Building Bridges

Sean & Sarah Ryan Profile
Article by Sean & Sarah Ryan
WillowBridge Community Advocates

"Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs." Proverbs 19:11 (NLT)

Have you ever felt wronged by someone? And in response, lashed out with harsh words? In tense situations, letting our emotions get the best of us can be easy. Often, our feelings and temperamental behaviors are intensified, especially when it comes to the people we're closest to.

We have worked as Community Advocates at WillowBridge for two and a half years now, and the best part about our job is getting the privilege of building relationships with our tenants. Many young adults who come through our doors face obstacles that can create relationship challenges.   

Because we're imperfect beings, things get tricky when relationships grow deeper. This is true any time we're dealing with other humans, but this is especially true when engaging with those who are facing the effects of trauma. Some ways that trauma can manifest include deception, fits of anger, irritability, and emotional detachment. When our tenants display these emotional reactions, it can be easy to take it personally.  

While it is certainly appropriate to hold people accountable for their actions, it is vitally important to not do so from a posture of pride or defensiveness. Paul urges believers to "always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love" (Ephesians 4:2, NLT). Paul also reminds us that "our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). Our fight is not with other humans, but the evils that have been inflicted on them.   

We have learned the importance of giving up the right to be offended so that we can build meaningful relationships with the people we work with. Building relationships with those we minister to leads to respect and trust, earning us the opportunity to speak into their lives. The sacrifice is worth it, and the payoff is great! In comparison, consider what Jesus does for us: He offers correction while still being infinitely tender and graceful. While we were still sinners, he brought healing and salvation. He had every right to write us off as hopeless, but He chose to be longsuffering for the sake of being near to us. May our relationships with those near us embody this patient love, grace, and truth.

Sean and Sarah Ryan currently serve at WillowBridge as Community Advocates.