Thursday, June 12, 2014

When Iron Sharpens Iron

Alright ya'll, I'm about to break blogger code. Like, big time. I'm gonna talk about the C word...

Conflict. 

I know, I know. Accepting Jesus and becoming a born again Christian is supposed to eliminate any and all conflict from your life. And if you experience any teensy amount of it, it's a sign that you're doing it wrong. 

...


I hope you caught that heavy sarcasm. But in case you didn't, let's just say I'm doing it wrong. 

There's a lot going on in my life right now. Some really, really good things, and there's some really, really hard things. As my good friend Annie said, "good & hard usually come together, I think." 

I think she's right. 

***


When I heard that statement, I knew I had to write it down. I wrote it down months ago, and oh, does my people-pleasing, affirmation-desiring heart struggle with the thought of not being loved by everyone. 

But alas, now it's not as much a thought as a reality. And to be honest, it's okay. It's more than okay, it's got me reaching out to Jesus with all my might. It has me asking for faith that He is at work where I can't seem to find Him. It has me surrendering "me! me! me!" and the desire for everyone to love me, for "Him! Him! Him!", in hopes that that He may be glorified. 

I'm currently walking through a difficult season of engaging with someone who strongly dislikes me. It started out extremely painful for me, but with lots of prayers & help from the Lord, it's gotten easier. And I'm learning a lot. So today, I share. Because even though it's far from a pretty topic, I think it's something that needs to be discussed. 

How do we walk through conflict in a God-glorifying manner? 

I don't have it all figured out yet, but here's what I have learned: 

One // "Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone." Romans 12:18. 

My mom taught me that conflict takes two. I'm so, so thankful for that lesson. It's so easy to think "this is just their issue," and to some extent, that may be correct. But I really believe conflict originates with tension between 2 people. 

When there is conflict in your life, search the scenario for any reason that you may need to apologize. Forget about what they did, or how they acted. Focus on what you did, how you acted, if there is anything you could have done differently to show more love to this person. 

And if you find something? Own up to it. Apologize. If you can't find anything? I'm gonna go ahead and suggest asking the Lord for an extra dose of humility, and for help examining the situation through those eyes. He has a way of bringing things to light when we truly invite Him in to do so. 

If you find yourself apologizing, you can experience peace regardless of the outcome knowing that you are doing your best to resolve the conflict. 

Two // Know when to step back. 

I learned this one through the trial and error technique. (and error, and error, and error). 

I'm a fixer, a 'kill em with kindness' girl. You're mad at me? No problem, I'll just treat you extra nice until you forgive me. Cause it works that way, right? There's nothing a good forced hug can't fix. 

Wrong. Everyone is different, and while I'm a 'let's figure this out right now because my insides feel like they are a twisted up slinky' kinda gal, you might not be. You might need time, and I need to respect that. Or, maybe you don't need time, maybe you simply have decided you just don't like me. I need to respect that, too. 

Have you done all that you can to live in peace? Is there still conflict? Know when to step back. 

Three // Learn to listen without defending. 

Boy, do I struggle with this. I'm a defensive person by nature (working on it). I'll listen to you, but I want to have my turn to come to my own defense afterwards. 

God has so graciously been sorting through that with me. He's helping me see the damage that defensive behavior can have, and really, why is it necessary when we have a God who defends us? 

Letting that really sink in has helped me to let go of my defensive tendencies. It helps me really listen, and generally if someone's upset, they want to be heard. 

Four // Filter what's being said about you. 

If I'm being honest, in the last couple days, I've had some extremely hurtful things said about me. And considering the good work it's doing, I'm actually okay with that! I'm learning to consider the source

How well does this person know me? Take the complaints made against you to others who know you well; verify their truth before you take it to heart. Pray about it, ask God to reveal validity in anything said. 

If something is said that simply isn't true or isn't applicable, let it go. Don't be angry, don't be bitter, just let it go. It can be hard, I know. But trust me when I say that with Him, it's possible. 

Five // Be cautious of gossip. 

It's good to seek counsel during times of conflict, Lord knows I've got about a dozen regular people I go to for prayer/advice. But there is a very fine line between seeking wisdom on a matter, and venting/complaining/gossiping. Be aware of that; make sure your words are bringing life to the already difficult situation, and not death. 

{This is another one that I learned from trial and error and error and error and error.}

Six // Remember where your identity lies. 

People pleasing is a symptom of fear of man. Wanting to be liked by everyone? Yupp, fear of man again. 

We are not called to fear man, we're called to fear God. He loves you so, so, so, so, so much. Remember that. That's where your identity lies, that's where your worth and value lie. And the way He feels about you? That will never, ever change. 

Seven // Love. 

"Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

Love will win every. single. time. 

I'm not saying run up and love on the person every time you see them (see number 2). They don't have to know that you're loving on them, but you will. Love them in your thoughts. Love them in your words to others. Love them in your prayers. Love them so the enemy doesn't win with the bitterness he wants you to feel instead. 

Just plain love them, even when it's hard. And if you don't think you can? Ask Jesus to help you. I promise you He will. 

***

So there you have it folks, seven things I've learned in this instance of conflict. If you have conflict going on in your life, know that God not only can use it, He wants to. He's awesome like that. 

3 comments:

The Pink Growl said...

I wish I could have read this post last week. I had a conflict with a very best friend. Looking back I may not (ok definitely didn't) handle things the best way. Conflict is a difficult one for me, I find myself reverting back to old habits when a big conflict puts me out of my comfort zone. Great post girl!

Shannon Q. said...

Wow, resinated with this very much...there is a lot of wisdom here.

Chelle said...

You're amazing Miss Amy :)