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

 

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

Who’s the Messenger?

“To be forewarned is to be forearmed” is a saying that my mother constantly references.

It simply means that if you know about something before it happens, you prepare yourself for it.

And God in His great love for us always gives us adequate warning and insight to prepare for an impending trial or circumstances that have the potential to shake the very core of our faith, if we are caught off-guard and unprepared.

Several references are made throughout the bible of God providing deep insights to common individuals about something that will happen in the future. These individuals were tasked with warning or sharing the revelation that they received from God with those within their circle of influence.

Some well known examples include Noah, Jeremiah and Nathan.

Noah was tasked with warning the heinous society that he lived in about the impending flood (Genesis 6); Jeremiah was also called to minister to a decaying nation and preach a word of reformation and revival. Still, his message was mocked and ignored and he received more failure in his ministry than success; Nathan also served as a messenger with a harsh truth to King David in the midst of his adultery scandal.

Each of these messengers had two things in common:

1. They were given a message from God

2. They obeyed God, even if it risked their lives, brought them little success and disfavour from those around them

In 2 Chronicles 20, we encounter two types of messengers.

1. The people who told Jehoshaphat that the armies were encamped around the city and were preparing for war. It was the message from the small group in the beginning of the chapter, that alerted Jehoshaphat of the danger ahead and led him to call a period of fasting and praying throughout the nation.

There was also Jahaziel, son of Zechariah, who was filled with the Holy Spirit and declared a promise of comfort in the midst of the emotional uproar:

Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation;

And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.

Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you. (Versus 14 – 17)

It was Jahaziel’s revelation that provided Israel with the comfort and direction they needed to defeat those who were coming against them.

God used these messengers to speak to Jehoshaphat. And He still uses messengers in our lives to alert us of something that we are unaware of. He also uses messengers to offer us spirit-led direction and comfort so that we can face our varied warlords without fear and in confidence.

These messengers are mere tools in God’s plan to always keep us one step ahead of the enemy and ahead of those who work against us.

Interestingly sometimes, we mistrust the messenger and receive the message with skepticism. Other times, we reject the message entirely.

I want to encourage you to allow that skepticism to direct you to genuine prayer with God so that His Spirit can confirm what the messenger shared.

When God reveals, He always confirms. And what He confirms, always aligns with His word.

My testimony: A few weeks ago, God ushered a messenger into my life with a message of an impending plot against me. I was stunned as I was hurt. And like Jehoshaphat, I rallied my prayer circle and we fasted and prayed about what was revealed. Throughout that period, God confirmed that the alert that I received was genuine; He also revealed clear instructions that I would have to follow. Since then, I have followed His instructions and He is still dismantling and disrupting the plans that were strategically set to harm me.

This situation has deepened my appreciation for the creative ways God forewarns and forearms us.

Your charge: There is a messenger in your life who God has equipped to speak comfort and wisdom into your present situation as well as the next. Embrace those messages. Spirit-proof them through prayer. Remain obedient and comforted and remember, this battle is not yours to win, but God’s.

Love,

Dee

(C) 2017, Dentrecia Blanchette

Positioning Yourself to Win like Jehoshaphat

If you’ve ever had opposition from external forces desperate to destroy your life, your reputation and your faith, you could relate to Jehoshaphat’s crisis found in 2 Chronicles 20.

His enemies, the Moabites, Ammonites and the Meunites joined forces to make war against him. The vandal horde was planning an invasion to destroy Judah and humble the nation in the eyes of the other nations.

News of this plan of invasion reached a messenger of Jehoshaphat who told the king of the startling news:

“A huge force is on its way from beyond the Dead Sea to fight you. There’s no time to waste—they’re already at Hazazon Tamar, the oasis of En Gedi.” (verse 1, 2)

Shaken, Jehoshaphat prayed.

This courageous leader, who had spent years strengthening his armies to meet any enemy, recognized that this crisis warranted a different fighting approach. To win this battle required earnest prayer.

“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” Alfred Lord Tennyson

Jehoshaphat poured out his soul to God in prayer and he ordered a nationwide fast and prayer. And, the people of Israel united themselves to seek God’s help through prayer.

“Then Jehoshaphat took a position before the assembled people of Judah and Jerusalem at The Temple of God in front of the new courtyard and said, “O God, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven above and ruler of all kingdoms below? You hold all power and might in your fist—no one stands a chance against you! And didn’t you make the natives of this land leave as you brought your people Israel in, turning it over permanently to your people Israel, the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived here and built a holy house of worship to honor you, saying, ‘When the worst happens—whether war or flood or disease or famine—and we take our place before this Temple (we know you are personally present in this place!) and pray out our pain and trouble, we know that you will listen and give victory.’ “And now it’s happened: men from Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir have shown up. You didn’t let Israel touch them when we got here at first—we detoured around them and didn’t lay a hand on them. And now they’ve come to kick us out of the country you gave us. O dear God, won’t you take care of them? We’re helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us. We don’t know what to do; we’re looking to you.” (verses 5 – 12)

As their united hearts were lifted toward heaven and waited for a word from God, Jahaziel, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit declared from the Lord:

“Don’t be afraid; don’t pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God’s war, not yours.” (verse 15)

When they heard this word, with a grateful heart, Jehoshaphat knelt down and thanked God in prayer. All who were present did the same.

The next morning, Jehoshaphat sent out the army and appointed a choir to lead the army.

As soon as they started praising, God set ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir and in a state of confusion, they attacked each other and all ended up dead.

When Judah came to the wilderness of Tekoa, they saw only dead bodies.

God had won the battle for them as He had promised.

This will be your testimony.

Although external forces will come against you to destroy you or bring you to shame, they will not win. Because, they are not fighting against you. They are fighting against God. And any force, group, body or person that comes against God loses.

“There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord, Nor are there any works like Yours.” Psalm 86: 6

They may seem stronger and more powerful than you. Even still, they will not hurt you. Because they are not fighting against you. They are fighting against God. And any force, group, body or person that comes against God loses.

“Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.” Exodus 15: 6

Like Jehoshaphat, even if you are terrified and shaken…pray.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5: 14, 15)

Summon all of heaven and pour out your heart to God. Don’t skip any detail. Tell Him everything and most importantly take hold of His promises.

When you’ve done this, start praising God.

Move through your days as normal, but still praise God.

And while you praise Him, God in His powerful way, dismantle the plans of those who are working against you. He will confuse their efforts. He will stop them in their tracks, killing any plan that was in place to hurt you, destroy you and shame you.

This is the comfort we have as believers: even when we are surrounded by adversity and sheer wickedness, when we genuinely pray, God will do for us, what we cannot do for ourselves: Win the war.

Love,

Dee