Full Circle Relationships~

Full Circle Relationships~

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I hate conflict. I’ve always hated conflict. In fact, I believe I spent many of my “young adult” years avoiding conflict as much as possible, especially in my college years, and early in my role as a Pastor’s wife. Yet conflict is often inevitable. For me, the problem with being IN a conflict was that I felt I needed to fix the relationship as quickly as possible. My nature is to want to be friends and friendly with others to the best of my ability; conflict simply makes me anxious and sad.

Making peace, however, is not always resolving the conflict. Sweeping challenges under a rug is not helpful in sustaining long-term quality relationships. Nevertheless, I have been learning over the past 10 years that if I do what I can to bring resolve, even letting the relationship go for a season, it often comes around “full circle” where resolve and understanding are uniquely applied anew. I have been surprised by this many, many times. Watching this take place in my life both takes me by surprise and, frankly, makes me very happy.

I’ve gained a few insights as I’ve pondered all of this and I want to share just a few with you.

  1. In a conflict, especially in the heat of it, don’t say everything you are thinking. Emotions are interesting and can cause us to respond so defensively or angrily that what we say, in the moment, can cause greater harm than the conflict itself. The example of opening a feather pillow, letting the feathers fly out, and then trying to put them all back inside the pillow is a good picture of how the things we say can be impossible to retract. In a conflict it is better to cautious of what we say if we desire the relationship to have resolve one day.
  2. Be willing to let things go. In many of the full circle relationships I have experienced I have not been “justified” nor have the other parties necessarily apologized. When I look over all the goodness that has surrounded my life, all the blessings…it just doesn’t seem right for me to hang on to disagreements, necessary endings, or misunderstandings. I want to move on, beyond the conflict and be ready to forgive. Life is too short to harbor anger and resentment. Anger changes me; it doesn’t make me the best version of myself!
  3. Learn from the conflict. What was my part? What could I have done better? What should I have avoided? How can I grow from this challenge? My dad used to use the statement about finding a “pony in the poop”! J There is always something to gain from our challenges if we are willing to really dig for it! And, there are always two sides to a relational challenge.
  4. Use the conflict to grow in grace.   Conflicts are real, and sometimes, relational challenges can cause really deep hurts; real scars. And yet as I look at the grace I have been given over and over and over again; unmerited favor, I am challenged to practice grace with those around me. Some situations require more time on my knees but at the end of the day bitterness never wins.
  5. It’s okay to have boundaries in a challenging relationship. There are times when a relationship comes full circle and there is peace where there has been conflict. But~ the relationship may require more caution, even good boundaries in the days forward. Boundaries can be wise if they are applied with kindness and understanding. I have relationships that I know can be toxic; in those instances I will limit the amount of time I spend in connection with them.
  6. Last of all~ never slam the door shut on a relationship.   Honestly, life can be surprising. People Change. Time changes people. Challenges bring fresh understanding. We NEVER know what can and will happen in a relationship; keep the possibilities in front of you.

Reconciliation is at the very heart of God; starting with our reconciliation with Him. His heart is that His people would walk together in peace and understanding. However, this can prove to be a real challenge as we do life with others. In families, in the workplace, in the church, even in the community; conflict can happen. Hopefully you will see relational challenges in your life come full circle in the days ahead as you practice caution with your words, grace and forgiveness, and are willing to own your part! Dr. Phil always says “This situation needs a hero; will it be you?”

Abundantly Grateful~

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Today when I awoke from my soft, comfy bed I made my way to the kitchen for a cup of warm coffee.  I sat down in a quiet space and picked up my Bible, which I am free to leave sitting on my coffee table~ I read and prayed freely.

Later in the day I drove on safe roads while I made my way to a grocery store with an incredible assortment of groceries; never once did I have to fight anyone for the “last” of any item.  So many choices.

Towards afternoon I had the freedom to enjoy a few television shows without having government control what I could watch; even read a fun magazine freely. Not once did I fear for my safety today!

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Today I didn’t wake up in a worn-torn area where bedding and warmth are impossible to find.  I did not have to drink dirty water out of an old plastic container because there is nothing else available.

Today I didn’t have to rummage for a few pages I had found from an old bible; hiding away in a dark corner just to read their words of life; praying not to get caught.

Today I did not have to walk to the old dump to rummage for bits and pieces of edible food along with many others without viable ways to feed their families.

Today I wasn’t inundated with Government rants and photos of leaders plastered on every large building wall. I wasn’t warned that if I wasn’t 100% compliant with my Government I would stand the chance of losing my life.

This is why I am thankful to be an American.  Though we are not a perfect nation and we are continually challenged with ongoing issues; we are still enjoying so many freedoms that others around the world would never dare to dream for!

This 4th of July~ I am abundantly grateful for those who fought for my freedom.

She danced~

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I love the Christmas season!  I love celebrating the birth of our Lord.  I love the fun, the food, and all the wonderful traditions, but I really love singing Christmas carols! Last night was so enjoyable as the Worship Team at my home church led us in some amazing renditions of all my favorite songs; it was wonderful.

However, singing the songs wasn’t the only element that filled my heart last night.  What also filled my heart was this adorable little girl standing in the front row with her daddy; filled with all the awe and wonder you would hope for a little child to have. As the songs were sung she danced and danced and danced.  This precious little one didn’t care who was looking, if her moves were acceptable, if someone was bothered by her passionate little dance.  Nope~~ she just danced with all the joy that was inside her little heart.

Watching this sweet display brought me to sweet tears as I realized that many of us, myself included, have lost the freedom to simply “dance” in our lives.  So often we worry about how we look, what others may think; we fear the thought of criticism. Have we lost our sense of awe and wonder? Have we become so adult, so appropriate, that we rarely “dance” in life at all?

I have been pondering all of this since last night and an interesting verse came to my mind: Matthew 18:3 says  “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Hmmm….  Perhaps it’s time to “dance” again!

Dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt.
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.
– William W. Purkey