Friday, May 24, 2019

Conflict and Confrontation

I recently was talking with a brother (chaplain) in Christ about the naming of a medical facility. I was apparently pretty vehement about what it would be named. Anyway, he said to me, “Why is it always conflict with you?” This statement was convicting. But later in the day it became much worse when he again mentioned the conflict concept and told me that, “you are always confrontational.”  I was convicted to the core. In fact I was broken and spiritually shaken inside and out. I did not react, like I would have for most of my previous life.  As this man, a chaplain, was someone I deeply respected, I told him that I was considering that I was unfit to continue as a chaplain and should contemplate resignation. As we talked I was fighting back tears. I told him that with his proclamation all my foundations had been cracked asunder.

My “friend” stared at me with piercing and unrelenting eyes that frightened me palpably. I was ready to take my leave. I could not argue, there was no sense in it. In fact, we were standing in the most public part of the hospital where families anxiously awaited news of their loved ones coming from surgery. I felt as if I had just received the surgeon’s life changing word that my loved one had perished. The confrontation between us had been worsened by the fact that a third chaplain had been present in our tiny office for part of this battle that would leave no prisoners.

I told my friend that I had grown up in an alcoholic family; with a bipolar mother whose early Alzheimer’s made her for me an uncertain time bomb causing me great anxiety. I had barely survived my childhood, resulting in my own anorexia and turning early to alcohol to cope. Suicidal thoughts were not foreign to me.

It seems that my “friend” was beginning to recognize that he had assaulted me. I don’t know if he recognized any doubt in his hard, and perhaps over reaction. I had obviously pushed buttons in him.  Tears began to show in his eyes. He explained that he had a weakness of intimidating and verbally assaulting people. In fact, he told me that he had once been asked to apologize to a college Dean after tearing them a new wound in public. I listened, trembling slightly as he explained and related his own story. He apologized for his behavior and asked for prayer, beginning by praying for Satan to be gone from our conversation and relationship. We prayed for reconciliation.  Jesus teaches, Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). God takes this pretty seriously, don’t leave hurts unhealed, it is a grave sin. Paul also said, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

I will say as we both prayed that a new atmosphere began to take away the fear and anxiety that I was feeling. I was still shaken and continued to relive the trauma during the day and night, including nightmares that caused a very restless night. I awoke in the morning heading for my secret prayer chair in the basement where I poured out my pain and need for healing and forgiveness. God is bathing me in His love as I write. Proverbs 27:6 says, “The wounds of a friend are faithful.”  This is a spiritual truth that seems paradoxical like many in Scripture. Additionally, the two of us quoted Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.”  This is the Scripture verse of the once great men’s ministry of “Promise Keepers,” designed to bring men closer to God in conviction and faith.  I know the truth of this strong admonition.  God is good and even if He allows wounding, He is also the great Healer.  Our valleys are meant for lessons that will hurt, but He will anoint and bind up what He has torn. Praise be to God.

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