WHETHER in the morning newspaper or on the evening newscasts, the media tell us of confrontations all the way from world governments to our local areas. While we lament such conflicts, and may even pray about them, it's often only when conflicts come close to our own domain that we feel hurt or personally involved. It seems to hurt more when clashes come from family members or friends or even co-workers. Misinterpretation or misunderstanding may trigger an incident, but it seems as though whatever the ca use, once accusations erupt there's no way to compromise. How can we handle such situations?
An effective way to restore brotherly love to such apparently intractable situations is to turn to the Bible for guidance. The Scriptures tell of many discordant situations that were adjusted through earnest prayer. Twins Jacob and Esau are an example of how animosity between family members was healed. We are told in the book of Genesis that Jacob prayed with great earnestness all night before being reunited with his brother. Both the Old and New Testaments give wonderful insights that help us deal with jarring instances in day-to-day living. In Luke's Gospel, for example, Christ Jesus tells his followers--including us: ``Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.'' A little further on he adds that God ``is kind unto the unthankful.
Consecrated and steadfast prayer turns us away from self--from personal feelings, thoughts, or hurts--and toward the Father of all. Prayer includes a quiet listening to God, good, that prepares us to receive His direction. Such hearing must be followed by obedience, of course, for listening without action is useless.
Confrontational situations, then, can be seen as an opportunity to acknowledge that differing human beliefs and opinions will yield to God's divine will when one's motive for prayer is to seek and to live in accord with good.
In her writings, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has much to say about human relationships. She encountered harsh, unyielding, and unjust circumstances while establishing Christian Science. And so her insights come from her own experience.
In her Message to The Mother Church for 1902 she tells us: ``Brethren, even as Jesus forgave, forgive thou. I say it with joy,--no person can commit an offense against me that I cannot forgive. Meekness is the armor of a Christian, his shield and his buckler. How often--and how foolishly--we feel ``I must have said or done something for so-and-so to have acted (or reacted) in such a manner!'' But we don't have to be tempted to assign blame--to ourselves or anyone--when we let meekness be our armor.
One time I was confronted by a co-worker on a project. She evidently thought it was high time for someone to tell me off, and she proceeded to do this very thoroughly. I turned to walk away but instead found myself standing still. I had recently experienced two healings through prayer. I was very joyful about the healings, as you can imagine. As I stood there while this person berated me, the thought came to me very clearly, ``The healings you've had prove God's power; they prove that man cannot be touch ed, has never been touched, by error in any guise or form.''
When the tirade ended, it was as though I had been standing behind a glass wall that the words hit and fell to the ground without touching me. I wasn't angry, hurt, or upset. I was convinced that I have never been touched by human opinions. I did, however, feel it was important to examine what the person had said and to correct in my own thought and behavior whatever I was doing that was not obedient to God's will. I prayed, quietly and humbly, until I felt sure that I had done this. I also realized that
I needed to see this person, also, as the perfect spiritual offspring of the one Father, God, as pure and as loving as I desire to see myself. Very shortly I was able to offer to do something helpful for this woman, and friendly relations were restored.In the Bible the book of Ecclesiastes points out, ``God requireth that which is past.'' In consigning confrontational experiences to the past, however, we are not ignoring or hiding them. Instead we are depriving them of validity and power. Then we are able to go forward with today, which is a new day, crowned with radiance and filled with opportunities to resolve conflict.
And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle . . . . And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.
Genesis 13:7, 8