How to Give Yourself Up For Others

My mom was an elementary school teacher. She started teaching after she graduated college, at 21, and retired when she was in her late 50s. She loved her students, and she was excellent at her job. It was most definitely her calling in life.

Once a teacher, always a teacher though, and she has worked with all 4 of her grandchildren during their early years. They are all avid readers and super-smart (I am biased, of course, since two of her 4 grandchildren are my children).

Currently, she plans lessons using the North Carolina standards for kindergarten so she can supplement what my younger nephew does in his one day of face-to-face learning and support him on the days he is at home.

My sister, my mom, and me at the beach this summer (July 2020)

“I planned more than he could possibly do in one day, like every teacher does when they lesson plan,” she told me this afternoon when she visited my children on the way home from keeping my nephew until his parents and older brother got home from school.

Between you and me, I am certain that this woman will teach, in some capacity, until the day she dies.

Years ago, after I started my own teaching job (my sister is a teacher, too, as are 4 of my mom’s nieces – I’m not saying my mom had something to do with all of that, but who’s to say she didn’t…) and saw how much time it took outside the classroom to plan lessons and score work, I realized something: I have little to no memories of mama creating lesson plans or grading students’ work. Obviously she did both, but I have few memories of it.

I asked her about it once. She told me that she did it after school before she came home or at night after my sister and I went to bed.

When we were awake, she gave her time to caring for her family – cooking, cleaning, helping with homework, doing things together as a family. Her work was secondary to us.

She gave herself up for us. In humility, she counted the needs of her husband and children as more significant than her own needs. She looked not only to her own interests but to ours as well.

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I had to live this out this past Monday. It was the first day of school, and our school district is doing what our governor calls “Plan B.” Students go to school one day a week for face-to-face learning with their teachers. The other four days of the week they learn virtually from home. The preschool where I worked the past two years closed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and elected not to reopen this fall, so I am home helping my children do their online learning. Monday, my children started 6th and 2nd grades on their computers.

It was hectic. Tedious. Frustrating.

We sat at our little round table in the kitchen and dove in. Both kids had their computers out. Although I had my own work to do to get my online class ready (I was able to pick up a course to teach online as an adjunct for a college), I knew better than to try to do anything. I knew that the day had to belong to my children.

I sat between them and literally went back and forth helping them figure out how to navigate their pages, find their assignments, learn how to do them, and submit them.

I wasn’t even upset. I knew it had to be done. The only way the first day of school had a chance to be anywhere near smooth or successful was for me to put aside what I wanted to do and focus on helping them get going.

It was painstaking. At times it was nerve wracking. But it was what had to be done. And it was what countless parents, grandparents, older siblings, aunts, uncles, close family friends, or nannies did on Monday and will continue to do until we get these kids settled into a routine of online learning so they can work more independently.

What we did – what we do on a daily basis for our children, our spouses, our co-workers, our friends, the person behind us in the checkout line at the store that we let skip us because they’re holding 5 items and we have a cart full – is a demonstration of love – agapao.

And this is how God instructed us to show love to each other.

Ephesians 5:2 – And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (ESV, emphasis added).

When we give ourselves up for other people, when we consider others’ needs and interests as more important than our own, when we outdo each other in showing honor, when we count others as more significant than ourselves, when we look not only to our own interests but also to the interests of others, we show love to those people. We act out love. We love the way God loved – or as closely as we are able to in our humanness.

I’ve been studying the biblical concept of love and HOW to show love for over a month now. God has shown me things, and I pray that He will help me put what He’s taught me into practice. I don’t just want to talk about it; I want to live it and do it – even to the people who are hard to love.

Talk to God. Ask Him to show you how to love other people. Ask Him to show you ways to give yourself up for the people around you. Then, as soon as He shows you, act on it right away before the enemy can talk you out of it. It might be something big, or it might be something small. It might cost you money or time or energy, but God has promised to use our acts of love to soften hearts and bring people to Himself. And He promises a blessing on those who bless others.

What can you do to show love to someone today?

Wait…I Have to Love My Enemies?

Has this ever happened to you: Someone hurt your feelings? Talked about you behind your back? Someone was difficult to deal with? Made your life hard or unpleasant?

