It’s a sad fact of life you only truly know whether you’ve changed or not once the pressure is on. The truth is usually exposed when life smacks you in the face and leaves you flat on the floor.
You can talk all you want about the lessons you’ve learned and how you’ve grown and matured, but if it’s not demonstrated in your actions, then you’ve not changed at all.
When I took my writing sabbatical, I learned a whole load of new lessons. About my identity, calling, and about the values which really matter.
But I knew I’d only discover how much I had changed when the pressure was on.
In the past when times of conflict came, I’d blamed God for all which had gone wrong in my life. I’d passed the buck onto the divine for every negative experience or circumstance – small or big. It was my default position when conflict came my way. Anger. Bitterness. Resentment.
Hatred towards God.
I’d had my sabbatical. Learned some lessons. So how I would I respond now?
It was a Monday morning. One of the most stressful weeks of my life, for many reasons. I had an epileptic fit, but went into work anyway. I barely remember the journey as I was still recovering from my fit (going to work after a fit, not a good idea). I was sent home, because I was ill.
When I got home, my internet was down. Which meant I couldn’t save work to my dropbox, nor post my blog post I had scheduled for the day. I spent 90 mins on the phone to my internet company hearing the same argument over and over again, explaining myself time and again until my voice began croaking.
I needed to vent. Like crazy.
But when I went to my safe place, a private group of friends online, and vent, this time I did something different.
I didn’t blame God. Instead, I accepted the world we live in is broken and difficult circumstances happen from time to time, to all of us. I remembered there’s another supernatural being who wants me to fail.
I remember God is on my side. And when I’m praying during a worship meeting that evening, I pray with God’s authority. I tell the enemy to get away in Jesus name. I invite the presence of God into my heart. I thank God for all the good things He’s given me.
Then, I hear my friends respond to this, and tell me I’ve changed. They tell me I’ve moved on from where I am before. And another friend offers to give me some accountability and an opportunity to make real progress in dealing with a long-term problem. Progress leads to more progress.
So what was the secret? What changed?
I’m encouraged and positive about the future, because I know that I’m no longer defaulting to blaming God. When the pressure is on, I’m coping a lot better than before. I know my time away, discovering my identity, has transformed my heart, and got me back in tune with my divine journey.
I still don’t get it right all the time. I have bad moments. But I’m in a much healthier position than I was before. I’m improving. And there are two key lessons I’ve learned from this experience. Two ‘secrets’ to dealing with conflict in our lives:
1) Remind yourself God isn’t to blame
It’s easy to blame God for our suffering. It’s almost a default mechanism in our culture – and it tells us a lot about who we believe God is. But the reality is God’s not capable of evil. We may not understand why everything happens, but God doesn’t make it happen.
Bad things will happen. Small and large. But because the world is broken, not because we’re being punished. (you can tweet that).
2) Realise you have the power to choose your response
We may not always be able to control what circumstances occur, the events which transpire to cause us conflict. But we do have the power to choose how to respond. And we can choose either bitterness, anger & cynicism, or to hold on to hope. To cling on by our fingertips to the hope we all have if we want it. The choice is ours.
So today, take some time to reflect on how you deal with conflict. How often you blame God for your circumstances. Whether you’ve chosen hope or cynicism.
Choose not to blame God and recognise there’s someone who doesn’t want you to succeed. Choose to recognise in a broken world bad things happen
Choose hope instead of bitterness and cynicism.
Are you with me?
Questions for Reflection:
What’s your instinctive reaction to conflict or pressure?
Do you blame God for what goes wrong in your life? Why?
What practical steps can you take today to take control of how you respond to pressure?
Let me know in the comments below!
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(Picture Source: mourgeFile)
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