Thanks be to Ann Voskamp for capturing my heart today. I confess I’m not always very good at this, but I’m really trying. I have been trying for quite some time now. The fact is that when Jesus knit me together in my mother’s womb, He forgot to super glue my lips shut. Oops! I’m opinionated. Bossy. Passionate. Emotional. Slightly scrappy. And I really, really, really suck at keeping my mouth shut. Friends, this is not a good thing. Jesus is helping me. It’s a process.
I’ve come to realize that there are two types of people when it comes to dealing with confrontation. (One side note here: there is the third type, but they are the non-confrontational ones who run from conflict like their feet are on fire. They are people pleasers. I am not. I cannot think deep thoughts about them because they make no sense to me.) So, for the sake of my blog, the first type of people who deal with conflict use their “honesty” to speak their mind with very little concern for another person’s feelings or general well-being. These are the kind of people who say things like, “I’m just being honest!” and “I’m keepin’ it real!” when what they really mean is that they do not care one iota about being helpful, constructive problem-solving, or extending grace to those they are in conflict with. When they feel attacked, belittled, or even slightly wounded they come out swinging and they go straight to hit others where it hurts most. One should never, ever expect an apology from these types of people because they justify their words and actions with their “honesty” and no one in their right mind would dare apologize for the “truth.” To borrow a phrase from my favorite author’s new book, “this is horsecrappery.” And unfortunately it’s horsecrappery that I bought and sold to myself for many, many years. Here’s some truth: This is how people escape acting like sensible adults and engaging in self-control, self-reflection, problem-solving, and the hard work of grace and humility.
The second group of people who deal with confrontation are those who have what I like to call “perspective.” They are capable of putting themselves into the other person’s position and at least attempt to see things from another point of view. They can even agree to disagree and not walk away still arguing their talking points in their minds! They have empathy. Compassion. Grace. They care less about being right and proving a point and more about seeking to understand other people’s feelings and viewpoints. These are the kind of people who humble themselves enough to seek solutions. Reconciliation. Peace.
I wanna be like them when I grow up. I want them to be my people.
Christian friends, I’m begging you, BE PEACEMAKERS PLEASE!!! Mercy, grace, compassion, kindness, and LOVE….these defined Jesus’ ministry!! These are the things that He wisely & lavishly extended to his closest friends, complete strangers, and the sinners with which He surrounded Himself. These are the very things that touched, healed, & changed lives because they are gifts. They are the same gifts that He gives to us when He reaches out & beckons to us to come & be His children who bear His name. (I have to pause here. I can’t. Seriously, people? Do you know how utterly ridiculous is it that a Holy God would choose to freely give that kind of gift to people like us? Maybe if you’re not as bad of a sinner as I’ve been this doesn’t do anything for you. But I can barely digest that kind of crazy, ridiculous Love. Just, wow.) If we are going to dare to call ourselves Christians, shouldn’t we try to be a little more like the Guy by whose Name we define ourselves? And what better opportunity do we have to practice that than when we find ourselves in the midst of conflicts and confrontations with others? Our world has enough finger-pointers and “truth” tellers. But it sure could use a few radical grace-givers and those willing to extend our arms and embrace the ones who’ve been beaten, bruised, and bloodied by that kind of alleged truth.
Every conflict, big or small, provides us an opportunity to exercise our self-control and extend the gifts of mercy, compassion, grace, kindness, and love to others. Instead of seeking to just tell the Truth, I’m praying you and I will start by trying to be more like Him.