Hello beautiful people!
I hope that this post finds you having had some time to enjoy the warm weather, bask in the sunshine, and enjoy some gorgeous sunsets. But while you are enjoying your pineapple snowball with vanilla ice cream (or maybe that’s projection/wishful thinking), I’m going to talk about my experiences dealing with conflict as a Christian–with friends, with family, and in the workplace.
A lot of people, Christians included, feel that the moment that they accept Christ into their life, drama subsides. Flowers bloom in the meadows of our imagination, bunnies scamper to and fro, and all is right with the world, so when conflict happens, as it inevitably will, we feel taken aback.
“Lord! This wasn’t supposed to happen to me…was it?”
It was, though. Sometimes, the way we handle these types of situations says more about our faith than any church service invite, cross necklace, or well placed hallelujah ever could. People are watching to see how we react, how we move forward, and how we resolve the situation.
I recently went through a situation of my own at work…a parent was unhappy about one of the decisions I’d made for his child and decided to let me know–loudly and profanely–outside—in front of other students. Sigh. I wouldn’t be transparent NOR staying true to my goal of honesty always if I didn’t tell you that I saw red and wanted to return the favor and hurt this parent like he hurt me. I can’t promise that the Christian in you won’t want to hop into the backseat and deal with things the worldly way that we know how, just as I can’t promise you that no one will ever make you mad when you start to walk with God, but I can promise you that the Word provides examples of how we as believers ought to behave when the world does us wrong. I am sure that all of us beyond a certain age bracket remember those catchy, DayGlo colored bracelets that Christian kids and young adults wore back in the day (and by the day, I mean the 90s):
I had a keychain and a binder and a shirt and a…….
We prided ourselves on carefully considering what Jesus would do before reacting in a given situation (and gleefully reminding others how we prided ourselves on this lol), and so my question, especially these past week or so, has been a modification of this
Not What Would Jesus Do, but HWJD–How Would Jesus Deal?
What Jesus would do is kind of a no-brainer right? He would forgive. He would overlook offense (Proverbs 19:11). I don’t know about you, but when I am going through things with somebody, I NEED practical, doable steps that will ease my heart and handle the mess without compromising my soul. I need to know how to deal.
Step One: Pray FIRST
A large portion of the time, our first reaction when someone has wronged us is either to find the nearest sympathetic ear and blast it with all of the gory details or else to clam up and simmer low and slow about the indignities that we have suffered. It’s not easy, but before we do anything else of record, our first move should be to go to God in prayer? Why?
- Because it is God’s greatest desire to advocate for us
- Because left to our own devices, we might do something that wouldn’t honor Him
- Because someone prayed for us when we were at our most unloveable.
Psalm 34:17 says that when the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers. What does He deliver, you may ask? The simple act of prayer is calming, first–I can’t tell you how many regrettable things I haven’t said because I closed my eyes and simply said Lord, I can’t. Also, the simple act of going to God in prayer communicates our trust that His reactions are better. Praying first symbolizes that we are receptive to what God wants us to do rather than charging in, guns blazing.
We see evidence in Luke 6 of Jesus even taking the time to pray before making a decision. Jesus prayed all night before choosing His disciples–and these weren’t just his homies, but the men that He poured into, that He taught, healed, and ministered beside, and that eventually honored Him at His lowest. Surely we can then pray for how to proceed with the big and small things then, right?
Step Two: Consult Wise Counsel
Proverbs 10: 13 says that wide words come from the lips of those with understanding!! It is so crucial to have people in your life to talk to when things go awry. Now listen to me, I didn’t say that it was important to have people to gossip to, or even to vent to without the ultimate goal of finding solutions to the problem. That’s why it is sooo important to have some folks around you that not only know and love you, but know and love God first. We have all had that friend in the past ( and some of us may still have them–no shade thrown) whose first way of handling a problem or tell you to handle it IS to fly OFF the handle. While a good old fashioned freak-out might feel fun on the surface temporarily, it won’t feel good to your spirit in the long run. Also, Romans 14:21 says not to do anything that will cause your brother to stumble. We are a reflection of the Most High….and if they (friends, coworkers, family) see you acting impulsively, what kind of representation are we?
With this parent at work, I admit that I was too shaken up to even think straight enough to pray…all I could get out was “God…” before the tears came. But the next best thing happened: a coworker prayed for me! She’d followed me into the bathroom sensing that I’d be hurt, rubbed my back and interceded on my behalf and when I tell you the tears stopped falling, my breathing slowed down and I could reason again. Approaching someone for advice who wasn’t connected to Godly peace would’ve left me with “solutions” that really did no more than exacerbate the problem. Say some of those things back. Call someone to strike fear into his heart. Refuse to even acknowledge his presence. And I can’t even lie and say that my flesh wouldn’t have liked anything more, but I sensed even then that people were watching to see how I’d react. I make no secret of the fact that I love God and try my best to live according to His will for my life. I run around this place with invite cards and spend most mornings blasting worship music as I get ready for my day, so I know that the devil would have liked nothing more than to put me in a situation that tempted me to lose it just to see if I would.
After I got myself together, I knew I had to talk to my mom. She is always my first source of wise counsel, because though I know she loves me to pieces and wants to see me come out of every situation well taken care of, she knows how important my faith is to me and desires to see me live that out.
Step Three: Go With Peace
God confirms his will through His word, His people, and His peace. Back in the day when I found it my duty to drive my mother crazy in all of my teenaged mouthiness, I would always hear her singing one particular song after I exasperated her to her breaking point and got sent away. The song is by Donnie McClurkin and one lyric in particular says “what do you do when you’ve done all you can and it seems like you can’t make it through? Child, you just stand.” God will give you a word that you can’t ignore and the peace and calm that follows is a sure indication of what to do next. For some situations and people, that might involve a conversation with them that isn’t petty or insulting but that makes it clear that you were hurt. For other situations and people, that may just be God saying to let it ride. Again: you’ll know when it is from God. In my case, I felt God saying that I wasn’t going to get past what happened until I approached this parent myself. Once I made that decision, I literally felt weight lift off of me, and sure enough, talking to that parent in a way that was GOD ORDAINED left me with an apology that surprised everyone around me–and a sense of such joy! I did it! I handled myself in a way that God would be proud off–but the best part is that I didn’t actually do it. God lives in me…and He lives in you too.
Philippians 4:7 says that the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. There is absolutely nothing like the peace of God.
For anyone going through something, I hope this helps. As always, I want my experiences to be your map, and if I’ve forgotten anything that you feel is important, hit me up and let me know. Remember, you ARE made in His image. A little bit of conflict doesn’t change that.