Maybe it’s this way for everyone, but I feel like since I’ve picked Peace to be my word for 2012, I notice it everywhere. Perhaps if I picked “patience” or “focus” I might feel like those words were all over God’s creation for me to notice. But seriously the idea of, the mention of, or the need for peace is everywhere. Currently I’m working on being at peace with the circumstances of my life, trying not to micromanage every little detail as it is not mine to micromanage. I’ve also been ruminating (Can I pause to share with you that I learned the word “ruminate” from the movie Aladdin? Truth. Anyway.) on the nature of peace and conflict between people.
I wish I could share some insightful piece of wisdom with the world to help bring about more peace in relationships, to help minimize conflict. The thing of it is, I’m not always that great at minimizing conflict in my own relationships. In a recent conversation with a girlfriend, we were musing about how strange it is that we have so many relationships in our lives that go so smoothly, but there are a small handful of people who we can’t seem to get along with to save our lives, no matter what we do. I don’t mean to be egotistical, but generally speaking, I don’t think my girlfriend and I are difficult people to get along with. Do you all find that to be the case too? Most of the relationships in your life sail along peachy-keen-jelly-bean, but then like pot-holes in the road, (to mix my metaphors), there are relationships you just can’t seem to figure out and throw you for a loop. There may be a truce or an uneasy peace, but there is not the enjoyment or the casual relaxed friendliness you have with others. The slightest hiccup throws the balance off, suddenly someone’s feelings are hurt, a word is interpreted wrongly, and there you are thinking, “why is this so hard??” The conflict is hard to resolve because you don’t really think you did anything wrong. In fact, you are pretty sure you are right…just as you were the last 12 times this happened. You sit there wondering why the other person is so sensitive, or insensitive, as the case may be. And there is ultimately no peace in those relationships because you walk on eggshells, forever trying to keep the peace – but it doesn’t truly exist.
Do I sound crazy? I bet I don’t. I believe there are more relationships like this out there than we would prefer. The question then becomes: What do we do about it?
Well, my dear friends. I’m just not sure. I think first we deal with ourselves. We all know we can only control ourselves, right? Hate to burst that bubble for you – but you also know that Santa Claus isn’t real, don’t you? Straight-talk Express only here, y’all. So we accept that we only control ourselves. Then, we have to accept that we have a responsibility for some portion of every state of relationship we are in. It didn’t get there just on the merits of that other person we struggle with (as much as we might reeeaaaallllyyy wish it to be so). I’ve had some moments when I can’t figure out exactly how I contributed, but I know I did just by virtue of the fact that I know I can be obstinate and a pill, every now and again. At least once a year. You might should try to avoid me on that day. Just saying. 😉 Your pride is likely kicking in at this point declaring, “heck naw!” It probably wants nothing to do with accepting responsibility. But I suspect that when we accept some responsibility, then we can work on our portion of the relationship, whatever that looks like. Be forgiving? Be humble? Love that person anyway? Be kind and gracious? Let go of our grudge, need to be right, need to be vindicated, etc?
Please hear me, y’all – I’ve have SEVERAL instances to practice this theory in the last 6 months and I really struggle with it. So I’m not trying to be all “Miss Got It Together” over here. I’ve just been thinking about it a lot lately. I want more peace and less animosity in my relationships, but I know it isn’t going to happen magically, or just by my wishing for it. I have unresolved situations that stare me in the face practically daily. I’m aware that my pride is strong and willful. I do not wish to stir the pot with folks so I let the pot sit. But then quite recently, it’s possible that one troublesome relationship has had some concrete poured over the pothole. I did a lot of work with God for the right tools to mix and pour. Let us hope I have the good sense to let the concrete alone so it can solidify. So often I pour and then I come along and put my foot in the concrete before it sets up.
If you are struggling with uneasy peaceful relationships, I encourage you to figure out what you need to do to create real peace in them. It’s just more authentic that way. It’s how we were created to live. It may be hard work to get there, but if I can let my concrete harden, I’ll let you know how worth it the journey is. Hang tight!