Last night, one of my daughters (who shall remain nameless) was bemoaning the fact that, in spite of her kindness toward someone, that someone responded to her in a curt, short fashion. I encouraged her to just blow it off. Then, this morning, the very same thing happened to me and I found it difficult to blow off.
Have you ever done that. . .approached someone with such kindness and compassion in your tone, and their response was anything but? It’s hard, isn’t it? If you’re a softie like me, you replay the conversation in your mind, over and over, wondering what you could’ve said or done differently. You agonize over the misunderstanding.
I’m in the middle of a Bible study on Nehemiah, (written by my good friend, Donna Snow). Today’s lesson was all about unity, (about how we’re all gifted differently, but operate under the same Spirit). That’s hard to remember sometimes because people are just so different. Some are hands, some are feet, some are mouths (yeah, that’s me), some are eyes, some are ears, etc. We all have different giftings and callings, but we’re all supposed to live unified.
After I finished my study this morning (as I pondered that gal who doesn’t seem to “get” me) I poured out my heart to God. “WHY doesn’t she get me? What am I doing wrong? Will every conversation with her be like this? I’m trying so hard to say things the right way, but she’s just not responding as I’d hoped.”
I stopped moaning and started praying, and God led me to this familiar verse: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 (NIV)
Several things jumped out at me as I read the verse: “IF it is possible.” That means there may be times when it’s simply not. There will be people we simply never get along with or agree with or share life with. And, as much as we wish it could be, it might not. There are toxic friendships, manipulative marriages, evil ties that need to be broken. (God would never ask us to align ourselves with evil, IMHO.)
Next, “As far as it depends on you” jumped out at me. I’m only responsible for me. But God really wants me to keep trying. If I know the one I’m at odds with has a vulnerable spot, I can’t keep hitting them there. I can’t send political posts meant to sway them. I can’t beat them over the head with Bible verses. I can’t push or cajole. “As far as it depends on me” I have to do my part to keep the unity between us. And that’s not always easy. I like to get my point across. I like to keep pushing until I get my way.
Finally, “live at peace with everyone.” This is a tough one. It’s hard enough to live at peace with the people in my tight circle. (We’re all so different!) But…everyone? Really? God wants me to do my best to live at peace with everyone? Ugh. That means I have to shift my entire focus and push love to the forefront, even when the responses aren’t what I’d hoped. And I have to see mankind–lost or saved–through the eyes of Christ. (Again, I’m not saying you have to stay in a toxic relationship or align yourself with someone intent on bringing harm.)
I don’t know who you’re struggling with today. I don’t know if you’re in the “It’s just not possible stage, needing to step away. Or in you’re in the the “as much as it depends on me” stage. But God wants you to live at peace. And let’s be real: Peace begins inside of you. Most of all, He wants you to come to peace inside of yourself (something that can only happen if you give your heart to Him). Doing so makes getting along with others easier. Not EASY….but EASIER.