I sat across the table from someone today. Her eyes continually misting over, emotion clogging her voice.
It’s been a rough week. Life for her has taken a radical turn.
Accepting NO in your life can be hard. Especially when so much YES hinged on that one thing.
It’s hard to understand. Hard to comprehend, in the middle of NO, that there is so much GOOD wrapped up in it. So often God has used that external NO to put boundaries around me so I can be still enough to hear His YES to something else.
How do you share that? How do you impart the vision of hope in an eternally trustworthy God to someone who has had their ideal shattered? Someone who takes your encouragement of, “Be at peace. Trust in the Lord.” as a smooth answer. A pat and cliche response.
So we chatted and prayed and she sniffled through tissues.
I can’t comprehend her life. I don’t live it. I don’t process, evaluate, contemplate the way she does. Frankly, there are many things I don’t understand.
Fortunately, compassion and insight don’t have to come from a place of understanding HER pain. They can come from a place of understanding my own and gratitude for God’s grace and compassion, poured out so unhesitatingly on me when I least deserved it. If I, who needs so much Grace, cannot give to one who needs a little, then how ungrateful am I?
This past week I was asked how I resolve conflict… Which seemed to be almost exactly like “praying for patience”… I was launched smack-dab into the middle of a doozie. I guess I found out.
Here’s how I do it:
- I avoid personal conversation until the emotions are less volatile. I email instead. In my economy a thoughtful and reasoned response is the most compassionate. (apparently, this makes me come across as cold and insensitive)
- I give time and space to the person who is hurting.
- I acknowledge the crisis but avoid speculation in an effort to stay intent to the core of the crisis and not allow the conversation to drift into un-connected, inflammatory places.
- I pray a lot.
- I talk to my husband. A lot. He’s a genius. And really wise. And super kind. And cute.
- I acknowledge the other party’s emotional distress but don’t use it as a springboard for dialogue.
- After a brief cooling off period I will meet face to face and attempt a dialogue.
- If there is any part of the situation which is my responsibility to resolve I do so internally, with an intentional plan for restitution and restoration, prior to meeting and approach the conversation by showing first how I intend to resolve my portion of the conflict.
- I don’t respond emotionally but do my best to be relational. *I even will hug people at this stage – as long as I have a note to prompt me to do so*
- We pray.
- I have an “agenda” of conversation to make the most/best of our conversation.
- I follow up with a personal communication of some sort to, hopefully, further communication.
And, after writing all of that down, I can see why I don’t make many friends who are girls.
I don’t feel their pain. I don’t. I may see a difficult situation and do what I can to help them find a solution but it is VERY easy for me walk away unaffected, personally, by their plight. If that person is unwilling to work on the situation themselves but insists on self-pity, destructive behavior and self-aggrandizement?
I go beyond unaffected and become dismissive.
And that’s where I am SO thankful for HIS intervention. His compassion. His care for me. It’s not What WOULD Jesus Do it’s What Jesus DID.
When the unlovely leper was seeking healing Jesus TOUCHED him. Because people need to be touched. Because there is a healing that goes deeper than words can reach.
So, I reached out and held her hand. Because her loneliness is epic. And loneliness is what I can understand.
I forgave her anger before we ever spoke. Because the impact of foolish words and the ugly spew of bitterness with all the far-reaching consequences is a pain I have inflicted on others and I so desperately understand her temptation.
Is this pretty? No. Is it elegant? No.
Is it over? I very much doubt it.
Tell me again why I decided to wear the Big Hat?