Disagree – agreeably and healthily? 

A disagreement is about learning more about yourself and your partner. It is not about winning.

And I am slowly learning that conflict is a necessary evil for it serves as the refiner’s fire in which we are confronted with our fears, blind spots, and selfishness.

Relationships (good or bad) are magnifying glasses that highlight our differences and they are tools that can help us to learn how to love and cherish our partners better and learn of the areas that we have to surrender to God through prayer.

Today, my relationship served as a magnifying glass.

I found myself in a petty, heated discussion with my partner about minor issues. I was riled up on the other end of the conversation before I realized that I was displacing my frustration with my current crucible on my partner.

Sorry B.

I had to pause and tap into my emotional tank to appreciate that the disagreement was about learning more of myself, the power I had given my current crucible and where my partner was emotionally and spiritually.

This disagreement was not about winning.

And as petty and minor as these heated discussions or disagreements may appear, they are powerful enough to create incredible damage to the trust, safety, romance and longevity of any relationship, if they continue for a consistent amount of time.

So how can we prevent relational causalities from taking place when our thoughts differ from those of our partners?

Relax.

When something is said to us, our emotions become highly aroused and we transition into fight or flight modes. This probably explains why most persons aggressively stonewall their partner or ignore the problem or shut down (flight) or defensively throw stones at their partners through hurtful, critical, snide words or actions (fight).

It is always best to relax and calm ourselves, collect our thoughts and decide on a loving approach to handling the issue at hand.
And, relaxing ourselves takes different forms for many of us. A few months ago, my partner shared that he sometimes asks for time to respond to heated discussions so that he can relax and pray. That is his way of centering himself. I practice deep breathing and scriptural affirmations. The approach you use to pause and relax yourself in a God-approved way, prevents you from saying and committing unnecessary words and actions in the moment of conflict.

Listen warmly to what is said and what is not said.

One thing I have learnt during my current relationship is that what is being fought about is just as important as how you are fighting and those two are just as important as the place your partner is arguing from. It is important to remain sensitive to where your partner is coming from.

Try to listen to your partner’s feelings. Appreciate that all conflict stems from a root and sometimes you have to be the bigger person and dig deep within the emotional lagoon of your partner and ask them how they are feeling in the moment.

It may be something that they are not sharing with you that is frustrating and bothering them and through the common act of displacement they are directing their unwanted and unresolved emotions on you.

Knowing where your partner is coming from emotionally can shift your perspective on the entire disagreement.

Check your motivation.

As much as you are to check the place that your partner may be speaking and responding from, it is critical that you assess the place that you are coming from? How are you feeling in this moment? Will the words you choose help or hurt the situation? Is healing or wholeness the motive for confronting your partner or being right and winning to gain an emotional upper hand, your motivation?

Check your motivation and attitude.

Choose your emotion.

Just as conflict is inevitable; it also always presents choices: Will I be defensive or receptive? Humble or self-righteous? Merciful or stubborn?

How we choose to respond determines if we will strengthen the relationship or further chip at its core.

Choose to respond from a place of love and not a place of fear, anger, control or criticism.

Advice from a wise-head

My dad recently shared with me that sometimes we wait until we are in marriage to actually appreciate the role healthy relationships play in our lives. But even before marriage, relationships, especially committed, public ones, are sermons.

Everything that a couple does is a message to the world about God’s love.

I have considered this thought and have been asking myself every now and again, “What message is my relationship preaching to those watching?” What is my relationship saying about God’s ability to work in two different people to operate in love and as one, even when it is not convenient or beneficial? How is my relationship blessing others as it is blessing my life?”

Recognizing that my relationship is more about God than myself, propels me to fight and argue, well and warmly with my partner because THIS is for the glory of God.

Advice from the Word

God’s word also shines light on how we can engage with our partners better while we experience emotional disruptions.

The following scriptural affirmations have guided me and kept me accountable to God’s standard of love when differences surface in my relationship:

Affirmation: I will speak to my partner respectfully and lovingly.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Affirmation: I will not allow my anger or frustration to control me.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27

Affirmation: I will not seek revenge or engage in any form of pettiness or savagery against the one I love.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 ESV

Affirmation: My experience and education may serve as good guides in healthily handling conflict but God is the greatest guide.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:6 ESV

Affirmation: I will not run away from facing issues with my partner. When the time is right and my emotions are settled, we will address the issues together.

Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. Matthew 5:25-26

Love,

Dee

(C) 2017, Dentrecia Blanchette

 

I’m Salty – Sorry. Not Sorry!

Jesus was clear about our purpose on the earth in Matthew 5: 13:

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

All other purposes or visions for our lives should spring from this main purpose.

We were commanded to mix and mingle and share our faith. 
We were created to constantly remain the transformational agent in every scenario.

We are called to be the “salt of the earth” even when we are upset and bitter or caught up in our emotions. 

