Biblical First-Aid for Relationships

By Deacon Mike Seibert

Connecting Faith and Life

Way back in sixth grade, I took a first-aid class. Maybe the only thing that stuck with me was how to stop bleeding.

First, you gotta decide if it’s a problem – if it’s just a scratch you kind of ignore it … maybe wash it … but if you’re in the middle of a kick-ball game, that ain’t enough to stop you. But when the wound goes deep, it becomes a potential threat to life. You can only lose so much blood before you go unconscious. I learned four methods for controlling the bleeding:

  1. Direct Pressure, 2) Elevation, 3) Pressure Points, 4) Tourniquet

Each method is used in progressive order depending on the severity of the wound. Most bleeding is stopped with direct pressure – simply placing a sterile cloth over the wound and holding it for a few minutes allows the body to naturally clot the wound. In other words, stop the bleeding. Amazingly, the body is built to heal itself and preserve the well-being of every one of its members.

Elevation is another easy method – for example, lifting your hand high reduces the amount of blood pressure that reaches your hand, because it’s above your heart. Again – the purpose is to reduce the flow of blood to give your body time to naturally clot.

Pressure points can be employed if the first two methods fail. For example, if your hand or wrist is bleeding, you can pinch the artery in your upper arm – thereby reducing the flow of blood to that area.

The last resort – when the bleeding doesn’t stop and the patient’s life is at stake, you may need to apply a tourniquet. This is where you tie off the limb and cinch it down – effectively eliminating all blood flow to the damaged limb. The unfortunate side-effect is that you will usually lose the limb entirely below the tourniquet, as the tissue will start dying. However, better to lose a limb than a life.

How does this first-aid lesson apply to relationships?

First, you gotta recognize there’s a problem. Often we can just ignore the wounds someone inflicts as if it’s just a scrape. We give them the benefit of the doubt and basically ignore it. However, when someone hurts us more deeply, we can employ our first aid for relationships. See Matthew 18:15-17.

Direct pressure: often just pointing out that they hurt you is enough to allow them to apologize or to correct your misunderstanding and the relationship is healed.

Elevation: Actually, this one should always be used in relationships. By raising our hands to heaven to ask for the Spirit to intervene and teach us how to respond, we’ll often find a solution that we normally wouldn’t have thought of. Perhaps we’ll realize that we were somehow complicit and need to apologize – or we may realize they have a good excuse that hadn’t occurred to us. Regardless, talk to God about the relationship before confronting them.

If they still refuse to stop cutting you, try pressure points – do this by going over their head – to a boss or someone whom they respect and might be able to reason with them. Matthew 18:17: If your brother refuses to listen to you, take a friend – if they still refuse, take it to the church.

If they still refuse, the last resort to stop your bleeding may be a tourniquet. In relationships, that first means setting healthy boundaries. Some people become toxic to us either because of their actions or the reactions that they trigger in us. In extreme cases, cutting off the relationship may be the healthiest option. Unfortunately, a tourniquet may be even more harmful in a relationship as you may be the one cut off – not the offending person. Yet, when dealing with severe wounds, that may be the only option to stop the bleeding.

We can apply the same concept if we think God has hurt us. Obviously, if we apply a tourniquet, it’s not God who is cut off … but rather we are cut off from God. The Spirit always guides us toward forgiveness and healing. The Body of Christ is built to heal itself and preserve the well-being of every one of its members.