Nothing seems to get to me emotionally more than strife. It seems to literally become physical for me when I find myself mixed up in it. There are many obstacles in life that are unavoidable, but strife is something that is created and does not have to be. Strife is so often rooted in hard hearts that hold onto false beliefs, jealousy, old grudges, or preconceived ideas about others’ motives. As hard as I try to avoid getting caught in strife, it seems to manifest itself in my life all too often. Nothing makes me feel more weary than the recognition that I’m in the grips of strife yet again. It makes me feel old and tired.
I sigh as I write this truth of my experience and I reach with my mind for words to describe my hurt. I cannot help but think “if only…” Yet, as long as I live I will be dealing with a world full of people who have free will. Some people seem to become energized by strife and can carry it, grapple with it, and live in it. I simply cannot.
I’ve lived in relationship with many people whom I love over the years who refuse to give strife up, to call an end to it, and to surrender to a better way. I don’t know for sure what the root cause is but I think it must have to do with pride. We all have pride to an extent, but when we recognize our true nature and need for grace, pride diminishes and with it, much propensity for strife.
Many years ago I lived with great insecurity and obsessed constantly over what others thought of me. It was a terrible way to live. I realized that I grew up hearing many of the adults in my life talking about other people in a negative light and making assumptions about others’ motives, thoughts, and intentions. As a result, I became suspicious. I also witnessed a great deal of hypocrisy and so I was never really sure what was real and true. When people were kind to me I remember thinking “I hope they really like me.” I never quite knew what to believe and that was very damaging.
I finally, as an adult, decided I was going to choose to assume the best. I am willing to see reality even when it is ugly but I’m not willing to make negative judgements without ample evidence. When someone is kind to me, I’m going to believe they are sincere. When someone pays me a compliment, I am going to believe they mean it. My goodness what a simple and easy way to live 🙂
So back to the ugliness and pain of strife. I guess the more we desire love and truth the more we will hate strife and deceit. I am amazed at how peacefully I can be living out my day with loving thoughts and sincere prayers flowing gently through my heart to find a troubling storm of strife has been brewing and is coming my way, unbidden and unrelenting.
So as I face yet another storm, I remember the only shelter for my soul. I love reading Psalms and have spent so much time in their sweet counsel and loving embrace in the past 3 years. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 91:4 “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” These words are so true as are all scriptures and I love thinking, in times like today, how The Lord is the judge of the hearts of man and He alone is able and worthy. He sees all! I recognize how we can avoid so much of the strife in this world if we have forgiving hearts. Forgiveness for me now comes naturally toward others when I’ve been wronged because the Holy Spirit is faithful to remind me of my daily need of God’s forgiveness of my sins. Holding a grudge or judging another’s heart is far from me given the state of grace in which I daily walk. God’s grace covers me and I don’t deserve it so how can I withhold forgiveness from anyone?
So when I speak of the strife I’m in it isn’t strife I’ve conjured up toward anyone, it is combatting the strife that comes my way from others when they make judgements about me or someone else I love. I long for all those I love to be free from the bondage of strife that robs them of the freedom and love that God is willing and able to supply to all who surrender.