Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Soldier On, Cowgirl, In The Face Of Conflict

Sometimes being on this planet is so very hard.

Too many people with too many personalities and too many perspectives.

Some days feel good and I veritably skip through the day, linked arm in arm with God feeling like, "We got this, Lord."

Other's more like He's dragging me by the ankle as I slide along, face down in the dirt.

And the very things that felt so footloose and fancy free the day before are now an albatross around my neck.

Fellowship, friendship, kinship--whatever we call it--can be so rich and so fulfilling.

No one loves a good belly laugh with tears streaming down the cheeks more than I do.

I love being with someone whose company I enjoy, learning about and from each other.

And then the real world happens and conflicts arise and I spin in a circle trying to figure it all out.

I second guess myself and start and stop at least a half million times.

How do I handle this situation? How should I say this? How will they take it when I say that? Am I being selfish? Do I have all the pieces of the puzzle? Am I being Christ-like in my approach?

And it seems infinitely easier to just sweep it under the rug and try to forget about it...move on.

That works.

For a while.

And then I trip over that big issue that was swept under the rug and there is no avoiding it any longer.

So I remind myself of these things when I am in that predicament:

The battle is the Lord's: 1 Samuel 17:47.

That person/people aren't really the issue: Ephesians 6:12.

There are those who would like nothing more than to turn friend against friend, especially Believers who are friends. And I shouldn't be surprised when these disconnects and negative situations arise. Jesus gave explicit details on how to deal with it when it happens. Matthew 15 is loaded with step-by-step actions to take when there is a conflict among Believers. I struggle sometimes to remember that the way I react to something or someone can determine if the friendship is salvaged or not. I also remind myself to act toward someone in a way I would want someone to act toward me. If someone is wronging me, and I lash out, it will be 10 times harder to mend that relationship than if I act with grace. That's a toughy for me. And I have to remember that the enemy works both ways. He is an equal opportunity destroyer of relationships. While I may see the other party as in the wrong or acting ungodly, Satan is only too happy to paint the picture to the other person that I am in the wrong...or worse...I can jump in feet first, emotions flying and react in a way that is damaging and un-Christ-like. All without Satan's help. :(

And then I think: Prayer.

Prayer feels so feeble sometimes. But I know that is the best way to respond to any situation. Praying opens up communication to God that will open my eyes to the best method for handling any issue. I can also pray for God to soften the heart of the other person so that we can hear one another, without hurt feelings and defenses being raised. It can also work toward restoring someone who is struggling or falling away:

James 5:16, The MSG: "Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with."

So...if you're there right now...a conflict in whatever area of life, whether it's with someone else or within yourself...hold on. Hold fast to your faith and the Word and soldier on, cowgirl...

And "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." (Philippians 1:27. NIV).

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