Tackle the Tangles

My post last week, “What’s Unpacked Sometimes Unravels,” was the most unnatural thing I’ve ever written. I know it was wise, but so unlike me. I struggle to leave anything alone; I’m the world’s worst at leaving things unpacked. I want to set it straight and get it over with, so I can move on cleanly. But I do believe there are situations where that’s not the wise thing to do.

When issues get unpacked, it’s the relationships that can unravel. Facts and feelings get all tangled up, sort of like the spinning reel I once used to fish. You look at the mess . . . the tangles and the knots and you just want to walk away. These tangled up messes create anxiety . . . raw spots that hurt every time they’re touched.

There are two ways to tackle the tangle. If it’s just you that’s all ‘balled-up’ . . . if you’re the one unraveling, then taking your thoughts and feelings to the Lord and renewing your mind may be the answer. Realizing God has forgiven us already empowers us to forgive ourselves. Picture that tangled up mess of fishing line. Sometimes the best thing is to cut off the balled-up mess and throw it away. Reconnect the pieces with a strong knot and go back to fishing. Seeing that tangled mess in the trash is freeing. That’s grace!

But it’s harder when there are two people involved. If healing is going to come . . . if you’re going to get back to fishing, you have to untangle the mess. Event by event, decision by decision, we have to sit down and take the time to straighten out the mess . . . to make apologies and reconsider things we thought were facts. Frank conversations and real change may be necessary. And patience . . . oh, patience! It takes a lot of patience and a lot of time to untangle a mess. It’s ironic how things can get tangled so quickly but take so long to untangle.

We can’t talk our way out of what we behave our way into. We have to act. When, in humility, we take ownership of our messes and do the hard work of making things right, we lay a foundation built to carry the weight of future mistakes. When we hold onto our pride, burying things and pretending they’re fixed, we set ourselves up for future failure.

Scripture: Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5:16)

Mentor Tip: Men in your group may get convicted and want to go home and confess their sins to their wives. All of them. Caution your guys about dumping their past messes on their wives, no matter how well intended. Ask God to give them wisdom that exceeds courage.

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