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

 

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

He Dealt With REJECTION too…

As social beings we need to feel wanted and valued and being rejected or feeling rejected destabilizes our need to belong, not only wounding us emotionally but unsettling us physically and even spiritually.

With such a strong emotion being a constant feature of adulthood, it is critical that we find ways to deal with the emotion.

No one is well acquainted with the awful emotional pinch of rejection like Jesus. He was made sin to save us from the true effects of sin; came unto His own, fully meeting the description of the Messiah based on what the prophets of old had given, still He was rejected by His own. He was betrayed, abandoned, crucified and buried.

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. John 1: 11

Christ met the prophetic description of who the Messiah would be but failed to meet the expectations of who the people thought their Messiah would be. The people wanted an earthly leader to create and rule an earthly kingdom but Christ came for more than leading temporal earthly kingdoms. He was here to enlist them to be part of a greater, more eternal kingdom — that which is in Heaven.

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Isaiah 53: 3

Even though He preached and worked numerous miracles that made it impossible for anyone to deny His divine worth, He was still rejected.

As telling as the incidences of His rejection were of the people’s closed minds, the methods in which Christ handled the rejection, are worth incorporating in our lives.

His methods will not only help us to cope with rejection but to recover and keep moving in spite of it.

Through several accounts in the New Testament, the religious leaders were intent on exposing Jesus as a pretender and blasphemer.

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Consider Mark 11 and 12. The religious leaders asked Jesus where His authority came from. What gave Him the right to heal people on the Sabbath, teach about God, do miracles, and cast out demons? Who exactly did He think He was—and where did His authority come from? These were trap question (if He said His authority came from God, they could have easily pinpointed that God would not approve of someone who breaks His law; if He said the authority came from Himself, the leadership of the community and crowds would further not believe His claims).

Sometimes our authority and authenticity are questioned by people of influence – people at work, in the community or even in our churches. These seemingly good-natured questions are rooted from rejection.

And it can hurt.

It can hurt to have our calling questioned. It can hurt to have our expertise questioned. It can hurt to be rejected by those you have chosen to work with or minister to.

Jesus’ response to this subtle form of rejection is priceless.  He refused to allow the rejection of others to define Him. Christ turned these moments of rejection into teaching tools to reveal the evil intent of the religious leaders and educate the crowds on God’s great kingdom. He did not engage in a hostile debate with them, but open dialogue as He carefully posed questions of His own to them and awaited their feedback.

When you are rejected by persons of influence, see it as an opportunity to shift their opinion with positive actions; see it as a moment to engage in open dialogue with them to gather feedback that you later can process and apply to your life, if you desire. We must first have an open spirit to do so.

Defensive mechanisms such as denying, arguing, blaming or attacking are natural and normal, but they prevent us from using a seemingly bad situation as an opportunity to learn more of ourselves so that we can enjoy a greater sense of self-awareness and move toward more meaningful self-improvement.

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“Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”

Have you ever heard words like this before from someone you love? I will never hurt you! I will never let you down! They are promises of loyalty by well-meaning close friends or lovers to never let us down or reject us.

Peter was in this position with Jesus.

As he was sitting outside in the courtyard, a servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.” But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. “I don’t even know the man,” he said. A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly (Matthew 26:69-75, NLT)

We have all had someone close who rejected us. Someone whom we grew up with or fell in love with, for whatever reason rejecting us as a person or rejecting  the role we once played in their lives. Out of fear or weakness, they reject us and this form of rejection, stings the most.

It hurts.

For Christ, Peter’s rejection cost Him physical pain as the soldiers, mocked him mercilessly, after Peter denied who his friend was.

 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And they said many other insulting things to him. Luke 22: 64 – 65

What’s telling is that Christ allowed the natural progression toward His death to continue, after that moment. He was taken to Pilot in the morning and everything went downhill from there. See Luke 22: 66 onward and Luke 23. Sometimes, that is all we can do when we are let down by those who are close. We have to just grieve naturally. Let the process come to its own end and move on bravely…if not….gracefully.

