Look after each other so that
none of you fails
to receive the grace of God.
Watch out that
no poisonous root of bitterness
grows up to trouble you,
Hebrew 12:15 (NLT)
As I cleared out and tossed many outdated files last week, I came across some treasured notes from a couple of friends who are now in heaven as well as a sweet note from someone who hurt me deeply and embarassed me at levels I could never have imagined. I had forgotten she ever spoke this kindly to me…ever.
For a long time, I wondered if there was anything more I could have done to help that relationship…I tried everything I knew to try. I prayed, read books, asked questions, listened carefully at seminars. This note showed me that she knew I had tried. That at some point in our relationship, the kindness I showed to her actually did make a dent.
Sadly, there was a level of crazy in her. I don’t know what else to call it. It affected the way she received many responses of love to her. She didn’t have normal love receptors? I don’t know what it was…truly.
Now, many years later, it is no longer a big thing for me…to prove to myself and others that I did enough, I found that note. Yes, that is my area of crazy…the proving to others thing mostly! I have learned that relationshps really do take two people to thrive! I learned it most clearly in that relationship…in the most painful ways possible!
Cleaning out old files is good for the soul. It reminded me of past experiences, blessings and joys, sad times, painful times. I also came across some sweet and funny notes from my children. Always a treasure!
Difficult relationships that become friendships
It reminded me of meetings and relationships that had been difficult but were redeemed over time. I wanted difficult relationships to change overnight to become close immediately, but it rarely to never happened that way.
Improvements happened slowly and most often as my attitude changed. As I learned to see the person who was difficult through new eyes, the relationship changed. Always. The person rarely changed. Her personality didn’t change, nor did her perspective. But I related to her differently as I saw her differently.
Sometimes, I learned to appreciate the perspective she had that was so different from mine. For example, in meetings that needed some administration, instead of resenting the person who always seemed to make motions for her pet projects, I learned from her. It meant I had to think ahead about which group or organization I would want to give money to if the topic came up. I discovered that the administrator person wasn’t emotional about it. She wouldn’t be mad at me if I made a motion for my pet project. She was glad for other organizations to have money too. That was an eye-opening concept to me!
The rest of us were passively letting one person decide because we weren’t thinking ahead…or learning to make motions! So money was able to be shared with groups I liked as well! And I learned a little more about being administrative.
I’ll never be gifted in that area…ever. I managed to have a daughter or two who are. But I learned how to live within administrative systems. And I stopped feeling resentful of someone by doing something positive so I wouldn’t sit and stew in resentment, another word for bitterness.
Tips on dealing with administrators if you aren’t one…helpful if you are either working with one or married to one…this is free!
I discovered that administrators are rarely emotional about what they do…maybe I should say, good administrators are usually glad to listen to a variety of opinions and are good at dealing with motions.
They don’t want to deal with a lot of emotion so to the degree a person can state things factually and without a lot of emotion or name calling, to that degree, you will be able to deal with a good administrator. You definitely don’t want to be putting them down for their motives. They are doing their job. Feelings aren’t a part of it.
I also developed allies and friendships in the process as I learned to work together with other women in serving our church. Each one had an aspect of ministry she felt especially called to minister to. Because of our different perspectives, we didn’t always agree on each issue, but as we worked and prayed together, we learned to respect each other. We learned to love and honor each other and in so doing, we all grew in friendship as well.
A bonus? It helped as a pastor’s wife. I learned that just because someone disagreed with my husband on an issue, it didn’t mean they were an enemy either personally or an enemy of the church. How they handled their disagreement was often the test of that. This can be helpful for pastor’s wives who are aware of those within the church who aren’t always behind their husband on every issue. This is not your husband’s church. It is GOD’s church. Always remember that!
In what areas do find yourself falling into resentment or competition as you minister?
Have you asked GOD to show you the perspective of the other person so you can learn to see where they are coming from?
Have you talked to the other person to find out more of their perspective?
Where is their gifting, passion for ministry, pain? These will give you insight.
**You will laugh along with me when I tell you that this weekend, I found two more boxes of files and went through them. I found a bunch of good-bye cards from Hanna City, Il when we left in 2008. A few of them had $20 bills in them. I found a total of $100! You sweeties! At the end we were throwing things in boxes everywhere and never got through all of them while I was working in TX this last five years. What a fun bonus to come across! Along with your dear notes were some dollars too. *smile*