Sunday, April 14, 2013

Learning to love in confrontation.

What is your first reaction when confronted justly or unjustly by someone? For most of my life, my reaction has been to defend my position. I have always felt very strongly that justice would be upheld, because truth would be found. The person who was right, would win that argument. But what happens when there is no clear right answer? What happens when no resolution can be met?
What does it mean, and how do we proceed in reacting like Christ would?
I have to admit that reacting this way has never brought me the best results other than broken relationships. There are times when it is easy to just give up and walk away, and then there are times that it isn’t so easy because it is a person we have to deal with day in and day out. A person we care and love deeply, where resolution needs to be made.
I do not have this all figured out, but through a situation in the church this last weekend, I have learned much. And through the wise words of my Pastor, I learned more. I had been sent a nasty email and had no idea how to respond. I began in defense of myself, telling my husband just how ridiculous the situation was. I began with defending my position, my personal life, and many other points beyond that. I did not begin in love. I did not begin in Christ.
Thankfully, wisdom spoke in my life and because I was not particularly emotional about the problem, I decided not to respond. I waited and prayed. I read Scripture. And prayed some more. I never emailed, never said anything in response.
I then went to my pastor with the problem. I began telling him how ridiculous it all was, yet again defending myself. Yet again attempting to prove I was right. And his response stopped me in my tracks, “I wonder what’s going on in his life. This just doesn’t seem like him.” Wha?????
We chatted for a few more minutes, then he had business he had to attend to. But I kept thinking about that sentence, and about that statement. It was not meant to convict my heart, but it did. It cut deeply, to the marrow, and sent me on a totally new course of reaction.
I still did not respond to the email. Instead, I prayed. I prayed that God would let me love this person. That God would give me the grace and mercy that constantly receive. And guess what? It happened. My heart let go of the defense, and in its place was love. There is no room for defense, hate, anger, and fear when love is in the heart and mind.
After thinking on this, praying and asking God to intercede, Sunday morning service came along. But I am not going to share the results of this prayer just yet. First, I wanted to share with you the notes that I wrote down after thinking about this some more. When confronted or attacked by someone, these are the steps that I will choose to take:
1.     Stop thinking about myself.
I know, it’s hard. But I had to remove my emotions, the control I sought, and myself from the situation. I had to stop and set myself apart to be able to see and pray clearly.
2.     Stop thinking in defense.
I am one of those people who take a conversation and roll it around in my head over and over again. What I should have said, what I would say in response, etc. This never helps me. It just makes me anxious and afraid. Stop doing this immediately!
3.     Start Praying.
Seek the Father’s heart. Ask God to indwell your heart, life, and mind. Ask Him to help you love this person. Pray God’s blessing upon them. Continue to do this until you begin feeling this for them.
4.     Communicate to that person that you recognize their need and their position.
Most the time, people just want to be heard. They just want their point, no matter how crazy, recognized as valid. This is important.
5.     Seek reconciliation without defending anything.
This may not be needed. To conclude the above story, this morning this person came and apologized to me. This person had been having a difficult couple weeks, and felt shame for what had happened. I was set free from the situation, completely! By the grace of God!
This happened only because I sought the Father’s heart first, instead of seeking my own defense, because God can move and work in people’s hearts and minds much better than I ever will be able to. When God’s will goes before, we can travel lightly and easily because His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Can I get an amen???
How can you think through the hurt and turn your heart and mind to Christ?

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