God said to my heart, “You have the gift of reconciliation.”

That was spoken to me over a year ago, and I didn’t understand it much. I knew that Jesus died to reconcile us to God, but what did that have to do with me?

I’ve always been the kind of person who is distracted to the point of immobility when there is an unreconciled conflict.

I remember being at an event with one of my former bosses. We got a call from human resources on our cell phones to call immediately—the tone was “you are in trouble.” My boss said, “We can’t call now since we are working the conference booth. We will call at lunch.”  It didn’t bother him in the least. But it bothered me a lot.

When I finally was able to call HR and settle the misunderstanding, my boss said, “You couldn’t let it go, could you?” I said, “No, I wanted to make sure everything was right.” I couldn’t rest until it was cleared up. (That isn’t necessarily a good thing, but that’s another post.)

I was thankful the misunderstanding was reconciled.

In another situation, a colleague was very upset with me. Again, this person misunderstood something that happened. He didn’t know I had permission from his boss to plan an event within his event. I was chewed out in front of everyone there. I wanted to defend myself, but instead, I said, “I’m here to serve you—what can I do to make this a good experience for you?” Once we were back in the office, I asked if we could talk through what happened, and this man said no.

I had to leave that misunderstanding unreconciled.

I’ve since learned that I struggled with a fear of man during that season of my life. Fear of man means you care more about what man thinks than what God thinks. That makes anxiety levels rise because you care more about resolving the conflict than asking God what He thinks of it. Sometimes conflict is good. It brings out something that hasn’t been seen so it can be reconciled—either in you or in relationships.

I’ve grown so much since those experiences.

When there is conflict or misunderstanding, I ask God these questions before doing anything else:

  1. Did I do something I need to apologize for?
  2. If God says “yes”: What did I do, and what do I need to do to make it right? If God says “no”: Do I need to do anything, and if so, what?
  3. How do you see this person ? What are they afraid of?
  4. What do you want to say to me about this situation?
  5. What is the enemy trying to do here?
  6. How should I respond to what you’ve shown me today?

Since I’ve stepped out in a greater measure of faith the last few months, I’ve experienced more conflict than I’m used to. It’s been really uncomfortable. I must not be surprised that this has escalated. The enemy knows what has stopped or distracted me in the past. So I must be diligent to overcome without delay. It just seems lately, the season has been about overcoming instead of harvesting fruit.

  • I’ve been accused falsely by friends and foes alike.
  • I’ve been talked about behind my back my friends (and they think I don’t know).
  • I’ve had friends struggle with something and place blame on me for how they are feeling.
  • I’ve had some friends stop returning Facebook messages, texts or calls.
  • I’ve had some folks say there isn’t anything wrong, but they stop making an effort to spend time together.
  • I’ve had some folks post criticizing things on my Facebook wall, but they won’t respond to my request to talk about it on the phone or in person.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Although this doesn’t come as a surprise—considering the enemy wants to divide relationships—it still bothers me. It hurts my heart in a way that makes me sad for them and for me. I want to race to make it right. I want the opportunity to apologize if necessary. I want to be understood. I want reconciliation.

The enemy wants to discourage me (and you) from reaching out.

Because if we reach out and reconcile ourselves to one another, then the enemy loses ground. He wants to keep us judging each other, because it is there that we are more vulnerable to his ideas. They sound like this:

  • That person isn’t healthy, and you don’t want them around you.
  • That person always has drama in their life, and you don’t need that.
  • That person just bugs you, and that is discernment.
  • That person has been in that situation for a long time, so it must be something God is dealing with in them.

What are we really saying when we gossip, slander, don’t return calls and leave conflict unresolved? We are saying, “you aren’t worth it.”

We say we are setting boundaries when, really, we are building walls.

We are to love each other because every person was worth it to Jesus. 

