My new clarifying question any time there's confusion or conflict:
In what ways are each of our feelings, thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, values, reactions and behaviors reflective of the love of Jesus and the kingdom of God. If and when they are not, how can we lay them aside, repent, forgive and be forgiven, and move forward together?
More simply: How is what's being said and done consistent with Jesus' teaching?
It is our fear of “not enough” that often causes us to stumble. What if instead we embrace God’s declaration of abundant sufficiency. During the wilderness journey from slavery in Egypt toward a home of their own, God provided “enough and more than enough” for nourishment, rest and even to share with others (Exodus 15-18). In Luke 6 we hear Jesus promise this kind of abundance if we will live in His WAY – “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:27-45)
Unfortunately, it is usually only in retrospect that we get to ask these questions. The energy of our internal narratives often carries us forward before we realize what’s happening. (Thanks to Brene’ Brown for clarifying this language.)
But with practice and mutually vulnerable accountability partners we can learn to recognize what’s happening earlier in the cycle. And when awareness comes, we can develop the courage to pause right then and there, to admit our own frailty and ask for mercy and grace to walk forward together in healthier ways.
As kids many of us were told: “When you feel yourself getting upset, count to ten.” This is good advice, but I think it is insufficient. If we aren’t given some constructive things to do during that time, then our frustration or anger or pain simply grow in the void. Ten seconds later our outburst may be worse than it would have been otherwise.
“Pray the pause.” That’s a simple way to say center and ground yourself it your truest being, in God, in life-giving love. Breathe deeply. Search your heart and mind for wisdom and hope. See the same humanity in your adversary and yourself. Ask for the Spirit’s guidance and help. Rest in vulnerability and humility. Pray during those ten seconds.
You don't have to be afraid. "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but rather of the power of love with self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7). We have the power to live this transforming grace.
Whether it is in the midst of chaos or after the storm has passed, we can increasingly allow the love of God to flow into, through and from us. This is a gift God is continually offering to all of creation. God’s mercy, grace, justice, righteousness and love are constantly moving around us, seeking to fill and transform us.
I'd love to hear what works for you in this regard. Let's be companions on this journey toward wholeness and flourishing for humanity and all of creation. Let's start right here where we live.