Last week, I read something from someone close to me on social media [that was a jab at me] that really made me tick. Have you ever been in a situation where you’re so upset or so frazzled, your whole body starts shaking and all you see is red? Wow. I hadn’t experienced that in about 5-6 years so it was scary being in that place again.

Previously, being none the wiser I’d vent out, swear, argue, shout…Do just about everything and anything to let the person/people know who’ve offended me, know all too well I was darn offended! And boy, I didn’t hold back either! My mouth was real rotten then…to the point when the words left my mouth I was like, did I really just say that?!

Fast forward to now and when I read the post online, I was angry, no doubt, but I was also very sad. I wanted to let this person know I was sad, so I texted them in the heat of the moment something along the lines of “carry on, I’ve tried.” Not malicious, but obviously very apathetic which didn’t help the situation to be honest. I’ve entered a period of 21 days fasting and prayer and after a good week, I was waiting for the challenge, and here it is! How do I deal with this person who is so hard to love at times?!

I told my husband what this person had said, and said I wanted to confront them. But resolution was not on my mind at the moment, and as he rightly said: “what will that accomplish? Breathe, take a step back and be rational about this.” “Be rational?! I don’t want to be rational right now! I wanna vent!” was my response. And to that Daras simply replied “Woah you don’t want to be rational, that’s a bit of an insult to yourself don’t you think?! You’re better than that!” And in that moment I thought, oh my goodness. This is exactly what Satan wants. He wants me to be mad and upset. Oh no oh no! #NotTodaySatan.

I reached for my Bible and looked up scriptures on anger, while praying and repenting for such an awful reaction to this situation. I knew better and I am better. I instantly remembered in Ephesians 4:26. Paul says: “In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you’re angry.” I’ve bolded do not sin. We’re allowed to get angry and frustrated, but don’t sin. A sin is simply anything that goes against God and causes separation from you and Him. Me raging and ranting does not bring me in unity with God, nor does hurling insults or throwing indirects back either. Don’t wrong others because you’ve been wronged. Don’t be spiteful or rude because you’ve been treated that way. 1 Peter 3:9: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” That’s the challenge! And boy, it is a challenge. It hurts 10 times more when it’s someone you love, which is why I instantly wanted to throw a reaction.

So, in the moment, I reacted emotionally and I didn’t want my feelings to lead me down the path that I was once on. I know I’ll never be perfect, but I wanted to be in control of my emotions at all times, even when they are tested to the utmost limit! I had a sudden outburst of rage and that twist in your tummy when you’re really mad and want the world to know! Yes, congratulate me on not fighting back and retaliating, but the fact that I had the urge to wound and even thought of saying some mean things, isn’t cool. I wanted to get to the point where I didn’t need to immediately vent, and if I did, it would be in prayer and not to incur hurt to another person, and basically just joyfully pass this test. I knew this wouldn’t be the last offence I’ll experience, so I wanted to learn how to grow from it and be better. I’m glad I shortly after this realisation of how my actions could make the situation worse, I managed to withdraw and grow close to God.

The book of Job will forever remain one of my favourites. A man so faithful to God had literally everything stripped off him bit by bit. From food, to clothes, to family and to shelter…yet here he is still praising God in the midst of all everything life has to throw at him! Even His wife was like “yo babe, just curse God init and let’s call it a day!” (Not quite in those words but more like Job 2:9, but definitely on the same lines if it were in modern days! I digress…) and so in the midst of this challenge with my loved one, I’m thinking, if Job can press on and still thank God, so can I! And I have the power to bring peace and restoration into this situation, (although to be honest my first reaction was to “block and delete”). I knew in the long run it wouldn’t be the right decision if I wanted conflict resolution. The Bible encourages us to take every thought captive! (2 Corinthians 10:5) So it’s literally kidnapping every single thought, especially the negative ones and aligning them with God’s word. Is me being begrudging, bitter and rebellious a sign of being a child of God? Nope. Is holding feelings of resentment and malice a sign of being a child of God? Again, nope. So I got my big boots on, and actually started drafting this blog entry pretty much immediately after the incident, praying and reading God’s word and asking advice from trusted people who I glean from.

I’m very close with my mama-in-law and really inspired by her experiences so I asked her how she deals with people who can be so hard to love, and move on to forgiveness and reconciliation. In summary, she gave me 4 steps to walk through which are hard, but so so helpful:

 