I encourage you to reach out by a phone call or in-person meeting when you know someone has something against you or you have something against them. Maybe it’s not a conflict yet, but a hard discussion you need to have. Be the first and proactive daughter/son of God. Don’t break a commitment, have your say, blame or challenge someone through email. Or text. Or through Facebook. When you leave a note in that way, they are left hanging until it can be resolved.

That doesn’t honor the other person and say, “you ARE worth my time.”

Here are 10 things you can do to reconcile well:

1. Ask God what He sees. God may show you that this person is hurting, and that is why they are acting strangely, depressed, irritating or even overly joyful. Or He may show you something ugly about how you are responding.

2. Ask God what He wants you to say. This one always surprises me. When left to my own ideas, I fall short of handling it in a way that brings a resolution. God knows what is in the other person’s heart. His ideas are always best and never fails.

3. Ask God if He will show you what purpose this has in your life. God may show you that this is an area He wants to grow you in, so He can trust you with bigger responsibility. If you can’t reconcile small stuff, how can you carry the weight of more at work or ministry? Maybe you are in the right, but this situation is meant to grow you in compassion, love or integrity.

4. Don’t let a lot of time go by before making contact or responding. We are never too busy to set up a time to talk. You may not be able to meet right away, but you are able to respond in a timely manner. If you forget, then when you do contact them, let them know you are sorry for the delayed response. And remember, every day that goes by is a day the enemy has an open door to twist the truth and break down the reconciliation process. That doesn’t always mean you have to work something out right away, but it does mean you get it on the calendar right away. Respond to emails or messages within 24 hours.

5. Let them hear your voice and tone by calling or meeting in person. Have you ever heard that more is said in body language than what is said by words? Most things can be resolved when a gentle tone and listening ear are made available. If you can’t do it in person, at least do it over the phone. Take time to listen and respond, not react. Ask a lot of questions like, “What I’m hearing you say is … is that correct?” Or “What can I do to make this better?” Avoid long-winded lectures and advice. Need I say don’t email?

6. Share how the situation has caused you to feel or act. Take responsibility for your responses, and don’t blame them for how you feel, your circumstances or how you’ve responded (that’s your deal, not theirs). Don’t tell them what they need to do to make you okay. By sharing how it affected you, they will automatically get the idea to not do it again. And if they don’t, that is God’s deal.

7. Love them in the way they would want to be loved, not what makes you the most comfortable. Philippians 2:4 says to “Think of others more highly than yourselves.” That means handling reconciliation in the way that makes THEM feel loved. If love is not returned, that’s okay. Because love means not to control someone else’s response. Extend forgiveness fully by making sure they know it’s okay, and not just by saying you’re sorry or “you’re forgiven.” Humility will heal more than winning a debate.

8. Do your best and then walk in peace: “As far as it concerns you be at peace with everyone.” Sometimes you are the one who has to take the first step or not leave with the last word. If you think the conflict is their fault, you may need to ask to hear their thoughts on the situation first. Offer up the idea that the enemy may be messing with you, and you want to know if you are perceiving it right or not. Even if it doesn’t end well, do your best to be at peace with that person.

9. Keep the conversation to yourself. Don’t share the conflict or resolution with anyone else without the permission of the other person. If you’ve made them look bad already, then go back to those people and fix it. Don’t allow others to think badly of anyone else.

10. Rejoice. Praise God for how He worked in and through you. The enemy doesn’t want to hear that you were joyful through this. It’s like sealing the deal. Without your rejoicing, it’s too easy for the enemy to bring back all the things he thinks—it often sounds like, “Oh, I wish I’d said that.”

Reconciliation is a gift, because without it I’d either be handling conflict in my own strength or not handling it at all. As all gifts are responsibilities, I also know I am called to steward it well.

It’s a burden on my heart, so unreconciled things will probably continue to bother me. The moment it DOESN’T bother me? I’ve lost my way.

I carry the gospel of peace. I am the feet that bring the Good News. I long to see the broken restored. I have the ministry of reconciliation.

And you have it too …

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