By Rachel Henderson

This article is in the March/April issue 11 of Torah Sisters Magazine.

Recently my husband, Alex, gave a message offering a framework for ideas. Basically, he gave 10 Torah principles that he/we have worked out with much study and solidified as pillars in our faith. We use these principles to throw any new ideas at – to test them and to see if they hold up.

The purpose of a framework is to create something that is reiterative. So, something that can stand as a structure and be reused again and again for different circumstances. When creating a framework, you want to think about scenarios that can be overwhelming/stressful/frustrating, and that happen repeatedly. A framework can help you become better equipped to handle these repeating situations. Some examples are:

  • When you’re being questioned about a Torah topic
  • Education framework – for choosing curriculum/books
  • Grieving framework – for seasons of grief/loss
  • And for today’s purpose, when issues, big or small, come up between friends/spouses/acquaintances – a relationship framework.

Often I would find myself agonizing over how to address something. Should I address it? If so, how? How do I ensure I act well while doing it and not cause more problems than already exist? Essentially, how do I act rightly in relation to the people around me? So today, in a similar fashion to Alex, I thought I would share with you what I have developed as my framework for dealing rightly with people. 

When an issue arises, before I act, this will serve as a good starting point. It will remind me of the values I hold and help me act out those values.

I am not claiming that I exercise these perfectly. In fact, many of these came to mind because I failed to do these, and problems arose. However, while putting this together, it solidified in my mind that I am passionate about learning how to do this. Learning how to act right, honest and true is one thing. But acting right, honest and true when the people around you are not, now that is a whole different animal.

These principles came from deep in my soul and are the collection of many Biblical wisdom principles, books I’ve read, and encounters I’ve had. I believe that mastery of these principles will change our conduct to honor Him and pave the way for true and meaningful relationships (which also honors Him). Lastly, as women, I think we are uniquely positioned to employ these principles. Women love people and relationships and communing. We play a huge role in how well relationships function or how they don’t. I hope they are helpful and serve as a starting point for you to create your own framework.


Framework for Dealing Rightly with People

  1. When a relationship is under stress, move toward it to reinforce it rather than away from it to avoid it.
  • It is an act of love to care enough to call out an awkward situation or a hurt that was caused. It is only through this act of love that a relationship can continue and bonds become forged.
  • Most of the time, moving toward an issue or potential issue makes it smaller and dissipates more quickly. Often, acknowledging something exists/happened is akin to resolving it.
  • Proverbs 27:6


  1. Conflict avoided is conflict magnified.
  • And if you choose to avoid it, there are inevitably additional problems created. When a difficult situation arises, we need to process it. This means you will talk it through with somebody. It is your responsibility to make sure it is the right person. It is very easy to slip into gossip/slander here. (Proverbs 25:9-10)
  • The further away you get from when the issue happened, the bigger the dragon becomes and the less likely you are to resolve it.


  1. A poorly executed attempt to move towards an issue is better than not doing it at all.
  • Forgiveness can be granted for imperfect attempts at resolution.
  • No forgiveness can be found if no attempt is made.


  1. If you can’t have an honest conversation, the relationship doesn’t exist anyways.
  • Being able to have short, frequent, honest conversations determine if a thing is real or not.
  • Many times we agonize over how to have a conversation best and decide not to do anything in order to ‘save’ the relationship. There is no saving a relationship by avoiding real issues.
  • Proverbs 28:23, 27:6


  1. Do not allow yourself to expend emotional energy until you have asked enough questions to clarify.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt. And then ask honest questions. People make mistakes without malicious intent all the time.
  • If you adopt this mode of being, it will incentivize quick resolution (Point #2) because it is NOT easy to reign in our emotions. It’s not fair or wise to get angry, bitter, resentful, sad, hurt, etc., without fully understanding the other person. Often times these BIG feelings are wasted because the perceived hurt was misunderstood or even non-existent.
  • Proverbs 11:12, 16:32, 18:13, 25:8, 25:28, 29:20


