Earlier this week, our pastor posted a request on Facebook explaining that his next sermon series would be on dealing with conflict and asked if anyone would like to share thier experiences. I knew that I had done some writing on conflict pain in the past and checked my documents to see if I could find it. The piece I had wrote just happened to be exactly one year previous to when he is starting this new series. Here is what I had wrote:
April 21, 2008
We watched a video at church yesterday and one sentence stood out to me that was over the head of a woman - “avoids relationships for fear of pain”. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfeXxkbgCVE) I am that woman. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I have broken most all of my relationships with friends and family. Those still intact only consist of surface conversations and smiles. My intimacy with my husband is gone because I fear intimacy with anyone. It only gives them more of an opportunity to hurt me. Of course people have hurt me over the years – everyone gets hurt but the last five years seem like the hurt was constant between friends, church, family and husband. Getting angry and walking away is my learned defense mechanism. It is all I know now. I don’t know how to overcome this. I don’t know how to trust again. I don’t know how to let anyone in. I feel like my heart has shriveled up and has nothing to sustain it. I avoid sharing my feelings because it only leads to being hurt once again. I can’t endure any more pain. I used to be a loving, compassionate, gentle person who enjoyed people but I now see people as something to avoid. My husband asks where this person has gone, but I don’t know what to tell him. I want superficial relationships so I can be in control. It is not fair to those around me but I don’t know how to change.
I thanked God because of the differences He has made in my heart since I wrote the above. Here is what He has been up to:
A few months ago, God began prompting me to restore broken relationships. My pride was instantly flared by even the thought of asking for forgiveness from people who had hurt me so badly. God has prepared my heart each day for this time as I have watched Him soften my heart. He continued to make His will apparent through sermons, devotions, His Word, and words from others. Mike and I had already forgiven each other and were connected once again, and I had inched my way back into some friendships but my previous church family was who God pulled me to. He showed me many ways that I had sinned against my church family and how I needed to ask for their forgiveness so that my relationship with Him could continue to grow. It was humbling to consider that my heart was not the only one that had been hurt. It took every ounce of courage I had and the strength of God to contact the church and ask to meet with the board. When the meeting was over, the Pastor suggested that I pray about individuals that God wanted me to contact. I prayed and instantly had a list on my heart. It would have been very easy to leave it at that but it wasn't in God's plan. I have now spoke face-to-face with the people God laid on my heart. I have asked for forgiveness from each one. The bitterness is gone. We recently attended our old church for some family baptisms and I really enjoyed the visit. I didn't feel tense, stressed and bitter like times before but at peace with the people and with God. His amazing love does amazing things in my heart.
Conflict can cause much pain but forgiveness brings much peace.
Please be praying as I will be sharing this during our church services tomorrow.
Isaiah 51:1 "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug."
Have a great day and a great weekend!
Living fearlessly in Christ