How does this command manifest itself in our everyday lives?

Salt must be mixed with other substances to work. “Salt must be mingled with the substance to which it is added; it must penetrate and infuse in order to preserve. So it is through personal contact and association that men are reached by the saving power of the gospel. ” Ellen G. White. Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 36. We must show ourselves as friendly and mingle with others to make a lasting impact in their lives. 

Salt preserves. Are we helping to improve a situation and keep decay from happening? 

Salt is valuable. Are our actions, adding value to our relationships?

Salt purifies, softens and melts hard ice. Are our actions bringing out the best in others?

Salt heals. Do our words or actions heal others or prevent the toxicity in their lives from destroying them?

The command to be “salt of the earth” is a high one. Still, it is our main purpose for being. We are to enhance and give meaning to life, and the lives of others. This is why it is imperative that we ourselves be personally transformed from the inside out. For, if we have not been changed, we cannot bring out the “God flavors” of this earth or more realistically within our own every day engagements and interactions.

Unfortunately, if we run from our calling to be salt, we will lose our influence as followers of Christ and be “trampled on”.

“Salt that has lost its savor is like a fruitless tree. It occupies needed space, and it raises false hopes-causing both waste and disappointment. How may we, then, avoid becoming as savorless salt? From the beginning, peoples who have been set aside to be special representatives of God have had a problem keeping God at the center of their faith. And without His being at the center of our lives, we become the center of our own lives. And that is the sure way to unfaithfulness. We are utterly tasteless without the life of Christ flavoring our lives.” Anon.

This week, I am partnering with God to add a little flavour to my friendship circle, on my job, in my relationships, my neighbourhood and in my church. I challenge you to do the same.

Love,

Dee

(C) 2017, Dentrecia Blanchette

Shoreless Influence

Throw a pebble into the lake, and a wave is formed; and another and another; and as they increase, the circle widens, until it reaches the very shore.

So it is too with our influence.

Beyond our knowledge or control, our influence is as far- reaching as eternity.

It is either a blessing or a curse to those in our lives. For, we are all surrounded by an atmosphere of our own,–an atmosphere, that may be, charged with the lifegiving power of faith, courage, and hope, and sweet with the fragrance of love or heavy and chill with the gloom of discontent and selfishness, or poisonous with the deadly taint of cherished sin.

By this atmosphere surrounding us, every person with whom we come into contact is consciously or unconsciously affected.

So what can we say of our influence?

Is it enhancing our inner circles?

Is it reforming or preserving power in the world?

Is it counterworking the destroying, corrupting influence of evil?

Is it reflecting the Spirit of Jesus to those in need?

Ellen G. White says, “Every act of our lives affects others for good or evil. Our influence is tending upward or downward; it is felt, acted upon, and to a greater or less degree reproduced by others. If by our example we aid others in the development of good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn they exert the same beneficial influence upon others, and thus hundreds and thousands are affected by our unconscious influence. If we by acts strengthen or force into activity the evil powers possessed by those around us, we share their sin, and will have to render an account for the good we might have done them and did not do, because we made not God our strength, our guide, our counselor.”

If for some reason you still believe that your influence is insignificant and your obedience to God goes unnoticed, consider our first Shero of the week – Belshazzar’s grandmother.

Belshazzar, king of Babylon and son of Nebuchadnezzar, was in the midst of a raucous party in Babylon, surrounded by a thousand of his lords, his wives and his concubines. In the mist of the party, Belshazzar saw a hand that began to write on the wall with long and elegant strokes. With his knees knocking and his face growing pale and terrified, Belshazzar was unable to understand the mysterious writing.

It was his grandmother who then instructed him to call on Daniel, the faithful Jewish visionary who had guided her husband, King Nebuchadnezzar, through many trials, including hallucinations, dreams and insanity.

Daniel, now an old man, was found, and read the message on the wall.

Belshazzar had forgotten Daniel but because of Daniel’s great influence, the grandmother of the king, remembered him a time of need. And because of her great influence, Daniel was called to the king.

Belshazzar’s grandmother remembered that Daniel had given the king, her husband, a sense of order and God’s presence through his difficult trials back in the day. She had seen Daniel and his friends walk through flames and not be burned; she had seen hungry lions lay down before him when he was thrown to them for food. She knew he was a holy man, one of God’s people.

When everyone in the kingdom had forgotten the influence of Daniel, one woman remembered him and His God.

When everyone was carried away by the terror of the evening, one woman, sober and quietly, used her influence for good.

I am comforted that God always registers the silent good work I am doing. Even though it may not be advertised or broadcasted.

I am also glad that in the right moments, He brings wise counsel to my mind to share with those in need.

No act that we commit is without notice or influence.

And if for some reason you believe that you are too young, too inexperienced to influence an older peer; or too poor, too ordinary to influence someone who is wealthier than you are; or you are too shy, or too uncultured to be used by God, consider the story of Naaman and the servant girl, our second Shero of the week.

