There are probably simple, easy answers to many of the questions of what to do when you experience the unexpected, how to react, what to say…
I’m not usually very good with simplicity and too often make everything about as complicated as it could be. Not sure why… Because it keeps life challenging?
Thankfully, God gave me a hubby who is incredibly good at uncovering the most efficient, oftentimes simplest answer possible. Especially when the problem involves fixing things, rather than people.
We balance each other.
Unfortunately, there is rarely a clear or efficient road map to handling people and relationships. Maybe because there is only so much we can control – our words and our actions. There is so little we can actually do to predict how someone else may hear a conversation or react to an interaction.
We can try to process or even plan how things will go, but inevitably there is the element of the unexpected.
More often than not, the things that most catch us off guard are the negative or difficult components of a conversation or a relationship that either grate on us to the point of anger or frustration, or that challenge us to find creative ways to love anyway in spite of and because of those obstacles in our striving toward harmonic relationships.
Too often, anger claims our hearts and steals our love from those who are still God’s beloved, even in their opposition.
Too often, fear clouds our eyes and overshadows our hope from those who God still holds in His hands, regardless of the consequences.
Too often, disgust grows in our souls and robs our joy from those who God cherishes in entirety.
It becomes too easy for us to walk alongside those who agree with us, to bask in the sunshine of praise and flee from the shadows of disapproval, to shy away from the expected and unexpected conflicts that stare us in the face.
When the raging storms and blustery winds and crashing waves surround you, any glimmer of faith to be restored in humanity can seem like a flickering fire. Easily stoked and easily quelled. Which can also make a person cling to unexpected kindness and generosity from others, just to rekindle hope in oneself and humanity. And even in God.
I get it. Conflict of even the most benign proportions makes me want to hide or become a chameleon of sorts that changes into whomever someone else approves. Sometimes, even thinking that God made mistakes in His creation of me or of others.
And it makes me question God. And that makes me doubt God and even His wisdom, but not His love.
For conflict has always existed, since the beginning of time. It is not excluded from the glory of God’s redemptive grace or the reach of His love.
The expected and unexpected are equivalent in God’s mercy-full hands.
The kindnesses and the arguments are intertwined in the reconciliation that comes only from Christ.
The balance between conflict and peace remain God’s to grant, Christ’s to bleed, Spirit’s to share…
“…remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:12-22, NIV, emphasis added).
Perhaps it is the peace of God, the gift of Christ’s flesh and blood on a cross that puts hostility to death, that must be retained even when we struggle with the unexpected.
Perhaps we must allow both conflict and peace to maintain a balance within us and to become a dwelling for God and His redeeming grace and His unyielding love.
Perhaps we must not choose the easy route to relationships, deciding instead to face our fears and handle the challenges with the grateful acceptance and thankful understanding that His peace has already walked the road before us.
Perhaps it is one of the greatest callings He can place upon our lives… to love anyway.