I love conflict!

ID-100122418Just thought I’d get your attention! Seriously though, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say that they hate conflict when in the midst of a struggle.  It’s often a statement which is actually saying, “I don’t want to get involved.” Who likes conflict? There are certainly people who like to shout their opinions or goad you into a verbal debate, but most of us are not wired that way, or shouldn’t be—especially professing born-again believers!

Conflict. Resolution. How do you get from one to the other? What I have learned…

Scenario:

  1. Party A does or says something that offends, riles, aggravates, disturbs Party B
  2. Party B REACTS by becoming angry, cynical, nasty, rude, quiet
  3. Party A then REACTS against Party B’s reactions. In J. Allan Peterson’s booklet Your Reactions are Showing, he says, “We may at any given moment pride ourselves on right actions and yet be reacting with jealousy, or resentment, or anger, or hatred, or fear or self-pity. To react in one or several of these ways when things do not please us will be very harmful to us.”

Poor reactions are the sand that stops the engine of resolution from working properly. Wrong reactions take the focus away from the real issues and add more conflict. So, before the original problem can be resolved, the reactions must be dealt with. The problem is that the reactions are showing deeper character issues. Peterson explains, “Were a person to watch my actions, he would not really know me. My actions would not reveal to him what I really am, because my actions might be planned and practiced for his benefit. But is it our reactions – our spontaneous, unconscious, unscheduled reactions – that reveal what we really are.” OUCH!!!

If, in the above scenario, all the reactions could be peeled away, the real issue could then be dealt with. It may be as simple as a miscommunication or misunderstanding. Perhaps, Party A didn’t realize how important the issue was to Party B. In a situation where a mom is cleaning out a child’s closet after repeated warnings, she may throw out all the “junk” and feel satisfied with a job well done.  However, when Junior comes home and finds that all his “treasures” are now in the trash, we have a conflict. A wife who makes a purchase that seems extravagant to her husband, a sister who twits her sister about her looks in front of other teens, a teacher who calls down a student for a wrong answer—all these are potential conflicts with added out-of-control reactions depending upon what is in the heart of each person involved.

Solving conflict is a part of every relationship and the methods of resolution are as varied as the people involved in those relationships, but several things are absolutely necessary for any conflict to move into resolution:

  1. LOVEAnd now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13 emphasis added). We quote this verse so often, but do you see what it is saying? Love is greater than faith?! How can that be? Love is greater than hope?! I want to “chew” on that a little more, but I’ll try to stay focused! The point is that love is the greatest thing, for out of it comes all the other necessary ingredients:
  2. TRUST—stepping out on a limb for the sake of the one you love and giving them the benefit of doubt. It is so crucial in every relationship.
  3. FORGIVENESS—When those ugly words fly and open old wounds, can you forgive? When the only response you can muster is, “How could you?” and the hurt goes to the core of your being, can you forgive? When it happens over and over again, can you forgive?
  4. CONVERSATION—talk, talk, talk! But be sure to keep the law of kindness in your tongue! That is SO hard to do, but it is possible by the grace of God! Sometimes a little space is needed to cool our jets, but when the motor of self-justification has cooled and the reactions are once again under control, talk… and LISTEN—you need both to call it communication.
  5. CHANGE—Conflict happens to teach us to change. “No man or company of men, no power in earth or heaven, can touch that soul which is abiding in Christ, without first passing through Him [God], and receiving the seal of His permission.1” Nothing catches our loving heavenly Father by surprise. Can you accept the conflict as a tool from your Father’s hand to help you to grow in His likeness?

We can learn so much from our Savior and His ultimate conflict on the cross.

  1. He never complained
  2. He went willingly
  3. He was humbled, thinking only of us and making a way to resolve our greatest conflict!

Looking at the cross always puts every conflict of life back into a right perspective!

So, press on, dear reader. Conflict is a part of life. We all hate it, but resolution is so sweet! It is true—making up is almost, ALMOST, worth the fight! 🙂

1The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, Hannah Whithall Smith (p,41)

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Twenty-five Acts of Love

This Valentine’s Day, I honor my husband and his love for me.  We’ve been married for nearly thirty-four years, and there have been times that I doubted his love—not because he didn’t show it, but because of my actions during our dating years.  To cut to the chase—that’s exactly what I did—I chased him.  I often joke that it took a while, but he finally slowed down and I caught him!

Humor aside, it’s always better for the girl if she is chased; that way she knows that he really wanted her!  For years, that doubt lingered in the back of my mind no matter how much Tom showered me with his love.  I’m not exactly sure when the turning point came.  I don’t believe it was a sudden thing.  It’s like watching for a flower to appear.  We see the bud, we watch it get bigger, and then one day we look at it and it has opened its bloom!

Now the doubts are gone, and here are just a few spontaneous reasons whyI KNOW he loves me!