Of course. We’ve all experienced hurtful situations and challenging people. We may not think of these people literally as our enemies. I definitely don’t think of myself as having enemies. That word’s a little harsh. But we certainly don’t think fondly of people who have wronged us. I know I have people in my life who are difficult to love. They rub me the wrong way. Our personalities don’t mesh well.

However, Jesus was clear that believers must love our neighbor – anybody we come into contact with during the course of our day – and we must love our enemy – the people who have hurt us.

Lately, I’ve been interested in exactly HOW to love others. Does the Bible give me specific instructions on exactly what to do to show love to my neighbor and my enemy?

To find out, I went back to the verse that started this whole thing: Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (ESV).” And I studied the two Greek words for love used in the verse – agape and agapao. Agape is a noun: a thing, concept, or an idea. Agapao is a verb: something you do, an action.

Using the Blue Letter Bible app, I read through all the verses that used agapao and noted verses that gave explicit directions – something specific to do to show love. The first concrete instructions in the New Testament using the verb agapao were given by Jesus. In Matthew 5:44, he said, “But, I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (ESV – emphasis added).”

How do we love others? How do we love people who have done us wrong? Pray for them – all of them – the ones who wronged us, treated us poorly, talked about us behind our backs, don’t deserve our kindness…

Jesus told us to have a conversation with God about that person; that’s what prayer is anyway, a conversation with God.

Can you ask God to burn the bread they’re toasting for breakfast or to give that person a flat tire on the way to work?

NO 🙂

But, you can ask God to change him or her…to make that person into someone who acts kindly, stops spreading rumors, leaves your child along at school. All those requests are fine. In our conversations with God, we’re allowed to tell Him our hearts’ desire.

However, Scripture specifically instructs us to pray for our enemies’ salvation, to express thankfulness for those people, and to pray for their well-being (1 Peter 3:9).

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Sounds extremely difficult, right? When you’re upset with someone, the last thing you want to do is to pray for that person’s well-being! No! You want to call your best friend and tell him or her about who wronged you and how angry you are.

But, this has no place in the life of a Christ-follower. Jesus said we were to love the people who persecuted us. He also said, “do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27 ESV).”

The apostle Peter echoed this when he wrote, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called that you may obtain a blessing (1 Peter 3:9 ESV).”

Do good to people who hate you? Bless people who have done evil to! Can you imagine?

The Greek word used for bless means “speak well of,” and this is what God calls us to do. Don’t repay gossip with gossip or cruel words with cruel words.

Instead, try to say something pleasant to or about that person. Or, maybe try what my grandmother and mother taught me: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

Do you know what might happen in prayer with God when you talk to him about this person who is difficult to love? He might have some things to say to you as well. A conversation goes two ways, right? He may convict your heart to pray for that person’s soul and salvation. He may encourage you to overlook the offensive things that person has done and will do. He may command you to forgive. To continue to be kind no matter how you’re treated. To speak well of that person (or at least to keep your mouth shut).

So, in your prayer time with God, specifically about this difficult person, who is God actually changing?

You.

Crazy how that works, isn’t it.

I’m not saying the other person won’t also change as a result of your prayers. That is a likely outcome as well. But, God will definitely change you during your time in prayer with him.

Try it.

Right now, think of a person in your life who is difficult to deal with. Someone who has said something to you or about you or done somehting to you and upset you.

Stop right now and pray for that person. Ask God to speak to that person’s heart. Ask God to pursue that person for an intimate relationship like He (hopefully) has with you. Pray for that person’s soul and salvation. Pray for that person’s family. Job. Health.

Ask God to tell you other ways you could show kindness and love for that person and ask Him to give you the strength to do it.

Give God a chance to show you what He can do.

Image Credit: The Romantic Vineyard

Maybe this sounds unrealistic or oversimplified. And honestly, you won’t see the outcome you want from each “enemy” you pray for. But that doesn’t matter. It’s what Jesus taught, so it is what God expects. As His children, we should respond with obedience, no matter the outcome.

Make in Me a Clean Mouth, O God

Confession: I have had a terribly filthy mouth in my day.

