I have been working on a series of posts for this blog for the past couple of weeks. I keep getting interrupted, but such is the season. In the midst of letting God’s joy splash all over me and my family, I was faced with a little blip. This blip has nothing to do with Christmas per se, but I felt God nudging me to share my lesson through it. There are times in our lives when we are wronged, in some way, by people close to us. This is not restricted to those who are in our close family and friends. Sometimes we are wronged by our extended circle of friends or associates in a way that has a lasting effect. It is during these times that we can find our minds improperly focused. Let me set a stage.
You are involved with a group. The group leader is a person you respect and find joy in knowing. A negative situation occurs and the group leader makes decisions and/or statements without gathering the facts resulting in a tumultuous situation that gains strength faster than a downward spiraling plane. In advertently, you get sucked in to the airstream. You didn’t see this coming; not even for a second. Blindsided, you feel a twisting and turning in your stomach that makes a taffy pulling machine look calm and peaceful. After seeking some wise advice and prayer the gut wrenching begins to dissipate. You call the group leader with a resolve that you will handle the situation with God’s words rolling off your tongue. The call goes well and you feel an assurance that the group leader has understood the facts that pertain to you. You go on with life as usual. After a few weeks of life as you know it, you make a friendly call to the group leader for catch up chat. Then the anchor comes crashing on your head pushing you to the ground. The group leader is slinging accusations that cannot be backed up and using manipulative and unkind words towards you. Once again caught off guard, God catches you and gives the right words and attitude to handle the call. You know God is working through you because inside you are really screaming that there is no basis, no proof, not even a shred of sense behind what is being dished out to you and the words coming out of your mouth are not your own. You have done none of what is being relayed to you. You are thinking, “This is my friend/associate. How could anything have entangled me in this web of turmoil? Surely, if she stopped and thought about anything logically she would see clearly that all the assumptions she is making in her head are not valid. How can I convey this to her?” Then a calm sweeps over you and you realize some people are so emotionally charged that they are unable to see the truth in intense adversity. God leads you to walk away quietly.
In prayer you thank God for His grace and intervention, yet ask why there is still a “bad” feeling left behind. You continue to pray for your group leader to find resolution in calamity. Not too much later you realize the relationship will never be the same again; then comes the distance. You continue to work through this over time and finally come to a place of peace. Some many months later you find out that the group leader has been speaking poorly about you and has tried to damage you in some way. Obviously it has not had an effect, because there hasn’t been a change for you. Or has there?
Within a few days of hearing this news, you are compelled to do some investigating. You find that there is truth in that the group leader has been speaking out against you. Peace is gone. You find yourself bubbling inside with feelings of anger, resentment, disappointment, and being unjustly judged. Now, you begin asking God what happened and how can you demonstrate your innocence to the group leader once and for all. Stop.
The story needs to go no further. We have all been faced with issues like these throughout our lives. I used this type of illustration because it is neutral and can easily be adapted to a neighborhood, family, office, utility company, church, support group, contractor, and the like. It happens with family, extended family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, associates, athletic clubs, church groups, boards of directors, community organizations; frankly it can happen with any relationship. We have all been the one who has been unjustly judged at one time or another. I know I have. Some situations are more intense and emotional than others. There is no complete prevention from these situations from occurring in our lives from time to time. However, we can handle ourselves in a Godly manner that will lead us to ultimate peace.
Our focus should first and foremost be on God. How would He have you handle the situation? He would guide you to gather the facts. When you do not have concrete facts you cannot handle a situation appropriately. More often than not facts come over time. This means that we should not react immediately, but instead wait on God to reveal the picture in its entirety. This may take a few hours, days, weeks, or months. It can be difficult for us to work in God’s time when our human internal mechanisms tell us we have to be moving every moment. In gathering the facts the focus is on the root issue; not specifically the root issue with the situation, but the root issue for you. Why are you so upset? Why is your mind crowded with thoughts all during your waking hours with the situation? Likely you will find it is because you believe you have been wrongly accused or interpreted and you want the truth about yourself to be known. But think about this? God isn’t necessarily concerned with the situation as much as helping you process through it.
