1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.
This retirement thing has been going very well – I’m liking this! Tom has gotten a lot of honey-do projects done, and we’ve gotten our garage looking less like a Hoarders show and more like a garage. This is working! I have to admit, I was “cautiously apprehensive.” Our entire marriage, Tom and I have spent a lot of time away from each other. We’ve worked fairly serious hours, had five kids going all directions, done a lot of church things, family things, and enjoyed each other when we could. I wasn’t sure how we’d navigate this new road we’re on.
I have been teaching this series on “The Peacemaker – a Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict.” We had done this book once several years ago, and I remember it being very good, and the class was filled with people sharing their stories and other Christians piping in with how they might handle their exact situation. See, people aren’t all the same in how they handle conflict. My husband and I are total opposites when dealing with conflict. I am the “Let’s sit down and talk about it,” and he’s the “No, some things are better left unsaid – let’s ignore it.” Then that gets me all fired up with the “And that’s why we’re here – because no one would talk about it!” The book uses lots of examples of inheritance type fights and how families who had always gotten along now can’t reconcile with each other because of hurts or hidden agendas or the things that can come out when financial issues get involved.
Isn’t it funny that when you are teaching about something, that’s when it hits you where you live? The last two months have been fraught with conflict in my life – and I’m talking the kind of thing that keeps you up not one night or two nights but entire weeks at a time. I feel like I haven’t slept since December. You know the deal – you lie awake analyzing and arguing your side of the situation, praying in between your mind rationalizing your side of it. This study has helped me so much – it truly has. The whole theme of the book is to arrive at ways to deal with conflict that glorifies God. And you think, WHAT? How can God be glorified in conflict? The only way God is glorified is when His people act in ways that He has taught them. And YES, you can act in those ways during conflict.
There is a little graph in the book called “The Slippery Slope of Conflict” which gives several unworkable ways to deal with conflict: Escape responses of denial, flight or suicide; Attack responses of assault, litigation or murder. The peacemaking responses are: Overlook, reconciliation, negotiation, mediation, arbitration and accountability. I was able to meet with a family this week and try to reconcile them one to another. I have to tell you, it went exceptionally well, and I think all of us left this hours-long meeting with hope. At least I did. There was no yelling and screaming, but there was a lot of truth spoken of things that had been done that were going to take a lot of apologizing and amends-making and time of healing before these wounds are truly healed. But without that truth being spoken, I’m not sure that there would have been hope for healing, because the one party wouldn’t have specifically known what they’d done or what was expected to be done to make things right. We made lists of “Amends to make,” lists of expectations, lists of things to watch out for, and those lists became the plan of action. To me, when you have a plan of positive action, you have hope for the future, not just that depressed “don’t know where to turn and don’t think this will ever be better” weight on your head.
I know you’re wondering why I’m going down this road, but as I see drama unfold on Facebook and in the world and hear constantly about feelings being hurt and people being defriended and attacks against each other, I have to think “Where is God in this?” If we are a Christian (I mean a true worshiper of Jesus Christ who has received salvation and is headed to heaven), isn’t our job to love others, to bring others to a relationship with Christ? It is not our job to divide and conquer. It is not our job to point out others’ faults. It is not our job to embark on political rants that do nothing but divide. It is not our job to gossip about who did what. It is our job to try to show the world that our lives may have conflict, and we may have trouble just like everyone else does, but we can deal with it in ways that honor God and do not destroy people.
When teaching this class to my young people (ages 18 to 25), we began to talk about these escape responses, and I was not surprised to learn that several in my class had thought of suicide, even attempted it. When the trouble of this world seems to surround you, we MUST be the church – we MUST be the arms of Christ – we MUST be the love that gets around the “I’m right and you’re wrong” attitudes we see so often. I pray that God brings a spirit of healing on our nation, as I believe it’s going to take something supernatural to conquer these divisions across our America. I believe I may have found a calling here as well, to try to be a mediator for people who have division in their homes or their churches or their extended families. So if you would like a free negotiator, sign me up – I’d be glad to try to help! Let’s pray that God heals our land….
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.