Christ also predicted that Peter would deny Him.

Are we this vigilant? Do we possess such a great spirit of discernment where we can look at the patterns of behaviors of a friend and can assume that sooner or later, a form of rejection or let down, will occur?

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So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Matthew 27: 17

But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” Luke 23: 18

The crowd rejected the truth – Jesus and accepted the criminal.

People will often reject the truth that is in front of them, and choose a comforting lie. Jesus simply responded, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That should be our approach when we encounter persons who prefer a sweet lie than a saving truth – pray to God that their eyes may be opened to the truth and they may wake out of their ignorance.

It’s so important to keep in mind that rejection is not necessarily—probably not even usually—a reflection on who we are or the way we present ourselves. Sometimes, we are rejected for unmerited reasons, as Jesus was rejected by the crowd. Other times, we are rejected because we simply remind persons of a phase in their life that they have not accepted, a bad friend who left them disappointed….or because the very values we cherish are different from theirs.

Whatever the unmerited reason of being the victim of rejection – give yourself enough self-care to make it through each day.

Each day is stressed here because every day deserves a different, fiercer approach of loving ourselves.

Every time the Savior interacted with the crowd and experienced some form of rejection, He separated Himself and recharged Himself with the strength and love of His Father.

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5: 16

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Jesus treated Himself with love and compassion; the definition of self-care.

Self-care is a necessity. Of all the methods Christ used while dealing with rejected, this is the most practical – caring for ourselves when we have been wounded.

How do you care for yourself – exercising, recharging with a good book, spending time with someone you love, cooking? Whatever your go to self- care routine or habit is – do lots of it.

As we move forward in spite of the rejection that we face in our daily lives, let us surrender our rejection of Christ and others along the way. And let us not forget that rejection from man isn’t equal to rejection from God or rejection of God.

Love, peace and light,

Dee

(c) 2016, Dentrecia Blanchette

Grace Forgets

for“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” Micah 7: 18.

The story is told of a woman who had reportedly had visions of Jesus. The local elder heard of this and set up a meeting with her.
“Is it true that you have visions of Jesus?” he asked.
“Yes.”
“Well, the next time you have a vision, I want you to ask Jesus to tell you the sins that I confessed in my last confession.”
The woman was stunned.
“You actually want me to ask Jesus to tell me the sins of your past?”
“Exactly. Please call if anything happens.”
Ten days later the elder saw the woman and asked her, “Did you do what I asked?”
“Yes, I asked Jesus to tell me the sins you confessed in your last confession.”
The elder leaned forward with anticipation.
His eyes narrowed.
“What did Jesus say?”
“Elder, these are God’s exact words…I can’t remember.”

When we earnestly seek God and genuinely confess our sins to Him, He forgives us and remembers them no more.

We are repeat offenders, yet, He forgives us. We flirt with other gods, yet, He loves us. We beat ourselves up for our past confessed sins and God remembers them no more. Others remind us of our sins. The Only Judge remembers them no more. The devil plasters before our eyes vivid, dark visions of who we were and what we did in the past, still, God forgives and does not hold them against us. The consequences of past sins are stamped with condemnation. God’s forgiveness is stamped with love. The evil plotting. The house visit. The perfectly crafted lie. The horrid fight. The envy. The deep burning anger. We remember them and often replay them in our minds but God remembers forgiven sin no more.

Scripture testifies to this: Hebrews 8:12 says, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” In Jeremiah 31:34 we read, “…For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” In Isaiah 43:25 it says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”

When the haunting memories of sins committed yesterday overwhelm you, remember that God has not only forgiven you but remembers them no more. His grace doesn’t keep a score card. His grace will never run out. His loving forgetfulness will never expire. His grace doesn’t take a break – it thoroughly forgives and forgets.

Live forgiven this week!