Relationships are messy because people are messy. Show me one person that has it all together and I'll show you someone in denial. I only know this from personal experience. Selfishness, pride, insecurity wreck me on a pretty regular basis.
Lamentations 3:19-23 rings profoundly in my ears these days. "I will remember and my soul is downcast with in me" resonates as I remember my life without Jesus' grace. When that passage comes to my mind I almost hunch over in deep yearning with a downcast soul, and then the Holy Spirit brings His sweet reminder: "YET...this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed. His mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Whew. That passage gets me right in my guts. The longing to know his new mercies so that I don't focus on my failures wells up within me and spills over through tears and sighs of relief.
I used to agonize when my past would come to mind. Lately, I choose to take those thoughts captive and use them as a reminder of God's grace in my life. He also uses the daily facts of imperfection in my life to teach me to love people. It is no secret that I can be impatient. I can be insecure. I can be stubborn. I can be vengeful. I can be judgmental. I can be downright unloving. So, when conflict arises (and it does for all of us if we are honest) I face the choice to respond in my flesh, hold grudges, and leave conflict unresolved. Or, I can choose to live by the Spirit and deny the desires of my old nature.
I bring all of this up because another verse has also been swirling around in my heart. Romans 12:18 "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." I'm often convicted in the realization that I've forgotten that his mercies are new to me every single morning, yet I withhold mercies towards others because of difficulties that divide and because of pride in my heart.
Being in women's ministry, I've heard plenty of relational conflict situations. Some are massive and will take years to overcome. To be honest, some of our conflicts aren't massive, but misunderstandings and drama in our hearts make it massive. Let me encourage you, as far as it depends on you...
- Make amends with those you can.
- If you know someone has something against you, call them, get coffee, and have a real conversation. Be specific, especially if you know how they are hurt. Discuss and apologize when necessary. Don't hide behind the excuse of "I didn't mean to hurt you." I sometimes bump into people in the grocery store. I never turn to them and say, "Well, I didn't mean to!" I say, "Oh excuse me. I'm sorry." Just because we didn't mean to hurt someone, doesn't mean that they aren't hurt.
- Don't talk about the relational conflict with others. If you have a trusted mentor or confidant, talk about ways you can make the situation right, but not how your conflict partner is a jerk and completely wrong.
- Ask God to teach you to extend a speck of the grace towards others that he's extended towards you.
- Realize that not all situations will be solvable. The verse says as far as it depends on you, make every effort which implies that sometimes it won't depend on you. Sometimes some people don't care to have peace in relationships.
- Don't hold grudges. Get over it. Believe the best in people instead of choosing to think a person intentionally hurt you.
Taking it all back to Lamentations... "I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness, and the gall. I will remember and my soul is downcast within me. YET this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed. His mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." If He will do that for me, far be from me to deny new mercies for people in my life. I pray that I will live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on me. What about you?