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

 

Wee Little Man

The chief among publicans was detested by many for his fraudulent practices (he stole from the poor to support his selfish desires). Still, even defined by his abhorrent actions, there was room in Zacchaeus’ heart for more – something that was honest.

Jesus’ words, through the preaching of John the Baptist at the Jordan, provided that “more” and honesty that he was looking for. He was stirred through conviction to repentance. He was stirred so greatly that he begun the process of righting his wrongs with others. That is, giving back to the poor four times as much as he stole from them.

Zacchaeus’ path toward restoration did not end with rebuilding the broken relationships he helped to create. It led him to seek the presence of Jesus.

This took guts. It takes gut not to become satisfied only in restoring our relationship with others. It takes guts to move beyond that peace and satisfaction and take a daring course of action to gain a clearer view of the Savior or move into a deeper encounter with Him.

Zacchaeus had guts.

His search for a clearer view of Jesus came at the right time as Jesus was scheduled to pass through his home town. Zacchaeus climbed a tree to glimpse the Savior and when their eyes connected, Jesus instructed him to come down because He was going to his house.

Jesus, the Holy One was going to the house to spend time with one who was far from holy.

Let’s pause. Long before Zacchaeus was led to climb that tree to see Jesus, God had already carefully planted that tree and nurtured it until the day it was needed. He provided a way for Zacchaeus to gain the advantage of seeing the Savior long before he even acknowledged his heart’s desire to see the Savior. That was grace in all its glory then (love given when he didn’t deserve it, before he needed it). And this grace is still working behind the scenes for us in this moment.

It’s comforting to know that when I am finally honest with myself and the Holy Spirit, God will provide a solution or way to help me gain a clearer glimpse of Jesus. For, only when our hearts are susceptible to divine influences and awakened with a genuine desire for a life that is better, can God begin aligning people, places and opportunities in our path, according to His will, to lead us closer to Him.

Shell-shocked, Zacchaeus made his way down and led the way to his house.

Salvation had come to Zaccheaus’ house as stated by Jesus.

The Savior’s visit and blessing not only fell upon Zacchaeus but it touched and impacted all who lived in his house too. That’s how far reaching the power of God’s love is – when we allow Jesus’ love into our homes or “hearts”, He not only blesses us but those whom we interact with daily as well. His blessings to us, overflow to those within our circle of influence.

If there be some relationship that we have sustained with everything but integrity, the Holy Spirit is able to come within us, transform our thinking and being, so that we can right those relationships or restore them to complete health. But before this happens, our desire for change must be genuine and our hearts must be open and vulnerable to the Spirit’s convicting, leading and healing. And even before that happens, God has already provided a solution before there is a need. His love brings what He does behind the scenes, what the Holy Spirit does in our lives and what we do in the lives of others, together….beautifully and perfectly.

“Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6: 8

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