Oh, but God didn't stop there. No. He keeps pressing on my heart. Every where I turned were messages of letting go of resentment. Forgiving. Not holding onto bitterness. Not gathering retaliation rocks. Being kind and humble. Forgive. Let go. Forgive. Let go. Be kind. Resolve conflicts. He had identified an area I need some work, and he was going to make sure I got the message. Why, even this coming week the subject our preacher will be speaking on is "God is Bigger Than Your Conflicts".
I can identify relationships in my life where I am holding onto some level of resentment. I store up hurt feelings, slights, and annoyances. Some real, some may just be in my perspective. I use them to justify myself as I build up that wall. I avoid the person and I stuff the feelings that come up when faced when them. Funny thing about those feelings - they grow, they get sharper, and they end up hurting us more than anyone else.
It's not that I want to be angry. Or bitter. Or self righteous. Or unkind. But... well, in some situations it's just become what's comfortable. Maybe comfortable is the wrong word. But familiar. And even if it's not comfortable, familiarity still carries its own level of... well, comfort. Holding onto past resentments. Or harsh feelings. Or dislike of a particular person. It becomes like a security blanket. It can be because we haven't really forgiven. Or it may be a wall we've built up to protect ourselves before that person can hurt our feelings once again.
Romans 12:18 tells us "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Which puts the ball for resolving those feelings of conflict squarely on our shoulders.
I want to resist. I want to throw myself to the floor and flail my arms like a child, crying out "But, I don't wannaaaaaa". I want to pull out all those justifications of for why I am feeling and acting the way I am. This was about the time I read Lysa TerKeurst's words "Am I trying to prove or improve? In other words, is my desire in this conflict to prove that I am right or to improve the relationship at hand?" I felt the sting. Another "ouch". Message received.
I know I have improvement to make. But it starts with realizing that I need to take steps as far as it depends on me to live at peace with everyone. I can't control others, but I can control how I react to them and how I let them affect me. I have to try to improve relationships rather than prove myself right.
Trust me... it's going to be imperfect progress. And I'm going to need plenty of grace as I stumble and slip along the way. Fortunately I've also been blessed with more of that than I could ever hope for!