I guess having a “potty-mouth,” as it’s sometimes called, felt like a safe thing to do to be rebellious 🙂 Would keep me from being a complete goodie-two-shoesWouldn’t get me in a ton of trouble

That’s totally lame.  I know it now.

Anyway, a combination of being married to someone who wasn’t much for cussing, having children and not wanting to talk like that around them, and beginning to walk with God cleaned up the filth, for the most part.

But sometimes I have, shall we say, relapses, and my tongue gets a little loose.

I had one such relapse a few weekends ago when Bill and I spent the weekend at the beach with my sister, Tiffany, and her husband, Josh. We went to celebrate my 40th birthday, and it was just what I hoped it would be: we laughed a lot. I took naps when I wanted.  We went out to eat at “adult” times.  We walked on the beach.  We rode in the Jeep Wrangler…it was perfect.

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Photo Credit: Tiffany Manley – Tiff and me in the back seat of the Jeep on the way to dinner.  Call me crazy, but I have only ridden in a Wrangler a handful of times in my life…so it was on my list of things I wanted to do while I was at the beach celebrating my 40th 🙂

 

But, when I am around Tiffany…I might cuss a little…ok, I might cuss a lot. I guess I feel comfortable with her; I know she won’t think I’m a bad person.

Of course I knew at the time it was wrong, but I kept doing it.

Once the weekend was over and we got home, God began convicting me about my unholy talk.

During our morning devotion the Monday after our beach weekend, my director used some verses from Colossians, and one of them talked about how Christians needed to avoid filthy talk.

There were 15 or 16 verses in the devotion that morning, but I zeroed in on that one. I knew God was talking to me.

 

 

That afternoon, I texted Josh and Tiffany and apologized to them. I apologized to Bill as well.

A few days later during my quiet time, I read 2 Corinthians 2:15 about our lives being a sacrifice to God to use to reach people around us. This made me think of my mouth again. Everything I do and say reflects God to others. My life is how I worship Him.

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What God was saying to me was obvious: I cannot have a filthy mouth and be a tool for God to use to draw people to Himself.

I worship God with my whole life – it is my sacrifice, and it is on display for all to see (and hear). There shouldn’t be any unholy talk.

No inappropriate jokes.

No foul language.

 

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Since I’ve taken the first two steps – acknowledged the conviction and apologized for my wrongdoing – I have to complete the journey. To fully repent, I must turn to God and away from the sin.

What does that look like?

Maybe I have fewer relapses.

Maybe I stop cussing altogether.

Maybe I don’t even think in cuss words anymore!

That would mean that I have truly and completely allowed God to change me – what I say and what I think.

And if those words don’t come out of my mouth, then they aren’t in my heart.

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Image Credit: flickr.com

That is truly what I want to give back to God. A changed heart.

Pray this with me:

Thank you, Father for choosing me, and thank you for loving me. Thank you for sending your Son to die for me so that I could spend eternity with you in Heaven.

I want to be a tool for you to use, Father. Change me so you can use me.

My life is my worship, Lord; everything I do and say points to you once I say I am a Christian.

Continue to convict me. Continue to show me things in my life that need to be given over to you. Continue to make me more like you.

I want my life to be a sweet-smelling sacrifice to you – every part of it. Do this in me today, Father.

Amen

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Why “Venting” Won’t Cut It

When God shows us our sin, we have to repent and turn from that sin back to God.  That means we aren’t supposed to go back to that sin.

Easier said than done, right?  YES!

Some things I turned from and never looked back.  Some things I turned from, and God had to work on me a while.  Some things God convicted me about, and I still struggle to turn from them.

You probably have a similar experience although the sins you struggle with – the things you do that do separate you from God – may be different from mine.

Lately, God has been convicting me about my talk.  He reminded me that we have to be holy in our behavior.  He also reminded me that what comes out of my mouth reflects what’s in my heart.

 

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He reminded me that I should come to Him when I get frustrated with someone else’s behavior rather than “venting” to another person about what has made me angry or hurt my feelings.

“Venting” is what we call it when we complain or fuss to a third party about our frustrations.

For example, I could vent to my sister when I’m frustrated with my husband; I could go to her (and sometimes do) to complain or fuss about something he said that hurt my feelings or something he did that made me angry.

