How Do You Handle Hard Conversations? {A Guest Post}

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Today we are continuing our 31 Day series by welcoming my beautiful friend, Kristi Woods, to the blog. I felt an immediate connection to Kristi’s writing when I discovered we shared the same struggles with the gypsy life. We’ve both moved all over the country, and encourage each other in our strides to build community and fight loneliness. She is a true gem and even though we’ve never met in “real” life, I hope one day that will change. Please welcome her today as she shares about a vulnerable experience with conflict.

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Kristi Woods is a writer and speaker passionate about seeing women walk deeper with God. She clicks her words of encouragement at http://www.KristiWoods.net regularly and is published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions as well as on various blogs. Kristi, her retired-from-the-military husband, and their three children survived a nomadic lifestyle and have now set roots in Oklahoma. Connect with Kristi here: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

How Do You Handle Hard Conversations?

She exploded. The harsh words hammered at me.

The upset mama’s child was hurt. Mine, she insisted, was the cause.

Fiery darts were flying. My mama bear itched to roar.

I faced a choice. How was I going to react to the uncomfortable discourse?

Turn her off, run away?

Suffer in silence or rupture in anger?

Bellow with blame or let resentment reign?

I tried many of them in past situations. However, efforts of “my will” seemed only to result in a worse scenario.

Fruit isn’t borne in the land of our personal will. Maturity doesn’t mount on those plains. No, spiritual fruit flourishes when we utter and trust, “Thy will”, when we make a choice to react with righteousness, not emotions.

It’s not easy, offering “our will” at the cross, opening ourselves to change. But it’s necessary to grow in the Lord.

I survived the difficult conversation that day with God’s peace which certainly passed understanding. There were a few, self-induced bumps in the road later, a few tears too, but I’ll celebrate all day long God’s faithfulness in the midst of the conversation.

Here are three truths to remember for righteous responses:

1. Trust Trumps

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Prov. 3:5-6 NKJV

Our words are an offering opportunity. Syllables uttered with trust, set at the foot of the cross, are sweet smelling. They’re a beautiful aroma to our God. Trust in God trumps darkness any day.

Keep calm, Kristi. Keep calm. Just listen.

The internal dialogue kept me on the narrow way during the hard conversation. My own selfish will wanted to roar, to react. Truth consoled and took my hand.

Controlling others isn’t an option, but controlling “us” is. It’s all in Who we trust.

Abby McDonald guest post

2. Created in God’s Image

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12 NLT

Enemy! The tag is easy to give when fiery words fly. On the other side of those words, however, lives a person created by the same God as us. Created in His image, there’s an eternal plan for them, too.

The one hurling hurtful words is not our enemy. Darkness is.

 

3. Give Space for Grace

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23 NLT

One thing is certain: We all sin.

There have been times when I was that emotional mama. Self-control flew out the window, trust too. A bigger issue often roars behind the scene, a lie birthing the sinful reaction. It’s much easier to give space for grace when we remember the battle.

In God’s faithfulness, He brings victory every time we trust Him with our hard conversations. He’s so good!

The encounter may still be messy. (Mine was.) Problems might not be resolved immediately. (The earlier mentioned one still isn’t.) But His peace will prevail. (It did… within me.) It might be a subtle, internal change, undetectable to many, but it’s a huge heart victory. It’s available to all of us when we simply trust, responding with God when handling hard conversations.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

When We Lose Our Faith In Humanity

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The words caught me off guard.

As I sat pondering them, I wondered if he was right. Deep in my core, I didn’t want him to be. I didn’t want to go through life questioning the intentions of every person I met. I didn’t want to always wonder if those close to me had ulterior motives.

But the sad thing was, I believed him.

“You shouldn’t trust anyone. Just trust in the Lord.”

I’d told him my trust was broken. In this season, I didn’t feel safe with anyone. I’d been violated in ways that were difficult for me to talk about and pain I’d buried for far too long was bubbling to the surface.

I didn’t expect him to confirm my doubts. I didn’t expect to be told to go through life an orphan, never believing in anyone or having faith in a love which goes beyond our own selfish motives. But that’s exactly what he did.

For years I went through life continually looking beneath the surface, searching for the selfish reason behind the generous gesture or the lie behind the cunning smile.

There is no place lonelier than the heart which trusts no one. And the sad truth about a lack of trust is that we will remain stuck in our walk with Christ unless we learn to see others the way he does.

We can focus on the work of Christ in others rather than the work we think they need.

We can focus on the log in our eye rather than the speck in theirs.

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I’m not saying to be a doormat. And I’m not saying we don’t need boundaries. But God never intended us to walk through life alone, trusting no one but ourselves and him. He created us for community and unity amongst each other.

He made us for more than a life of isolation with walls so high we can’t remember where the foundation lies. Love goes beyond those walls and reaches out to the lost, the weary and the weak.

We love because that’s what we were created to do.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:7

Love perseveres, friends. Even when we have the breath knocked out of us, we continue to hope. Because the source of our hope goes beyond this lifetime into the eternal.