  1. Spend most of your time thinking through what you could have done differently/better. Start the conversation with that.
  • My house has to be in order before I attempt to change the world. The bulk of my pre-conversation thinking/praying needs to be on asking myself humble and honest questions about my part in it.
  • After you’ve done this thoroughly, make a list of specific questions/frustrations to communicate with the other party.
  • But the very first things out of your mouth in a difficult conversation need to be the result of your own self-examination as an expression of your own shortcomings. This applies even if you contributed only five percent to the problem. Bonus points if you have formulated a game plan for the future to avoid doing this again.
  • Proverbs 22:4


  1. Listen as if the other person knows something you do not.
  • It’s true. Even the vilest human being still knows something that you don’t.
  • This also lays a foundation of humility which a true conversation needs. Listening in this way opens the door for the other person to feel heard and valued, even if you disagree.
  • The fire can be taken out of most arguments by truly hearing what another person has to say and then clarifying exactly where the disagreement is. You don’t have to agree to resolve something. Clarity is better than agreement, so make clarity your aim.


  1. Commit to only saying things you know to be true.

Practicing this is way more difficult than it sounds. It does help weed out idle/unnecessary words (all of which we are accountable for).


  1. Don’t agree to something you don’t agree to.
  • Don’t be quick to agree. It’s okay to say, ‘let me think about how I feel about that.’ If you do this, however, it is your responsibility to circle back and make sure you communicate and resolve the issue.
  • It is far better to negotiate and agree on real terms (even if it takes longer) than to agree just to end a difficult conversation.
  • If/when you agree to something you don’t actually agree to, it is not the other party’s fault for believing you. Reach out to clarify if you find yourself in this position. Do the mental work of clarifying what you are truly okay with and then communicate that clearly. This is the work of having real relationships. (I suspect many marriages dissolve over time due to women tending towards agreeableness and pretending they are ‘fine’ when they are not.)


  1. There is a time to let little things go. But be careful to be honest with yourself if you are truly able to do this.
  • A good rule of thumb: if it’s two days after something happened and you were describing that person to someone who didn’t know them, are you honestly able to describe them favorably and fairly? This gives you an idea of whether you effectively let it go or if you still have a bad taste in your mouth. If you haven’t let it go in a true sense, it’s on you to deal with it head-on as soon as possible.
  • Proverbs 17:9


  1. When people do things, believe them.
  • This is a very Hebraic concept. What a person believes and how they act are not two separate things Hebraically. Only in our Greek minds do we think we can hold a belief out here and act without being motivated by that.
  • In other words, what people act out regularly is an accurate telling of who they are and what they believe. If their words don’t align with their actions, believe the actions.
  • Agreeable people tend to want to believe things about a person that are simply not acted out. It doesn’t serve anyone to excuse behavior and blindly believe what someone says.
  • “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” -Carl Jung


  1. An interpersonal issue is not resolved until all parties are satisfied.

This is actual verbiage that needs to be regularly used: ‘Is this situation truly resolved to your satisfaction?’ This is a different question than, ‘Do you want to be best friends now?’ or even, ‘Did this happen the way you would’ve liked it to?’

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If we practice these principles daily, many of the larger conflicts we are afraid of will be prevented. And when those bigger ones do come, you will have practice following the principles necessary to resolve it.

When I was compiling these and thinking about this, I realized that most of the tragic/heartbreaking parts of my childhood came to be because the people around me did not practice these principles. People got hurt. Maybe it was because they didn’t know these things or didn’t take the time to learn them and act them out. But it matters deeply that we do. What we do with people, how we handle each other, how we act out honesty – it all matters. 

My name is Rachel and I believe we are put here to have simple and abundant lives. I am 33, married, and a stay-at-home Momma to 4 under 7. I love my God- and I mean I really love my God. He is the source of all blessing in my life- something I try to remember daily. I believe that if we follow God’s ways and pursue His will on our knees, in our hearts, and through our actions that He will lead us to that simple, abundant life that we long for.