So, I vent to blow off steam, to let off the pressure, and then it’s all over, and I can move on, right?

But really this is just talking behind my husband’s back, isn’t it?

And it didn’t really fix anything, did it?

In fact, the only thing I’ve succeeded in doing is making it worse.

If we honestly look at it, venting is dangerous.  It changes our mind and heart toward the person or thing we are venting about.  It hardens our hearts more toward the situation and the people involved.

It also hardens the heart of the person we vent to.  It literally changes how that person perceives the person we’re venting about.  So, it causes the confidant or third party to sin, too.

So, what the heck do I do when I’ve been wronged, and I’m angry?  When I need to fuss about what someone’s done to me?  When I need to vent my frustrations?

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Image Credit: Les Feldick Bible Study 

Go to God.  Pray to Him.  Talk to Him about what that person said or did.  How the person made me angry.  How I want God to change that person.

You can do this, too, when you need to vent.

You can yell at Him.  You can cry.  Be angry.  Be hurt.  Be heart-broken.  He can handle it.

Warning – God might not change that person who wronged you.  But, He’s very likely to change your heart toward that person.

I know you don’t want that.  You aren’t the problem, right?  The other person is…so you may have to “get right with God,” as they say, before you can do this – knowing you’re more likely to be changed and the other person might not be.  Wrestle with Him about that, too.  God will speak to you in that wrestling. He wants you to bring it to Him.

And maybe God can use the change in you to bring about change in the person who wronged you after all.  Maybe the other person sees the change in you and how you treat them, and God uses that to soften their heart so He can change them…kinda crazy, huh?  But that’s how God works.  His kingdom is upside-down, and His ways are not our ways.

So let’s try it.

I’m working on it, too.

The next time I am angry or hurt and feel the need to talk to someone about my issue with someone else, I’m going to talk to God instead.  I’m going to take my frustration or anger to Him and allow Him to have His way with my heart.

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Image Credit: Klove.com

Pray this prayer with me…

Dear God,

Living in the world as your child seems difficult sometimes.  Your ways aren’t my ways.  You call me to be different, and I want to do your will.  You are wise.  You are love.  You are the Creator.  You know how this is supposed to work.  You see how it is meant to go.  You know how it is going to end up.

You have control, and I thank you for taking that from me.  You take my burdens and ask me to simply rest in you.  You ask me to take your yoke which is light.  You ask me to live according to your commands.  Help me to do that.

Take my life, Father.  Have your way with it.

Amen

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Read more posts about how to handle hurt feelings.  Also, read more posts about how to handle Satan’s attacks.  The temptation to vent to someone other than Jesus comes from Satan, and you can combat that temptation the same way I discussed combating other temptation from the enemy.

Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from my Grandma

“The best thing you can do to someone who is being mean to you is to be as nice as you can to them.” I distinctly remember sitting on a stool at the counter in my grandma’s kitchen one afternoon after school when she said this to me.

Seventh grade was my first real encounter with girls being mean just for spite – saying snide things about my clothes or my hair or something like that. Undoubtedly, she and I were talking about this, and her advice was to be as kind as I could in return.

That sounds crazy, right?! It definitely isn’t worldly advice. Worldly wisdom says to be mean back to those girls. The world’s advice is to get even when someone does you wrong. But, grandma was saying to be nice!

She said, “being nice in return is your best choice because it is the opposite of what the person expects. That person expects you to cry, but you don’t cry, at least you don’t cry in front of her. If you’re nice, she doesn’t get the reaction she was looking for. There’s no drama. And a lot of the time, that person will eventually move on. It’s a really good way to handle a bully. And,” she added, “it’s what the Bible says to do, too.”

At some point in the conversation, I’m pretty sure I remember the phrase “heaping burning coals on their head.”  Grandma said that was the part from the Bible… So, if the Bible and Grandma said it, it was good enough for 13-year-old me.

In my lifetime, I have come to find that Grandma was right. The best thing to do is to be kind to people even when they aren’t kind to you. She was also right when she said that most of the time, your response would make them leave you alone…eventually.

But where did Grandma get this? She told me it was biblical?

As an adult who is concerned with living a godly life, I’ve looked into this further and found that it is indeed advice from the Bible. King Solomon, in all his God-given wisdom, wrote about it in Proverbs, and Paul echoed it in his letter to the Romans.

