation onto others
Majority of the time, we are right in the middle of these two extremes…doing both dishing and receiving.

 

Ok, so about that little spark that’s headed towards becoming a wildfire of destruction…

When going through conflict, it can zap us in many ways. The deeper the conflict, and the longer it lasts, the more we probably are tempted to question God why we are having to go through it.

Conflict. is. painful.

Why is conflict so prevalent?

Ultimately, conflict surfaces because it is one of the enemy’s strongest ways of keeping us from achieving what God wants for us and what God truly wants for those around us. Conflict continually keeps hurts and problems stirred up…and sucks up all our energy…which prevents us from FULLY achieving God’s Will and His best for our lives.

If you are going through conflict, the best thing to do is for both parties to self reflect and ask a few questions of themselves:

1. Did I do anything to wrong the person I’m having issues with?
2. Has there been an offense in the past that I haven’t made right? (maybe they’re reacting to a past hurt)
3. How have I contributed to this problem?
4. Have I gossiped or lied about them…or embellished the facts?
5. Have I been spiteful, hateful, unreasonable, or vindictive?
6. Have I tried to discredit them or relayed damaging info or “facts” about them to others, casting them in a bad light, or tried to get others on my side?
7. Is this a sin cycle passed down or learned from my parents (problems with authority figures, in-law issues, conflict stemming from divorce/death, rejecting others, anger, bitterness, “getting even”, rebellion, etc)?
8. Have I had a spirit of “competition” or jealousy where I’m trying to “win” or win my own way, “one up” someone, or gain favor at another person’s expense? (Example: siblings or daughter-in-laws & mother-in-laws)
9. Have I been prideful, unwilling to budge, or unwilling to do my part?
10. Have I taken up an offense for a loved one, without considering the other person’s feelings or their side of the story?

As you read these 10 questions, did you truly self reflect?
If not, take a moment to value and rid yourself of any pride, bitterness, or hurt you are harboring in your heart…free yourself…and go back and re-read the 10 questions of self reflection (focusing on each bolded ‘I‘)…and TRULY self reflect, as you put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Then you will be able to free yourself up to make a commitment to do what is honorable in the conflict you are in as much as you are truly able to.
Remember: you’re not only doing this for them…because, let’s face it, if left to us, we aren’t going to be in the mood to self reflect or do a kind favor to anyone who has been hurtful or offensive. We need to remember that we are also choosing to do this to honor God, and for our own peace, sanity, and joy, as well as those around us who are deeply affected by the conflict. Most conflicts affect everyone close to us…they’re usually never just a “2 person” ordeal.

Times of conflict are extremely painful…but they can also be excellent opportunities for personal growth.

Consider the incredible invaluable opportunity you have right in front of you to develop character & humility in your own life to become a stronger, kinder, more richly developed person.
Each person needs to ask their self:

1. What have I personally done to make the situation right?
2. Have I gone to the person to make amends?
3. Have I done, or am I willing to do, the “right thing” as much as is in my power to do so?
4. Have I truly done an inventory of the hurtful or hate-filled words I have spoken (to them, about them, and to others) as well as the hurtful things I have done to them?
5. Have I genuinely considered what I have cost them (relationally, spiritually, reputation, emotionally, monetarily/financially, time-wise, wasted special occasions, etc)
6. Have I been willing to be a peacemaker and actively taken the steps to extend forgiveness, mercy, and grace?
7. Have I put myself in “their shoes” to see how they feel…or how this has affected them?
8. Have I offered a sincere apology or offered to actively make my “wrongs” right? (a hurt or offended person is hard to win over. An apology…and sometimes restitution…is vital. Humbling but it is a must-do)
9. Have I given the person the “benefit of the doubt” and/or tried to understand their intentions behind their actions? (sometimes, not everything is personal)
And most importantly…
10. Have I genuinely prayed about the situation and asked God what to do...am I truly willing to obey God, regardless of how I feel or what I ultimately want?

We live in a broken world, but that doesn’t necessarily give us a “free pass” to go around behaving like broken people. We need to hold ourselves accountable for every word, action, and deed…because we will eventually have to give an account of these to God.  Speaking of God, we have a Helper to make us whole, Who wants to make our offender whole, and to bring healing to any situation…if we want His help. So, if we want God’s help, it is vital to go to Him and His Word for lasting answers.

Although conflict can be incredible uncomfortable to go through, sometimes, conflict can be a catalyst to bring healing into your life, or an offensive person’s life. Sometimes, God wants us to be that person…helping the very person who hurt our heart. It’s EXACTLY what Christ did…and still does…for us.

 

Compassion, empathy, and understanding pave the way…they all are key components to begin the healing that is needed.

Make the decision to start being the compassion & understanding to others TODAY that YOU wish to receive TOMORROW.

Most conflict issues can be resolved when one person stands up, decides to show good character, and becomes the bigger person to make amends.

We are all in this together.
Everybody in the world has been deeply hurt…and everybody in the world has deeply hurt others.

How cool would it be if we all chose to live life on the higher road, making the decision to love God and love others starting right now?

Many problematic conflicts could be completely resolved if we could master in ourselves those 2 important…life-changing…decisions.

Starting today, let’s begin to un-complicate life and choose to pursue healing, spiritual strength, emotional health, kindness, compassion, and genuine love.

It will most likely take time, and getting used to, but it can be worth it!

Conflict resolution comes to life when both parties agree to:

1. Truly love God
2. Genuinely love others

In action.

Because, ultimately, love can truly cover over a multitude of hurts and sin.

Yes, 10+10 can equal 2…when the 2 parties in a conflict ask themselves those important 20 questions to come to a WHOLE resolution.

 

Does this still seem impossible? My next post will be all about how to practically accomplish conflict resolution when you don’t want to through developing character. Stay tuned!

 

Lookup these verses on www.bible.com: 1 Peter 4:8, Ephesians 4:32, James 1:12, Matthew 5:9, Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:2-3, James 3:18, Proverbs 13:10, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Ephesians 5:14-17, Matthew 6:14, 1 Corinthians 13:13, Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 12:33-37, Romans 14:12

 

God has been showing me some pretty cool stuff this week…stuff I definitely will be putting into practice myself! Looking forward to writing more about this! 🙂