Naaman, was a high-ranking military commander, yet it was his servant who led him to be cured of leprosy.

The young servant girl urged Naaman to follow the prophet’s Elisha’s orders to bathe in the Jordan River and because of her influence, Naaman obeyed the prophet and was restored to health.

Ellen G. White says, “Every person is exerting an influence upon the lives of others. We must either be as a light to brighten and cheer their path, or as a desolating tempest to destroy. We are either leading our associates upward to happiness and immortal life, or downward to sorrow and eternal ruin.”

God doesn’t need us to have a high ranking status, qualifications or years of experience to exert a powerful influence on His behalf to others.

He just needs your heart as He needs mine.

Love,

Dee

(C) 2017, Dentrecia Blanchette

Don’t Miss Jesus

Background Reading: Mark 6: 47 – 52

The disciples were in the middle of the sea when a violent tempest came upon them. They were not prepared for it. They didn’t see it coming. They strained their arms rowing with the oars trying to navigate their way through the storm to no success. They tried to keep the water out of the boat to no success. They tried to keep their faith alive, to no success.

This struggle went on for hours and the disciples eventually lost strength as well as hope.

But just as they were about to surrender to the reckless winds and waves, they saw a mysterious figure approaching them on the water. Terror overpowered them and they cried out in fear, thinking it was a ghost. They thought He that was moving toward them upon the white-capped billows of the sea was an enemy.

Their fears were off – for it was Jesus.

Jesus immediately identified Himself, silenced their fears and controlled the situation when He calmly uttered, “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” He then went into the boat and the winds ceased, “and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.” The disciples, and others who also were on board, bowed at the feet of Jesus with thankful hearts, saying, “Of a truth Thou art the Son of God!”

It took a storm for them to declare that Jesus was the Son of God.

Sometimes, we miss Jesus. Sometimes, even after He quiets the storm, we fail to recognize that it was Jesus on our ship all along, taking full command of the situation. We become so focused on rowing to keep our boats afloat and keeping the elements out of our boats that we miss seeing Jesus passing by, ready to help us. Even when He speaks and identifies Himself, we fail to recognize that it is God before us and not the enemy or an enemy.

We have missed too many lessons in grace, answered prayers, or deeper encounters with Jesus, because we remained fretted and focused on the storm that surrounded us.

Lord help me never to miss seeing You.

Jesus had observed the disciples struggling in the storm. He did not take His eyes off of the boat even when the wind and waves tossed it like a rag doll from left to right. It was when they had surrendered to their fears and given up on saving themselves, that Jesus showed up and moved closer toward them. Jesus still operates the same with us today. Only when we have exhausted all our self help options, quelled our selfish desires and subdued our spirits in humility, can we open our hearts to allow something greater and bigger than ourselves to take charge of the situation.

But why doesn’t God just ambush our futile attempts of self-help and save the day?

Because to take away our freedom of choice is not part of His loving leadership.

The violent storm that came upon the disciples was a vast contrast to the day before that almost seemed perfect. If you read verses before our scriptural focus, you’ll realize that on the boat, the disciples were a bit dissatisfied as they were unable to crown Jesus as King. Out of good intentions, they wanted to exalt Jesus for the King that He was. But Jesus did not allow them, clearly because the timing was not right and their plans greatly differed from the plans of His Father – God. The disciples became absorbed in their emotions and it took a violent storm to shift their attention. I am guilty of this. Sometimes I allow afflictions to occupy my mind and absorb my time and attention and it takes God sending a storm of some sort, to help me to refocus on what truly matters or who truly matters.

Lord, thank You for grabbing our attention and shifting our focus on what is necessary….by the storms You send our way.

Some bible scholars hint that the disciples’ experience at sea was a test for the greater storm that would soon preceded — the crucifixion of Jesus. There is little evidence in the bible to validate that thought but it is one we can toy with nonetheless. The storms that we experience now are allowed to toss and twist our life’s boat to prepare us to trust God fully and completely in the time that precedes His return. These current storms are teaching us to give up the unnecessary, clearly recognize His voice, surrender our fears and more importantly our faiths to Christ and allow Him to dwell within our life’s boat, commanding and directing the troubled waters and winds that surround us. Why? For what is done in these days will be done in the days to come. Christ is helping us to form natural habits that will authentically manifest themselves even under great pressure and persecution.

Prayer: Lord sometimes I fail to realize my need to constantly depend on You. I trust that my feet are secure and I shall not be moved. I trust that I am strong enough to handle the storm. But the enemy observes me just as you do and is carefully planning to take advantage of my hereditary and cultivated traits of character, and blind my eyes to my need for You. Help me to hear your voice, see what You are doing in my life and trust You fully. Help me to not miss what you are doing in the storm.

Peace, Love and Joy,

Dee

(C) 2016, Dentrecia Blanchette