I have a hard time letting people in. It’s hard for me to really trust people. Some would call it shyness and others might say that I have an unhealthy fear of rejection, but it doesn’t really matter what you label it as because the only thing that does matter is how it affects my relationships.
For the past year, I have had to really confront this issue and watch some of my other family members do the same. It has not been pretty or convenient, but it has served as a learning process. I have had to question my own thoughts and ideas about others and I have had to pray for guidance like never before.
Conflict has a way of doing that.
Recently as I prayed about these issues, I came across this verse in Romans 12:21:
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The verse opened my eyes to the many ways my past hurts and difficult experiences have kept me from overcoming the evil in my relationships. I sat there thinking of all the times that I have made a decision to pick up a reproach (Psalm 15:3) against someone based on false information and negative perceptions. There have been countless of ways in which I’ve assumed that someone has deliberately set out to hurt me or someone I love. I often failed to give others the benefit of the doubt and instead chose to walk away; adding each new hurt to a long list of reasons why it’s better not to trust.
Then the questions came flooding in. When is it safe to trust someone? How do I stop evil from destroying my relationships? How do I overcome evil with good when things are looking pretty messed up and I’m not the one who created the mess?
I confessed all these truths about myself to God and then I asked again for wisdom and waited for the answers.
Wisdom came through reading Jeremiah 17:5-6 which says:
This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
Where no one lives-that is exactly what will happen if I keep going down the same path in my relationships. I’ve been cursed in many ways when it comes to my relationships and letting people see the real me. And I will continue to be cursed in this way despite my own efforts because I’ve been drawing my strength from the wrong source-my own flesh.
Whenever there is conflict in a relationship, we have a choice to either draw our strength from God or from ourselves. Guess which one will produce an opportunity to overcome evil with good?
The sad part is that conflicts will never cease to arise. As long as I am breathing, I will have to deal with conflicts in my relationships. There is just no running away from it.
I examine this family conflict and others from God’s perspective and I realize that relying on my own flesh has brought me nothing but heartache and confusion.
If only I could go back and press the pause button, set my feelings aside and pray. If only I could go back now and take each of these situations to God and lay them at His feet. If only I could go back and ask Him for guidance, patience and understanding knowing that He is sovereign. He knows the truth and the motives behind each of our actions. He understands the pain that causes someone to lash out in anger. He knows what evil spirits are at work trying to destroy us. Most importantly, He knows how it will all turn out.
I get up from my chair and vow that this year will be different. I will try to hit the pause button. I will entrust myself to God and not worry about who I can and cannot trust. I will let Him break down these walls that I’ve been building in my heart and endeavor to let Him show me how to live without them. I will overcome evil with good. May He grace me for the journey ahead.
This post is a part of a blog series that I’m sharing this month on Living with Purpose in 2017. I hope to share what I’m learning through God’s word as it relates to these important areas of my life each week. I pray that it serves as encouragement on your journey this year.