We trust our brothers and sisters because of the work being done in them. Our flesh may fail, but the Spirit of truth has sealed us for the day of redemption.

And our redemption was bought with too high a price for us to roam this earth as orphans.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

Why We Don’t Need to Fix People

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The realization came as a blow to both my pride and my false sense of control. He did not want me to fix it. He wanted me to let it go.

For months I’d offered opinions as much as I’d offered up prayers.

For months I’d judged behavior more than I’d offered love and support.

Sleepless nights left me seeking apologies from those closest to me. I knew they were not the source of the problem, but often our wailing falls on whatever ears will listen.

In the midst of my utter lack of control, I tried to keep a spotless home. One day in early fall a friend stopped by for an impromptu visit and remarked on how immaculate my home was. It the middle of the day, but everything was tidy and in its place.

She had no idea how chaotic my life felt. She didn’t know how in my current season, this house was the only place I felt peace.

There are few valleys more brutal than watching a loved one self-destruct. And while you desire nothing more than to offer a permanent solution, the only Fixer is not of this world.

True soul mending comes from above and within, not pat answers and easy formulas.

The best answer we can offer? Unconditional love. Though we draw a boundary to protect ourselves and our families, we let our brothers and sisters know we will love them no matter what.

We will be here when they come home. We will be here when they decide to call on the Name of the only one who can heal even the deepest hurt.

Jesus came to heal the sick so we could share his gift with others, not judge others.

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

Matthew 9:12 NIV

I think of how far he’s brought me far from the pit I was in, I know it is only by his divine grace that I am here. It is by his mercy that I am not still wallowing in my depression, my anger and resentment.

The only trait which distinguishes me is that I called on the name of Jesus when I was at my worst. And he transformed me into someone who could bring Light and life to those who don’t know whose name to call.

I want to be a Light-bearer, not a control-freak. Lord knows the world is much safer in his hands than mine. So today, I’m giving it to him.

I’m giving him the weight of the world. I can’t handle it on these frail shoulders anymore.

I’m trading my clenched fists for hands extended in praise. Because I know in his sovereign power and grace he can transform any heart and exalt it, in his time.

And time is something I don’t want to waste.

 

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*Linking up with #LiveFreeThursday and #GraceAndTruth. Come join us and be inspired.

When You Wonder Where You Belong

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There is a vast difference between hearing words and actually believing them.

For most of my life, I did the former. To say I took things with a grain of salt was an understatement. I used the entire shaker.

My grandmother never missed an opportunity to tell me I was beautiful. I would give her an obligatory smile and think as her grandchild, she was required to say that.

I didn’t see what she saw. I measured my worth by my ability to perform and to please others. But beauty? It was too subjective. Too personal.

So when I heard pastors preach on grace and tell me God wanted a personal relationship with me, the concept felt foreign. The Creator of the Universe wanted to know me? What did I have to offer Him?

My unbelief led me down a road of poor decisions and an endless search for love in places that could never fill me. To say I was a mess would be an understatement.

I only shared the version of me I thought would be accepted and wondered why my life felt empty and aimless.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m honored to be sharing part of my story in my dear friend Tiffany Parry’s series, “Real Conversations with Women of God.” You can read the rest of my post here.

 

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Stop Hiding Your Light

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My face beamed as I read my friends words and the corners of my mouth curved into an awkward smile. She was happy. For me.

She was “doing double back flips.” For me. At first my heart didn’t know how to respond. Then warmth enveloped me like a soft touch and I was sure I’d found a true friend.

I’d become so good at undermining my successes that to share them with someone felt dangerous. What if she was offended or discouraged by this turn of events? She hadn’t heard anything from her publisher yet, so I reasoned perhaps I should keep quiet.

With the gentle nudge of the Spirit, I moved past my caution and spilled the news anyway. And her excited response welcomed me in and washed away my fears and apprehension.

I realized for the first time in months how this joy over my progress was meant to be shared. And when I shared it, it grew.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m honored to be sharing over at Joying in the Journey. You can read the rest of my post here.

GIVEAWAY:

Congratulations, Kristi Woods! You are the winner of last week’s giveaway and will receive a copy of 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents. Thank you for reading.

When You Long For a Change

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For months I wondered what would happen if one of the city’s homeless graced the doorstep of our church. Would the lady I’d often seen walking the streets be welcomed in with warm smiles?

Her tattered comforter was always wrapped tightly around her like a cape. It seemed to be her only source of security as she made her way from one location to another.

What would occur if she came to this place which could bring her hope not just for this life, but for eternity? Would she be given looks of disapproval?

My husband and I had spoken with her before, asking how we could help, but were turned away. She continued wandering around the canal, setting up a small camp of belongings here and there. I couldn’t get the picture of her out of my mind, the way she always seemed to be talking to no one in particular.

Then one day she was there.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing the rest of my story at Kelly Balarie & Friends. You can read the rest of my story here.

 

Linking up with Barbie Swihart’s Weekend Brew. Come join us and be inspired.