“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” -1 Peter 4:8
As the nightmare of the pandemic is winding down for many, more and more people are crawling out of their shells and reconnecting with family and friends again. Weddings, barbeques and vacations are beginning to resume and there is joy among family and friends once more. You may be feeling the strange unfamiliarity that comes from not seeing people for an extended period of time. People may look and act differently than before. The past year and a half has changed the world, for better or worse, and now we must find a way to reconnect with our loved ones. Perhaps you have seen most of your friends and family on a regular basis and haven’t missed much. What a blessing! Either way, this summer is a perfect time to restore the important relationships in our lives. Every relationship, whether with your spouse, child, parent, sibling or friend, has a mystery component to it that often no one addresses: the unsaid. Even though you may have known someone your whole life, there are parts of their life you know nothing about. The unsaid may include hopes, dreams, pain, abuse, disappointments, joys, experiences, mistakes, embarrassment, successes and so on. Why don’t we often talk about these things with those we love? There may be many reasons in each different relationship, but a few may include: shame, fear of rejection, fear of judgment, fear of being misunderstood, fear of abandonment or even humility. Whatever the reason is that we do not share, the unsaid seems to make us feel uncomfortable. It’s just easier to avoid it altogether.
Take a moment to think about the important relationships in your life and reflect on the unsaid in each one. What has your heart been holding back and why? Not everything in the unsaid part of our lives is appropriate to share in every relationship. Some things are best left between us and God. However, there are many things in the unsaid we could share or even want to share, but we feel hesitant. Some of the keys to real relational healing lies in the unsaid. How many conflicts have we swept under the rug or how many times has “I love you” gone unexpressed? There is no better time than the present to begin addressing the unsaid in our relationships and to step into healing and restoration. Maybe there are apologies that need to be made and forgiveness than needs to be given? It may be very difficult to share and it may change the dynamic of the relationship. It will require courage and honesty. Even though we can’t control how another person will respond to us sharing the unsaid, we can experience increased peace, joy and healing for ourselves. Even if someone abandons a relationship with us, God never will. In Deuteronomy 31:8, Moses says, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
It’s ok to take baby steps and grow in trust. You don’t have to overwhelm people with all the things they never knew about you. Share a little here and there and build deeper trust in your relationships. Ask questions of those in your life you want to grow closer to and listen sincerely without judgment. Take on the mindset of a student who is ready to learn, rather than a judge who is looking to determine right from wrong. If they share something critical about you, try not to jump into defense mode. Listen and respond with grace. There may be years of misunderstanding that will be resolved with the truth. Practice humility and apologize when necessary without taking on guilt that is not yours to bear. Be prepared to be surprised by the truth. Expect to find hidden treasures in the hearts of your loved ones. May our goal be to love one another. The Apostle Peter said, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Speaking of love, a fun and easy way to start sharing the unsaid in your relationships is to talk about Love Language. The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman is a bestselling book that’s been around for nearly three decades. Many of you have heard of it already, but for those who haven’t, it will hopefully be very helpful for you in each relationship. I find it to be one of the most important relational tools for expressing love other than the personality types of Keirsey’s Temperament Theory (Dr. David Keirsey). Although both are tremendously helpful in building healthy relationships, Love Language is the most simple to understand and implement. The Five Love Languages that Dr. Chapman defines are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. All of these forms of expressing love are important, but some of them feel more loving to us than the others. For example, if your friend or family member values Acts of Service the most, but you never offer to help them, they may not feel like you really care about them. It matters less how many nice things you say to them or gifts you give them. Offering to lend a hand and help out will matter the most to them. If Physical Touch is your Love Language, then I’m sure this past year has been really hard for you! Please, let your family and friends know that you really need a hug! Love Language and Personality are just a couple topics that can make the unsaid easier to dive into. They are just a launching point into exploring the parts of our identities that are often hidden, but that need to be expressed.
Let’s tackle the unsaid with one step at a time:
- Reflect on who the important people are in your life, both family and friends.
- Write their names down and list out a few unsaid things on your heart you want to share with them.
- Write down some questions you want to ask them.
- Find out your Love Language, if you don’t already know it, and share it with them. Ask about theirs as well. (https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language) P.S. Feel free to share yours in the comments below!
- Pray and ask the Lord for wisdom about what and when to share the unsaid with each person.
- Take courage and text, call or spend time with your loved ones sharing what’s on your heart.
- Watch and praise God for the restoration beginning to take place!
Let’s give all of our fear and intimidation to God and trust him with the results. Embrace the freedom that comes from allowing yourself to say the unsaid. God will lead us into the unknowns of our relationships and stay close by our side. Let’s take a risk and overcome every obstacle that keeps us in silence. It’s time to let your heart speak. It’s time to hear the truth. Let’s love like never before! It’s restoration time!