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When my husband and I decided to pursue older child adoption, I committed myself to studying about trauma. There are many types and effects of traumatic circumstances, but one of the hardest to recover from (in my opinion) is trauma that results in lost relationships. 

Our bodies were created to stay connected with those closest to us. When trauma causes the loss of those relationships, it can cause serious ramifications in our lives. 

The good news? Our God is in the business of healing. 

“Whatever the reason was, Paris, it’ll be okay. Jesus is really, really good at healing up broken things.”

-Dan, in Love, Paris

Sometimes the loss of some relationships can never be bridged, either because of death or distance or abuse, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still experience healing. And in many other cases, there are truly healthy ways to step back into relationship in a way that honors God and others.

In my newest novel, Love, Paris, the main character, Kathleen Paris, deals with multiple types of trauma from her past which began with the loss of one important person in her life. That loss started a domino effect, filling a season of her life with seemingly endless loss, until one person invested in sharing the gospel with her and invited her to a place of healing. 

Of course, while she might have stabilized her life, there was still a boatload of hurt and heartache behind her that needed tending to. 

While the book is fun (and a little bit romantic!) it’s also a serious look at finding healing and hope when faced with broken relationships. Hopefully, it will also be an encouragement to each of us in supporting and helping those who are in the middle of the healing years. 

“I care because of who you are, not because it matters where you’ve been. And if your heart is breaking, we want to be here for you.”

-Elliot, in Love, Paris

How to Work Towards Healing in Broken Relationships

Giving advice about relationships is difficult because every situation is different, but there are a few key principles that can be applied. I am going to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned about walking beside someone through the trauma of broken relationships. I am also able to share some advice from a friend who has experienced losing relationship with her family and is now working consistently toward healing. (My friend’s advice is directed to the one experiencing broken relationships.)

Helping someone work through broken relationships:

Grief is important and should not be glossed over.  

If someone shares a story of broken relationships with you–no matter what your opinion is about the situation–what they need first is for you to validate and share in their grief with them. No matter how broken relationships come into our lives, there is grief.

To the one experiencing broken relationships:

Let yourself grieve instead of becoming bitter.

So often we are afraid of the negative emotions so we stuff them down but we need to let ourselves feel all of them. Talking in a safe place can help us stop the wrong mindsets or actions that have often become patterns in our lives. 

“My whole body folded in on itself, and I sobbed for the years that were lost and the love I couldn’t have and the sorrow of all these broken pieces that sliced so deep and painfully that everything in me hurt.”

-Paris, in Love, Paris 

Helping someone work through broken relationships:

Pray specifically that God will lead your friend to the underlying issues within themselves that might need to be healed.

Most broken relationships (especially within family) come from unhealthy patterns within the family unit; there needs to be healing of those root issues in someone before anything will change. 

To the one experiencing broken relationships:

I was told for a long time that my family was too toxic for me to be around and I lost years of relationship to that advice. What actually helped was a business conference where I learned conflict resolution skills and what active forgiveness looks like. When I started applying these new patterns of living to my relationships, it revolutionized everything. A major issue in circumstances like these is having “connection” with your family that is deep but not fruitful. This keeps us in a cycle of control, fear, and manipulation, which is toxic. Instead, I learned how to not hold wrongs against my family, own my own problems, and affirm my family while also standing up for myself–all those emotionally intelligent, keeping your love on” things

“All of us were reacting in fear. We were terrified we were going to lose someone else we loved, and in our terror, we created the exact scenario we feared. I don’t want to be afraid anymore.”

-Paris, in Love, Paris 

Helping someone work through broken relationships:

Learn how to affirm and encourage.

Affirm your friend! Brokenness messes with identity. It quiets your voice and makes you afraid. Someone who is working through healing relationships desperately needs to be affirmed and encouraged. 

To the one experiencing broken relationships:

Learn how to say “no.”

One of the unhealthy things in my life was the idea that I didn’t have a voice, so learning about boundaries was super important. I’m still learning that I can say “no” when I don’t feel right about something. This is essential for healthy relationships!  

“Maybe together Dan and I could create links back to the families we’d been born into, and maybe God would keep working small miracles until they added up into life-changing ones.”

-Paris, in Love, Paris

If you are dealing with the loss of relationships in your family, I hope you are encouraged to actively seek healing. God cares so deeply about you. He desires wholeness for His people and tells us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18)

An important thing to remember as you work toward healing is you can only control yourself. One person may do everything needed for healed relationship but that doesn’t fix someone else. This is why God gives a clarification in the call to live at peace: As far as it depends on you. 

“On the way home I recited the story to myself. It starts with Naomi, bitter and sorrow-filled, without husband or children. She goes home and God works through friends, relatives, and this beautiful things called redemption, to fill her home with family once again. 

“Some people read the book of Ruth and see themselves as Ruth…but there was no question about my place in the story. I was Naomi.”  

-Paris, in Love, Paris
Love, Paris by Natasha Metzler

The second book in the Women of Promise series, Love, Paris is now available in paperback and Kindle!

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle

More resources on healing through difficult relationships:

Remember that every journey is different. If something isn’t helpful, set it down and ask the Lord to lead you to resources that will be helpful for your situation. 

Have you walked through broken or difficult relationships and found healing? What resources were encouraging and helpful for you?

Photography: JenniMarie Photography

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