Proverbs 25:21-22 says, “if your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you. “

Um…what?

The English Standard Version Study Bible (ESV) explains these verses the best:

The image of the burning coals on your enemy’s head is “likely an image for leading him to repentance or shame, suggesting that he will feel inward burning pangs of guilt for his wrongdoing. In any case, the message is clearly to repay evil with good… The image of ‘burning coals’ does not imply something that harms the enemy because it further explains the bread and drink in Proverbs 25:21, which do him good, and also because Proverbs forbids taking personal vengeance… Finally, ‘the Lord will reward you’ implies a good result from ‘burning coals’ which is most consistent with leading a person to repentance.”

To understand how this works, jump ahead to Romans 12.  Verses 9-21 discuss Christian behavior and echo things many of us are used to hearing:

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (verse 14)

“Live in harmony with one another” (verse 16)

“Repay no one evil for evil but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (verse 17)

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peacefully with all” (verse 18)

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“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God” (verse 19)

Then, we get to verses 20 and 21:

“… if your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he’s thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not overcome evil by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

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“There are those burning coals again,” you might think. “Heather, are you sure this is what it means to be nice to someone who has wronged me? Sounds like you’re just being mean right back. “

Well, in Romans 12:20 (above), Paul quotes Proverbs 25:21-22, but, you have to go back to Romans 12:9, earlier in the same section, to get some context and to properly seat the instructions of Romans 12:20 in the right frame for the Christian. Verse 9 says, “let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil and hold fast to what is good.”

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That explains the whole thing.

Being nice to someone who is mean to you isn’t some weird way to get revenge.  The important thing to ask yourself is, “how do I feel about this person in my heart when I am nice to her in return?” Literally, what is the condition of your heart? What is your motive?

The point – and this is the hard part, this is where prayer comes in – is that your love for that person has to be genuine. Verses 9-21 of Romans 12 are, according to the ESV, a “description of the life that is pleasing to God.”  And the section starts off with love.

When we are genuinely kind to the person who wronged us, our motivation is love. We don’t heap coals to hurt that person; we heap coals to help that person.

When we repay evil with good, we do so in hopes that our behavior will soften the heart of the wrongdoer. Our purpose is always to point people back to God, to show people His love.

The strangeness she feels when you repay her evil with good should start something in her heart. It should cause her to stop and question: “How can she be nice to me after how I spoke to her?”

God can use that to change a person’s hearts; all He needs is a little soft spot to take hold of.

Above all, we are called to love, genuinely.

This takes a lot of prayer… Prayer for God to show us how to live. Prayer for God to change our hearts. Prayer for God to show us how to love people like He loves them.  Prayer for God to help us love the unlovable.

This is how we live the life of a believer the way that God wants us to live. And it’s what Grandma was talking about all those years ago that afternoon in her kitchen.

 

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Grandma last year on her 90th birthday with Ethan and Emery.  We celebrated her 91st just a few weeks ago 🙂

 

7 Tips for Fighting Better

My husband and I had a challenging conversation the other night.  I like to call this having a “difference of opinion”. 😉

Have you ever had a difference of opinion with someone?  It happens, right?

So why not learn some ways to fight better?  No, I don’t mean learn how to always win the fight.

What I’m saying is, let’s learn some better ways to fight so that we can find an amicable solution or so that we can at least can walk away with our feelings and the other person’s feelings in tact.

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7 Tips to Fight Better

  • Stop.  Stay calm.  This is important whether the conflict happens on social media or in person.  The Bible calls this being “slow to anger,” and is full of verses that speak to the wisdom in remaining composed.  Take a moment to stop and pray, even if it’s just a short, “Help me please, Lord.”  Take time to think through what happened and ask yourself, “Am I really upset at this?  Is this worth getting into a disagreement over?” If the answer is no, move on. If the answer is yes, it’s still a good idea to wait and try to keep your cool.

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  • Acknowledge your own part in the conflict.  What assumptions and expectations do you hold that are influencing how you talk about this situation?  A related question to ask yourself is, ‘Did I do anything to offend the other person’? A familiar verse that supports this tip is Matthew 7:1-5.  Christians are challenged to deal with the “log in your own eye” before you “take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  It is hypocritical to point out all the things your spouse, sibling, friend, or in-law did wrong if you won’t acknowledge your part in the problem.

