Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Purpose Driven Life - Day 20

Day 20 - Restoring Broken Fellowship

Firstly I want to say to those of you who are following my daily journey, I apologize for the late posting of today's lesson.  When I was walking my dog this evening, I took a pretty bad fall and was really just trying to rest a bit and wait for pain meds to kick in. I am not even quite sure if I will be able to walk tomorrow. But I did not want to let the day go without my writing about the lesson of the day, so, with God's strength I am here - better late than never.  So here we go!

Today we learn about how to repair broken fellowship - but really this chapter touched me deeply as it speaks to all relationships that break apart.  Who among us have not had friendships and family relationships that have fallen apart through hurt feelings and pride? I certainly have, and Pastor Rick's words today really gave me endless food for thought.  

Just because we get into a conflict with a loved one, or friend of member of a small group - does not mean that we do not carry unease about the conflict with us in our heart. Often what stops us from rectifying the situation is pride. Ego. We need to realize that God detests pride, but indeed, He loves when we are humble.

In order to repair a broken relationship we need to first speak to God about it.  Express your feelings about the situation and ask Him to help you to repair the relationship.  God will hear your prayer and your upset and point of view on the events and you will find often that God will either change your heart or the heart of the person with whom you had the conflict. This is the beginning of a reconciliation - when our hearts are softened. 

Realize however, that the longer you let things be the way they are - the more difficult it will be to fix the issue.  Time does not heal everything - in fact, time really heals nothing. On the other hand, the more time you let go by may often times give more room for resentment to build between the two parties involved. Someone must make the first move and God expects that person to be you.  Sometimes this is a difficult move. Easier said than done.  When we are hurt or offended, our judgements are clouded and all we can focus on is the hurt or the offence - we instead need to look past the issue and focus on the relationship that is at risk.  Realize that if you are hurt or offended, part of the reason is that you actually care about the person you are in conflict with. We rarely are wounded by the words or actions of people we are not invested in.  With that in mind, we need to extend that olive branch and make the decision to put that ego aside and step forward, make the first move.  This will also signal to the other party that the relationship you share matters to you. 

Often when we find ourselves in a conflict it is because our feelings have not been validated. When two or more people are trying to get their opinion heard, we are so busy pushing that opinion or point of view on the other person that we forget to listen to what the other person is saying and feeling.  Again, we need to step back and sympathize with the feelings of the other person.  Even if we do not agree with them.  By simply saying "I hear what you are saying." "I understand your feelings on the matter."  Whatever you do, do not dismiss the feelings of another. When we feel like our feelings have been dismissed what we are really being told is that our feelings do not matter.  If someone says "I feel hurt" - for you to say "Don't feel that way" is really insensitive as well as insulting. Instead, you might say "I am sorry you feel that way."  Listening, identifying and sympathizing with the feelings of one another allows for communication to begin. 

When there is an argument or disagreement we like to focus on what the other person's part of that event was. Don't we?  "I can't believe s/he said/did _______"  What about what you said/did? We must acknowledge that an argument or conflict takes two parties.  It is pretty difficult for one person to have an argument with themselves. This I think we all can agree on.  So, because it takes two - we need to admit - confess our contribution to the upset. None of us are perfect. Acknowledging that imperfection resides in each of us is a true and spiritually mature beginning towards healing a broken relationship.

Additionally, we also like to make the conflict personal. "S/he is so stupid!" We are lashing out.  The person is not stupid. The person is someone that prior to the incident, was important to you - they were a member of your fellowship. They were a family member. A friend.  When we are hurt or angry, we lash out, and can at times misdirect our upset on the other person rather than on the situation at hand.  We need to be mindful of when we do this. 

The Bible says: "A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire."

When we attempt to live a peaceful life, and acknowledges the differences between each of us - allowing ourselves to live in a cooperative light you will find that the frequency of conflicts will lessen.  Choose your battles.  Not everything needs to be a battle. Not every bridge needs be crossed. When we choose to live in harmony with those around us - we will discover that conflicts among your group will lesson.  This of course is not suggesting that you should become a doormat - just that kindness and respect go a long way in group - and in life.

"Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution. Reconciliation focuses on the relationship, while resolution focuses on the problem.  When we focus on reconciliation, the problem loses significance and often becomes irrelevant." - Pastor Rick

"Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody." - Romans 12:18 (TEV)