That Christ never beat down a woman with harsh words or lusting eyes or sneering innuendos, but He stepped in and stopped a broken woman from the abuse of angry men. Christ came to the defense of a hurting woman and the Son of Man stood between her ache and her attackers and He lifted the weight of shame from her and cupped her heart with hope and wrote a new future into the dust and dirt of everything and he saved. her. life. That’s how God loves His daughters… with His defense. That Christ didn’t degrade women in His talk, but He made women heroes in His stories. He invited a woman with a coin and broom to reveal the truth about the Kingdom of God. He honored an intentional woman with an unjust judge as unveiling the character of God. He elevated a lonely, unmarried woman who dropped her meager resources into the temple treasury as the rebuke of God for all the rich and religious. That’s how God loves His daughters with His words. That Christ didn’t demonize women but He accepted the presence of a woman reviled by the self-righteous, He sat with the scandalous woman the righteous regarded as damaged goods, He welcomed the rejected and the immodest though he lost the respect of the religious. That’s how God loves His daughter with His grace.” ~ Ann Voskamp
I read that yesterday… and I said, “Wow. Hhhhmmmmm. I need to post that.”
Do we have a place and a purpose and a role in big ways and small? Are women the “weaker” vessel ? We may have limitations to our physical strength and perhaps we can be emotional. But do our differences make us less important or somehow not as useful? In 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 we are told, “Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. ”
It seems pretty clear to me that none of us is better than another…that we are all important and needed. And we are not just supposed to recognize that, but we are supposed to rejoice about it! We are called to live together as One. In celebration for our role…no matter how insignificant it may appear, how unglamorous in comparison. We are not to envy but to encourage. We are not to look down on but to say with sincerity, “thank you for what you do. Without you we would not be complete.”
We are called to live in peace together.
“Be at peace with each other.” Mark 9:50
“Live in harmony with one another.” Romans 12:16
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9
The next chapter…Chapter 10…. 14 Secrets to Better Relationships…. Make Peace.
The quote by Ann Voskamp was sent to me by a friend. She, like many people who I know, has not led a life filled with peace. Too many people have first hand knowledge of broken relationships and the animosity and bitterness and continuous turmoil caused when there is no peace. Sadly, people are in all kinds of broken relationships…married; divorced,”friends” and “frenimies”; members of dysfunctional families; workplace problems; church problems. Just about anyplace there are two people there is the potential for conflict.
Ususally our ways of resolving conflict do not bring us the results we want. Our fights and misunderstandings and hurt feelings drive wedges, sometimes so deeply that the fracture caused is almost beyond repair.
Screaming and cussing and name calling and foot stomping and blaming is not going to make a person want to draw near. Crossed arms, the silent treatment, walking away and days of “punishment” in the form of coldness is NOT going to solve problems. Then there is always the possibility that unresolved conflict will cause a massive pressure that at the next littlest thing will cause a massive explosion and BLOW! With the eruption comes all of the past perceived hurts and misdeeds and shortcoming… anger…screaming and crying or silence and brooding. The other person is not hearing us! Or the other person should KNOW! Should be able to read my mind and know through ESP what I am thinking and feeling.
Dave Early says, “Conflict is inevitable…We are different. We have unique personalities. tastes, habits, preferences, experiences, passions, and ways of looking at and navigating life…(the) world throws stressful situations and painful circumstances at us. We are not always at our best all of the time. So, conflicts arise. Someone feels misunderstood, wronged, denied, or unappreciated.”
Irving Berlin said, “Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.” Dave Early says, “Conflict in and of itself is not a problem. It is neutral – neither bad nor good. The goodness or badness of conflict depends on how we respond to it…Unresolved conflict will eventually erode the joy, rob the peace, and shred the commitments from our relationships.”
Next time you are about to GO OVER THE EDGE and scream and stomp your foot and cry and cuss and slam a door …or drive away… think about this:
“Our sovereign God might not create conflicts, but He often allows them to arise in our relationships for our good and His ultimate glory. Therefore we need to realize that conflict is always an opportunity.” I underlined that for you, because I underlined it for me in my book about three times! and put *** beside it…and said “Wow!” beside it.
Dave Early goes on…”Conflict can either be very destructive or very beneficial, depending on how it is handled. Every conflict we experience has great potential. When handled well, conflict can make us better, give us stronger relationships, and glorify God.”
“Conflict does not resolve itself. Conflict cannot be ignored…Jesus told his followers that attempts at making peace would need to be taken before they could freely and fully worship God.”
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
Jesus teaches that if we have offended someone… we are to make things right. Immediately. Do not delay! Because the lack of resolution is getting in the way of our relationship with God! And if someone has done something to us, then we are to privately confront them, tell them how we feel and seek a resolution.