  1. Learn to empathise
    Take into consideration the hardships certain people have had to endure, and how it could affect their actions and behaviour. I hadn’t even considered how much of a rough time this individual was going through. Granted, it’s not an excuse, but definitely gives context to their actions. Has someone who’s offended you recently gone through a rough time? Lost a job, gone through a difficult breakup, sick? Struggling financially? There could be a million and one reasons, and once we grasp their perspective, our reaction shifts. I was suddenly moved with compassion and felt almost saddened that my initial reaction was to clap back (take the girl out the ghetto, but you’ll never take the ghetto out the girl!). But as the days went on, all I wanted to do was just pray for them and love them!
  2. Eat a slice of humble pie and say sorry (even if you think you have done nothing wrong!)
    This one is so challenging. But, two wrongs never make a right! If you’re coming from the perspective of “I want peace at all costs!” then this is the gate to it. It’s so easy to shift blame and hurt when you’re clouded by your emotions and refuse to see that person as a human being, with flaws and grievances…just like YOU! Even if you believe you’re in the right this instance, have you always been right?! Apologise if your actions may have been perceived wrong, apologise that you’ve both gotten into this situation, apologise that they’re sad and in turn, you’re sad too. Whatever reason you decide to give yourself, you need to suck up the confidence to say the s word, (the good s word!)
  3. Find a way to reconcile which will get you off on the right leg again:
    It’s so easy to have a phone conversation, say your sorry’s and call it a day. How about extending an offer of meeting up? Just to solidify your re-connection. Granted, it could be hard if it’s long distance but do try and at least make the effort to extend the invitation! A real sense of renewal and real feeling of moving forward is definitely on the cards!
  4. Leave your [partner/mum/dad /best friend/insert other important person in your life] out of it and face it on your own:
    So, I had to really chew this. I tell Daras everything. Like, everything. Not out of gossip, but that’s just how we are. We’ve intertwined our lives to the point we just know each other like the back of our hand. And, I rely on Daras’ wisdom and advice 90% of the time for struggles in my daily life! So, to have a disagreement with someone and keep hubby out of it, was a tough pill to swallow…just like penicillin, honestly! Moving on, in situations where you know a disagreement can be amicably resolved in a few moments maturely, it only exasperates the issue to involve another party as they may feel like they’re playing piggy in the middle and form an unconscious bias which doesn’t do you or the other party any favours! It also comes across quite immature if you can’t square up to your offender to solve what could be:
    a) a simple misunderstanding
    b) a disagreement or a conflict of two opinions.
    Additionally, leaving a third party out of the beef is especially true with conflict between spouses. – married ladies, this is for you! There’s no point in getting someone else involved when chances are, you could solve it between yourselves through proper communication and patience. However, I believe there are exceptions to this which I’ll touch on later…
  5. [My bonus step that I learned last week wooo!] Have a code word that helps you refocus, calm down and react in love.
    When hubby and I are exchanging words and I can see it’s getting a bit heated, our code word is The Cross! That instantly makes me think about Jesus’ sacrifice and His blood scarred hands for me. Additionally, I get a visual image of my name in the palm of his hand and Daras’ name next to it. And I instantly remember we’re on the same team, Jesus died for me and him and everyone else for that matter! I’ve actually now extended this to whoever else tests my patience! Thinking about Jesus and his sacrifice just puts everything into perspective and in the grand scheme of things, it’s not worth being so horrible for a moment of wanting to feel vindicated…it never works and it interrupts your peace, big time!
And on the topic of peace, The Bible talks a lot about peace. In Hebrews 12:14 it says: “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (NKJV).‬‬ Whether you believe it or not, we ALL have the ability to bring peace, to be the light, to love people and to take the lead in reconciliation. Truth is, reconciliation and forgiveness does more for YOU than it does the offended party. I don’t know about you, but when I hold grudges in my heart, I get so upset and I’m probably not much fun to be around. It makes my relationships with other people suffer because my mind is cluttered with hurt. Enter “the root of bitterness” we see Paul talking about in the above scripture, and that’s an awful thing to possess! I don’t want any business with that, (or as I’ll say, miss me with that please!) But when I let go of those feelings, seek peace and try and resolve things even though my flesh is screaming “oh heck no! Think about x, y and z!” I just shrug it off, move forward and do whatever I need to do to reconnect with said person. And then, I literally feel like a massive weight has been lifted from my heart and I have a fresh perspective and everyone’s happy! (Especially hubby…after all, happy wife, happy life!)
Now, don’t get me wrong, conflicts come in all shapes and sizes and this isn’t a one size fits all approach. There are times when people just hurt, hurt and oh yeah…hurt! You dance around the I’m sorry’s and do all of the above, but before you know, it you’re back there again. I’ve experienced this too and after the last incident with someone very recently, I scratched my head to really think why does this keep happening?!
I realised there was only a problem if I asked for clarification or an explanation of their actions. Not instigating an argument, just a question! I’m a curious cat and I like to think about things critically instead of jumping to conclusions. In this instance, I just wanted to understand, put feelings of uncertainty to bed and move on. I realised the person I was dealing with refuses to see how their actions can be interpreted from another point of view, and never ever feels like they’ve wronged me, that it’s all in my head and then….queue in a million and one insults and to add the cherry on top, a reference from an argument we had like, a million years ago! At that point, it’s like being stuck between a rock and a hard place, and borderline abuse if I’m honest! No one likes to be insulted, or to always feel like a burden/problem towards someone else. The truth which I had to digest is…I won’t win the love of everyone. None of us will. And as much as it hurts, it’s okay to love people from a distance, by limiting your interaction with them but earnestly praying for a resolution behind the scenes. Your peace is paramount and discord and chaos does nobody good. In this instance, I believe it’s appropriate to get another party involved to act as a mediator, ideally someone neutral like a leader of some sort, failing that a mature person you trust in which you can both give your accounts of events in the hopes of resolution. Unfortunately, this may take time and can be a frustrating process, but this is what seeking peace at all costs looks like!

As with me, I pray that you find ways of reconciliation, forgiveness with those who’ve wronged you and rejoice with overcoming conflict with grace and perseverance! And that we truly take joy in finding peace with others at all times, especially the times we feel like throwing in the towel! Here are a couple of verses I’ve meditated and memorised in times of conflict:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” ‭‭(John‬ ‭13:34‬ ‭NKJV)

“Do not let mercy and kindness and truth leave you [instead let these qualities define you]; Bind them [securely] around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:3-4‬ ‭AMP‬)

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”‭‭ (Romans‬ ‭5:3-5‬ ‭NKJV)
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