Do you know that I'm grateful for each and every moment of those years? I am! I believe God gave me confidence early on that He would redeem and restore and that our family would grow stronger because of the crushing! There have been so many moments when I had to simply hang on to the promise, because there was no evidence to support my hope. Now, though, I look back and see God's faithful hand accomplishing the beautiful work. I'm grateful.
Now, I'm back.
I need to write again!
I need to process the thoughts in my head.
This morning, I'm considering the idea of unity. I love even the sound of the word. Doesn't it seem like something we should desire? It's an awesome word!
How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.
It would be good and pleasant if we could live together in unity! When will we get there? Why does the idea puzzle us? How do we keep making steps towards it only to see it vanish into mid-air?
I believe it has something to do with disagreements. Well, it absolutely has something to do with disagreement! Somehow, we've come to the conclusion that living in unity with someone that holds different opinions is an impossibility.
One of the reasons I'm so grateful for the story Scotty and I share is that our mess drove us to therapy. There was simply no other way to dig out of the rubble. And, in the safety of several counseling offices we found the freedom to ask questions, to hear answers, and to disagree. Now, Scotty and I agree much more often than we disagree, but the practice really opened our eyes to the reason so many relationships fall apart. No one feels the freedom to hold a differing opinion.
The list of relationships hindered by division is long, but I'm most concerned with family relationships and church relationships. We are facing times when our families and our churches must be unified. I believe we must provide space for those we care deeply for (or those we should care deeply for) to disagree.
Right now, I'm facing this test on a daily basis. There are two growing guys that live with me but no longer believe everything I say is the gospel truth. They have a brain, they know it, and they want to use it! Well, praise God! I do want them to learn how to think. But, often, we disagree! I can tell you that Scotty and I would have handled all disagreements with them differently if we'd not spent a good piece of 5 years on a therapist's couch holding a box of Kleenex. We don't do everything right. But, I'm proud of the times we've been able to really listen to their opinion and agree to disagree! The fact that they currently hold a different opinion than I do on a couple of matters doesn't change the fact that I'm unified with them by my love for them.
In times of disagreement, we are confronted with two options; fight to be right or fight for the relationship. In fighting for the relationship, I've grown to listen more than I talk. Truly, Scotty and I still tie up. We still get frustrated. And, we still wish the other person would change to line up with our personal wants on occasion. But, no amount of talking will change a heart. Only God does that, and it's personal. So, I step back and allow Scotty to relate to His Savior, and I do the same. It feels like I've lost all control, and that's just not true. I never had any control to begin with!
God is sovereign!
He knows it all, and only He really knows what's right or who's right in all situations. As my heart on the subject of disagreement has changed, God has been able to teach me more about Himself. I don't care about being right nearly as much as I used to. I care about being real, and sometimes that means admitting I've been wrong.
What an education it's been! Through disagreement, God has demonstrated the beauty of uniqueness in all of creation. Honestly, we don't want everyone to think exactly alike. That would be awful! Our families would be boring, and our churches would be dead! We need disagreements to remind us that we need a Savior! Left to ourselves, we just keep attempting to bully people into our way of thinking. On our own, we stifle creativity with a "my way or the highway" mentality. Refusing to give God our fear of disagreement, will ensure unity is never achieved. And, we will miss the most beautiful picture of Christ's purpose for His people.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Let's give our opinions, our beliefs, our preferences, and our fear of being wrong to the Lord. Let's join Him in the process. Sure it would take less time to get from here to there if everyone just jumped on board with one person's ideas. But, there would be no unity. People need a voice! We need (I need) to know we're heard. Gifting our relationship with freedom to share opinions without ridicule and rebuke, opens the door for learning, changing, and growing in the Lord. I hope I never feel too old or established to grow in the Lord through the relationships He's given!
We're called to relationships!. What a messy calling! All of our attempts to simplify the process have led to division, dissension, and God dishonoring conflict.
What if an attempt was made for unity?
What if we each took one, baby step towards seeing another person's point of view?
I'm most grateful for the people who've chosen to stay in and fight for a relationship with me. The relationships haven't always been easy, but fighting for unity is always worth it. Anything I've been forced to lay down (pride, my way, the desire to flee, my view of best, pseudo-control) have only been hindrances to my own unity with Christ.
To me, unity means, "I'm in." It means there is a commitment that no matter how hard the road gets, I'm not going anywhere! Do the people in our homes know that? Do our fellow church members feel that security? The process could get messy. Pharisees won't be able to see it through. I want a Christ-like stamina that is willing to link arms, hold hands, and communicate in love with Christian brothers and sisters. Honestly, we just can't afford to do anything else.