Sometimes, no matter what we try, the other person may not be willing to agree to let the conflict go. If that happens, then know that God sees. And you have done your part. The rest is up to God and the Holy Spirit working in that other person. Continue to pray…but let it go.
“Successful relationships are the result of making peace without leaving scars. Good relationships result from learning to fight fair.”
Dave Early goes on to explain disastrous ways of interacting. If we can understand the differences, and CARE ENOUGH to take these words of wisdom to heart, we can save ourselves and the people in our lives a lot of heart ache.
1. Criticism – “A complaint is objective and attacks a problem, while a criticism is subjective and attacks the other person. A complaint focuses on the other person’s behavior, while a criticism focuses on their personality.” Again the underline and bold face is mine…because this is HUGE, people. What is the difference between the following: “You are so stupid! You are such a bad parent! Your kids are total brats because you don’t know how to discipline them!” Or, “Your elected officials are ruining the world! How can you support such idiots! You are doing irreparable damage!” Or “You are a pig. You leave your stuff everywhere and make more work for me. You are so thoughtless!” Versus…”I would like to talk about some things we might do to encourage the kids to be more thoughtful to each other and more responsible and respectful. I think if we came up with some ideas and were consistent that it could really help.” or, “I know that you and I have different opinions on politics. I would really like to sit down sometime and try to understand what it is about the ___party that attracts you.” Or, “It would help me if you can put your clothes in the hamper and your dishes in the dishwasher.”
2. Contempt – “If one member of the relationship insults and psychologically abuses the other, everything good in the relationship is overwhelmed by the contemptible acid of name calling, hostile humor, and mockery.”
3. Defensiveness – “Conflicts are resolved when people take responsibility for their part of the problem. But when criticism and contempt enter the scene, defensiveness arises. Walls are erected to protect, rather than bridges built to connect.”
4. Stonewalling – “Worn down by attacks, one member in the relationship will shut down and stop responding.”
So, again…we see the problem. We are a part of the problem! What do we do?
Albert Einstein said that the definition of Insanity was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
It isn’t a coincidence then that we can say that people make us crazy! We have to be the one to get off of the crazy bus…and this is how:
1. OVERLOOK – “If you are going to get upset about something, make sure it is something worth getting upset about; because if you choose to get upset over an issue, you must act responsibly to resolve it. So pick your battles wisely.” Does it really matter where he parks the car at the mall…or that she ordered you tea instead of Coke? Does it really matter that Jr. got to bed a little late because there were a lot of extra things going on that got the normal schedule out of whack? Does it really matter if she didn’t have time to run by the bank…can it not wait…will the world stop turning? I would argue that 99% of what we open our mouth to fuss at somebody about could and should be overlooked!
There are four questions that if we answer “no” about then we should be the adult and move on: Is God dishonored? Is the relationship damaged permanently because of it? Is it seriously hurting other people or the offender? (paraphrased questions posed by Ken Sande). If the answer is “yes” to any of the questions then the problem must be addressed…otherwise OVERLOOK it!
2. Get the log out of your own eye – “Jesus warned us against trying to resolve conflict without first examining ourselves and taking responsibility for our part in the problem.” As Eric Clapton would sing, “Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself…”
3. Make peace. If the conflict is serious enough that it can’t be overlooked this is what Dave Early suggests, “…define the issue clearly and share your feelings directly. Be careful to make an objective complaint instead of personal criticism.”
Go the person…privately…try to reconcile. My children’s 5th wonderful 5th grace teacher would tell them, “Prior preperation prevents poor performance”. Prepare for this attempt at conflict resolution by the guidelines suggested by Ken Sande: “Pray for humility and wisdom…plan our words…anticipate likely reactions…choose the right time and place…assume the best about the other person…listen carefully…speak wisely…ask for feedback..RECOGNIZE YOUR LIMITS. ONLY GOD CAN CHANGE PEOPLE.”
Caps and Bold face are mine. We can not make the other person do anything…but we can do the right thing. And we can model the behavior that we want to see! That is what Glorifies God! And we can REFUSE to be a thermometer! We can control at least the space around and inside us…our personal climate. We must be a thermostat and NOT a thermometer!
Part of me wants to apologize for using so much of the Dave Early book the past few weeks…but this is such important information that if everyone knew the “Secrets to Better Relationships”… and practiced them, we would be so much more content in our interactions with EVERYONE. And we would be so much more content. Period.
Peace to you today and as we enter Holy Week tomorrow with Palm Sunday. Notice the people around you this week. We are all different, but all made in God’s image. We are all interconnected. The strength and health of one affect all of the rest. Let us do all that we can to see each other as important. Lets let conflicts that arise be opportunities to practice these principals. Let’s cut each other slack…because God cuts us A LOT of slack.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18