Love trusts and nurtures. Fear is suspicious and defends. When love is wounded in a marriage, fear emerges. Trust is displaced by suspicion. Mutual nurturing is displaced by defensiveness.

Can the relationship heal? Certainly! Love can assume again its role of promoting trust and nurturing if fear and its suspicions die. If the couple is afraid to love, they will not risk being vulnerable. Recovery is questionable. If the couple has the courage to restore healthy love, recovery will occur.

Should the couple forget the experience? Should they wipe from memory the events and attitudes that wounded love and created fear? No. If memory is erased, the experience does not teach them. If the experience taught no constructive lessons, the mistakes are likely to be repeated.

Should those memories dominate their awareness? No. If love for each other does not dominate thoughts and emotions, the relationship will not heal or mature.

The same is true in a congregation. Love trusts and nurtures. Fear is suspicious and defends. When love is wounded, fear emerges. Trust is displaced with suspicion, and nurturing is displaced with defensiveness. Relationships heal if fear and suspicions are allowed to die. While constructive lessons must be learned from bad experiences, heartache and disappointment must not dominate thoughts and feelings. The congregation seeks more than healing. It seeks the success only growth and maturity produce.

Help fear and suspicion die. Help restore love's trust and nurturing. Do not fear congregational vulnerability--God is in control. Nurture living relationships that reflect the life and hope found in being God's family and Christ's body.

Pray for others by name. Let them know that they are in your prayers. Help them form relationships. Be as warm, excited, and helpful as is our Father.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 16 February 1997

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