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

  • Talk face-to-face and one-on-one.  Whenever possible, go to the person and talk in private.  Avoid venting to someone else. (Don’t fuss to your sister about your lazy husband or to your husband about your annoying coworker…you get the picture).  Also avoid taking the issue to social media. I think we all know what can happen here. This is called “airing dirty laundry”, and it almost always turns out badly.  In Matthew 18:15a, Jesus says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone”. This was a verse I saw over and over when I was researching this topic.  Matthew 18:15-17 was used often as the key verse to show biblical conflict management.

 

 

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

  • Find common ground.  Focus on the relationship.  If you can find something you have in common with that person, you’re much more likely to be able to cooperate, acknowledge the other person’s feelings, show that you care about that person, be honest about your feelings, and be respectful of the other person’s feelings .  Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our enemy isn’t flesh and blood but the spiritual forces of evil.  Remember, the other person isn’t your enemy – Satan is, and he’s the one who wants the conflict to tear apart your relationship.

 

  • Listen. Let the other person talk, even if you’re the one who brought up the issue because you were hurt or wronged.  After you explain what’s wrong, allow the other person to have his/her say, too. Sit quietly. Don’t plan your retort.  Just listen. It’s ok to ask for clarification as the person is speaking – to repeat some of the things he/she said to be sure you understood – but leave some space for her otherwise.  There may be some underlying issues you don’t know about or unspoken expectations or assumptions that have made the problem worse.

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  • Focus on the main issue.  It is very likely that other problems will surface while you’re trying to work this out.  While those shouldn’t be ignored completely, they should be sidelined for the moment as you focus on the current situation.  What offended you in the first place? If it was the fact that your husband doesn’t help with the dishes and cleaning the kitchen after dinner, you’ll have to table the issue of him not helping get the kids in the bed and come back to that later.

 

  • Forgive.  Give grace. Did you know that God wants us to put our worship on hold and forgive someone we have a grudge against first.  It’s THAT important. Matthew 5:23-24 says, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”  God wants us to come before Him with clean hearts – not hearts burdened with contempt over an offense or argument.

 

The next time you find yourself having a difference of opinion with someone, remember these tips.  Take a moment to stop, pray, and ask for God’s guidance. Then, go to this person, and begin the conversation.

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Think back to some recent conflicts you’ve had.  Which of these tips did you use? Which ones didn’t you use? How did the use of these tips (or lack thereof) influence the way the conflict was handled?

Can you think of other helpful tips to share?

For more on the subject of biblical conflict management read When Your Feelings Are Hurt.  Also, see What To Do If You Have a Critical Spirit.

I used the following resources in my research for this post:
9 Ways to Handle Conflict Biblically

Conflict Resolution

Experiencing Intercultural Communication 4th Edition

Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters 8th Edition

Sermon: Jesus’ Plan for Resolving Conflict – Matthew 5, 18

Tips and Tools for Healthy Conflict Resolution

When Your Feelings Are Hurt

My feelings were hurt the other day.  Yes, it was a petty thing that upset me, but I was momentarily wounded none-the-less.  Right away, Satan started in with the lies he likes to use with me in similar situations.

“See.  You don’t really have any friends.”

“No one really likes you.”

“It’s because you aren’t friendly.”

“You’re forgettable.”

“Why do you even bother?”

All these thoughts flooded my mind within about 2.5 seconds of the alleged offense.

Truth be told, Satan has been pulling this particular trick with me for so long, I don’t think he actually has to do anything anymore; I do it to myself. I start listing the lies for him.  I am doing Satan’s job.

And honestly, that isn’t something I want to do.

Do not give the devil a foothold

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So this time, before I wallowed in it and let it fester and infect my entire day, I stopped myself.  First, I told myself I was likely reading into the situation things that were not true. Nothing was done purposefully.

I remind my children of this constantly when they come to me bringing the latest complaint about who broke a beloved toy or who threw away a favorite drawing or who made a mean face at whom. I typically ask them not to assume the worst in others.