Ok. So you have been wrongly accused. What are the facts surrounding that? Have you said or done something that could have been misconstrued? Can you see how the other person(s) involved may have gotten the wrong picture? The bottom line is that you cannot judge others justly until you can honestly judge yourself in any given situation. Luke 6:42 tells us that we need to take the speck out of our own eye before we can help remove the plank from our brothers’ eye. So the first step is to be transparent before God. Lay the situation out to Him including your own faults. This is not a condemnation of the other person’s involved but an examination of the situation. My children have given me more opportunities to humble myself before Him than I care to mention. Without this step you will not have the ability to handle the situation appropriately. The fact is that there is no hope in condemnation. Don’t rush this step, as it can be the one that really gives you wisdom to deal with the facts. Once you have a clear understanding of a situation God will give you the ability to react correctly. You will avoid two pitfalls: 1)Making assumptions, because you will have looked at yourself and become transparent before God and 2)Judging them, because you will be too busy reflecting on yourself.
The next step in the process is my favorite. You need to ask God to clean you out. Psalm 51:10 instructs us to ask God for this cleansing and a renewed mind and spirit. When we ask for a renewed mind and spirit we are asking for Him to fill us up with His mind and spirit, casting out all our human dispositions. The reason this is my favorite is that God has worked me through so many situations, large and small, by filling me up with His goodness. I often find that I can see things in a situation that I didn’t before. I have many testimonies of this with my husband, children, friends, and others. I find that my resulting feeling for others involved is one of compassion. I find that I have a new set of eyes and a new heart that leaves me feeling relieved of any negative thoughts. This is a correct and Godly emotion that is a direct result from following the process that God sets before us. Once you have come to this place you will find that the Holy Spirit brings to your mind the correct way to move forward with the situation, but be aware that the Holy Spirit may also let you know when you are not to readdress the situation and simply let it go. Sometimes I have found this difficult. You see, like many women, I am a fixer. I want to make everyone happy. I put myself in the place of a wind up Barbie Doll to make everything and everyone around me satisfied. This is a dangerous place to be in, because more often than not, I end up handling this my way instead of God’s. It is during this time that I need my mind to be even more focused on allowing God to use the Holy Spirit to give me the correct thoughts and actions for the situation. My friend Kathy often tells me that this is when we need to have a single minded focus on God and that times of quiet and silence in His presence are the way to open ourselves to God’s will for us in any given situation. I couldn’t agree more. Through your new eyes you will see the other person(s) involved from a point of meekness, which is a Godly trait. This will allow you to see where the person(s) is at. You cannot restore anyone unless you know where they are positioned.
Once you have processed through all of the above you will be in a place to judge other’s in the situation justly. I bet you are thinking, “Hey, we aren’t supposed to judge others.” This thought is often taken out of context. Judging others in a negative way is the pit of condemnation. This we must steer clear of. However, God instructs us to be discerning in all situations. The word judge in Luke 22 means evaluate. At this point you will be able to appropriately evaluate the situation and the person(s) involved. This means that you can clearly see where God is leading you to the resolution. Again, this resolution may lie within you only. If God is leading you to address the situation or the person(s) involved you will have a clear understanding of how to do so without offense. You will be in a place to counsel others and help them remove the plank for their eyes. Wisdom always comes from following God’s processes and will for our lives.
At this time of year, I often hear people discussing adversities that involve others and that they are struggling with. Christmas is a time of renewal. We have a focus on the greatest gift, the birth of Christ, and can be renewed by the facts of His purpose for us. Take time this season to allow God to renew your mind and allow you to work through any issues, conflicts, or situations that you may have in your life. Perhaps they are ones that you are only dealing with internally; they are no less worthy of putting at His feet. God wants to transform you into the image of Christ, and He will if you will only ask Him into your heart and follow His process.
These are my thoughts.