  1. He greets me every morning with a smile.
  2. He makes my breakfast and packs my lunch on the days that I need to substitute teach.
  3. He helps me around the house.
  4. He faithfully prays with me and for me.
  5. He reads the Bible to me.
  6. He takes me on dates and really makes them special.
  7. He makes me cards. (It’s part of his frugal way to really dread spending money on cards, and love him for it!:))
  8. He wants to spend time with me.
  9. He watches over my spiritual and physical well-being.
  10. He supports me in my writing adventure.
  11. He listens to me and takes my suggestions.
  12. He will make the effort to change when something is bothering me, if he feels it is of the Lord. (Do you know what I mean by that? In other words, there are times when I may not like something, but after prayer and consideration, we realize that its ME and not him!)
  13. He sharpens me, encouraging me to be my best for God.
  14. He does the finances and is preparing for our future.
  15. He sings with me.
  16. He plays games with me, even when I know he may not want to!
  17. He is patient with me when I’m emotional.
  18. He loves me when I’m unlovely.
  19. He has really works on “thinking no evil” about me and putting the best spin on my hard-to-understand actions!
  20. He gives his best at improving our relationship at every level.
  21. He works hard at his end of this partnership called marriage.
  22. He talks to me.
  23. He listens!! 🙂
  24. He’s not afraid to criticize me when he knows it is for my own good, even when, sad to say, he knows that I may not react the best!
  25. He always tries to look his best!

Dear reader, if you have a spouse, I challenge you to take the time to make your own list.  I’m not sure that there is anything apart from prayer and improving your own actions that you could do for your relationship!  Love, it comes in all shapes and sizes—embrace each one, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Say “I Love You”

ID-10014180On this special day, our thoughts are on love, and how we can show our loved ones that they are special to us.  Probably the simplest way is just to say it; however, sometimes we hesitate to say those words.  On the other hand, can we say them too much?  Our family has been accused of that, because our children, now grown and out or on their way out 🙂 of the house, often end our phone conversations by saying, “I love you.”  I always thrill to hear those words!!!

Ron Hamilton captures a wonderful truth about love in his song, Say “I Love You.”

Moments quickly pass, and our loved ones soon are gone;

Thoughts of love we feel reach the heart but not the tongue.

Words we speak in anger tumble out and bring regret;

Words of love are often never said.

 

Life is but a vapor, quickly vanishing away;

Wait until tomorrow and your chance may flee away.

Give a fragrant flower while its beauty still can charm;

Give a kiss to warm the longing heart.

 

Say “I love you,” while the heart can feel;

Say “I love you” while the hurt can heal.

Make a heart rejoice, give your love a voice;

Speak the words while you can say, “I love you.”

Thoughts of love–do you remember those first days when you realized that he was the one?  Do you remember the thrill that went through you when he walked into the room?  Do you remember how your thoughts were constantly on him: What’s he doing now?  I wonder if he’s thinking of me?  Oh, he’d love that card!  Should I give him a call?

It takes time, effort, forgiveness and a whole lot of love to keep thoughts of love in a marriage, but it is possible!!  If you are blessed to have a husband who still kisses you good night, thank God.  As the song says, “Life is but a vapor, quickly vanishing away.”  At the risk of sounding like an old geezer (if you must know I AM ONLY 54!), life does pass quickly!  And how are we living it?  Are there relationships that need to be mended?  Do your part to MEND THEM.  Are there words that need to be said?  SAY THEM!  Are there words that shouldn’t be said?  DON’T SAY THEM! Are there people you should visit, or a letter you should write, or a cake that should be baked and taken to a neighbor,  or a child to be hugged?  Take the Nike challenge:  JUST DO IT!  Life is too short to keep putting it off.

Once again, I quote my favorite movie: Ever After.  At the very end, the descendant of Cinderella who is telling the story (you might want to check out my blog: “I WILL NOT YIELD” for more lessons from that movie), ends by saying something like: “And it’s not that they lived happily ever after, but that they lived!”

Live, and let love live in your heart and life; and in so doing, you let God live in your heart and life, because…

“God is love.” 1 John 4:8

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Oh, that smile!!

Let me tell you about my grandson, Connor!  When he sees me, his whole face lights up.  That smile is enough to make the worst day a whole lot better.  How does it make me feel?  Loved.  I don’t know if Connor, at thirteen months even knows what love is, but he shows it in his smile.  And then, to put the icing on the cake, he sometimes reaches for me and wants me to hold him.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

I used to think grandparents were just saying that stuff because they were supposed to; I mean, who wants to be a reject gramma!  Now, I understand.

So much of life is that way – we just can’t understand until we get there.  As much as we “think” we understand, we really don’t; and it’s okay because we CAN’T understand until we get there. (That was a thought within a thought :?)

I wonder, does my face light up like that for my heavenly father?  Does He feel loved because my face shines whenever I think of Him?  Today, I was over in the church basement by myself getting ready for tomorrow.  I find myself chatting with God!  If anyone ever comes in, it would be really embarrassing, but it just seems to happen when I’m over there, at His house!

Sometimes, it happens while I’m reading His Word or talking to Him in prayer.  In my heart, my arms reach out, wanting Him to hold me, and He does.  “Safe in the arms of Jesus!”

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

I heard the phrase “satisfied sanctification” today, and I’m not really sure what it means, but it doesn’t seem to fit together right.  Can we ever be satisfied with our sanctification until we see Him face to face and that nasty stuff called our sin nature is once and for all ratified?  I don’t think so. (that falls into the thought within the thought – we CAN’T understand it.)

Well, as you can see, this is a little rambling this evening.  Just some thoughts, hoping that your walk with Jesus is putting a smile on your face, God’s face, and everyone else that’s looking! 🙂