“Don’t immediately think your sister did that on purpose…”

Overlook an offense

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I bet I’ve said that to my son a trillion times if I’ve said it once.

If the lesson is good enough for them, and I truly believe it has merit, then it is good enough for me, as well.  So, I told myself that this time. “Don’t automatically assume this was meant to hurt you. More than likely it has nothing to do with you at all.”

Taking into account that there were likely no cruel intentions involved did slow my racing heart, but my flesh still wanted a pity party.

I wanted to text my husband or call my mom or my sister.  I needed someone to be outraged and demand, “How dare they!”  I just wanted someone on my side. That would make me feel better.

However, I thought back to a graphic I saw on Facebook not two weeks ago.  It explained the very situation I was facing at the moment. It showed two paths I could take in response to the supposed transgression against me: God’s way or the world’s way.  I knew I had to choose God’s way.

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I saw this graphic in my Facebook feed a few weeks ago.  I have no idea who created it originally, but I am not the author.

I didn’t want to.  I wanted to run, headlong, down the slippery slope of the left side.  I wanted to “tell people all about it.” That would be delicious! That would satisfy my flesh and give me the pity I wanted so badly.  But I knew, looking at that right column, that this was the way to go; it was God’s way, and it was the best way.

A better perspective was needed.  Peace was what my soul desired even more than pity.  I just needed to be with God for a little while.

Be at peace with everyone

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Instead of clutching my phone and feverishly blabbing how upset I was, I clung to my Bible.

“Lord, please show me what to do.  My feelings are hurt. I feel like I don’t have any friends.  What do I do?” I asked aloud.

This was part of my answer:

Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Colossians 3:13 – Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

James 1:19 – Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

A gentle response

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Hebrews 12:15 – See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.

Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks go God the Father through him.

There were other messages that I found, too.  There were plenty of verses about how much God loves me, that He created me in His image, that He has a purpose for my life, that He will fight for me and take care of me, that He will never leave me, and on and on.

When you feel unloved

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Interestingly enough, what this became was a snippet of time alone with God.  As I was reading through the different verses I found, I began to praise Him and worship Him.

When you read about how much He loves you, you can’t help but do so!  

Before I knew it, what had hurt my feelings just a few minutes prior was the furthest thought from my mind.  I wasn’t upset at the people involved. Satan was no longer telling me I was unlikable. God and I were having a peaceful praise party with Him as the focus.

Gone was my desire to blubber to my sister and hope she would jump on the sinking ship with me.  I was just thankful. My joy was back because I had chosen to reclaim it by focusing on God and what He would want me to do in the situation rather than what I felt like doing.

I have to stop here and say that I don’t choose this path every time.  I don’t always choose joy. Sometimes, I choose to flop right on down in that slimy, sticky self-pity filth hole and throw a little tantrum for a while.  Just get covered head-to-toe in that muck. Sometimes, I choose to let whatever happened ruin my whole day. Sometimes I tell someone what upset me. I relive the circumstances over and over, becoming more insulted each time I rehash the incident.

And it feels fabulously…horrible.  It just feels horrible. It feels like my heart is all covered in yellow pus, and I am suffocating.

It truly isn’t what God wants for me or for anyone in that situation – especially when the insult probably wasn’t legitimate at the outset (Legitimate offenses warrant a totally different blog post…for another day).

When to keep your mouth shut

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The next time someone steps on my toes, I challenge myself to talk to God about it.

The next time someone steps on your toes, I challenge you to talk to God about it.

First, remind yourself not to jump to conclusions; don’t immediately assume this was meant on purpose to hurt you.  Don’t immediately assume the worst.

Then, find your Bible.  Sit down and open it on your lap (or pull up your Bible app on your phone, but no texting or calling people to talk about what happened 🙂 )  Look up some of the verses listed above or find your own verses about dealing with hurt feelings or wrongs from others.

Next, ask God what to do.  Tell Him you’re hurting – that something happened that hurt your feelings – and ask Him what to do.

Sit quietly and wait to hear what He has to say.

I’ll try to do the same.

What do you typically do in response to someone hurting your feelings?  What is the outcome of the situation? Have you learned any positive or Christ-like ways to deal with such offenses?  Please share those here.