|True Stories: One Conflict “Worth the Fight”
With personal stories and advice firmly rooted in Scripture, this book offers hope for peace with God, peaceful relationships with others, and genuine peace within.
Rose: One of the most painful conflicts in my life began when my son quarreled with another boy in our church. His mother, Darla, was a dear friend of mine. Although the boys quickly reconciled, Darla dropped by one night to share a concern about what had happened. She hoped to discuss the matter openly, but I didn’t want to discuss it at all. In order to avoid the issue, I did some tricky maneuvering to direct our conversation to other topics. I ended the evening by affirming my love for their family. I sure felt better! Unfortunately, Darla did not. She was confused about what had transpired, so she resorted to writing me a letter.
Darla: The letter — what a mirror into my heart! Since I couldn’t get anywhere with Rose face-to-face, I felt that a letter was my next best option. I deceived myself into thinking my motives were good. I planned to tell Rose how she had hurt me and how she should have responded to my concern.
How blind I was to listen to my own heart rather than to seek God’s ways. Proverbs 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” Had I stopped to pray and seek guidance from one of our church elders, I would have spared both Rose and myself much anguish. Instead, my letter inflicted pain and wounded our friendship.
|What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it.James 4:1,2
God quickly convicted me of how sinful I’d been to hurt my sister in Christ. I found myself at Rose’s front door holding a rose in my hand as a peace offering and pleading for her forgiveness. This get-together was the first of many meetings leading toward reconciliation. Unfortunately, we had a bumpy road ahead of us with some backsliding along the way. But Christ would use this journey to teach us some precious truths.
Help from a Peacemaker
Rose: The gap between Darla and me grew and grew. One day she called to ask if I would talk to Justin, a highly respected peacemaker in our church. I told her I’d have to pray about it. In the meantime, Justin called me. He was so winsome that I agreed to meet with him and Darla.
When we met, he asked each of us what had led to this meeting. Then he pointed us to Scripture and very gently showed us our sin. I knew I did not want to be bound by this sin.
We ended the evening by going through the Seven A’s of Confession. Darla and Justin thought the conflict was resolved, and I too thought it was over. But there lingered in my heart the thought that even though Darla and I forgave each other, I wouldn’t be her friend anymore. And so we resumed a cold, distant friendship that really wasn’t a friendship at all.
Darla: If Rose and I had not shared a special relationship prior to this conflict, perhaps her distance would not have been so painful. I longed for the friendship we once had, and it was difficult for me to see our boys and husbands no longer enjoying fellowship together.
|The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this:They will not go unpunished.Proverbs 16:5
Rose: Several weeks later Justin called to see how things were going and arranged a meeting at a restaurant with my husband Larry and me. We had a great time together. Justin shared stories that opened my eyes to the wickedness lurking in my heart. We prayed and agreed to meet within the week with Darla and Jim.
By the time we met, I could hardly look at Darla, and my voice was tight when I spoke to her. Once again we “reconciled,” but as soon as I left the restaurant, fear took over. I avoided her and Jim like the plague so that I wouldn’t get into another conflict.
Disunited in Worship
Rose: There were many times during this conflict when I learned that our church would be celebrating communion the following Sunday. This news always saddened me because I knew I could not participate. Pastor Dan often reminded us that if we had an unresolved problem with a brother or sister in Christ, we were to go and be reconciled before receiving communion. Because Darla and I had not reconciled, I feigned illness at least one Sunday so that I would not have to forgo celebrating this special occasion.
Darla: The days and months slipped by. Rose and I were worshipping the same God in the same church, yet we were miles apart in our friendship. I became very judgmental, perplexed that things were not going my way. Finally, I called Rose to let her know how much I missed her and to ask her to go for a walk with me. She declined. Instead of accepting her response, I fell into the sin described in James 4:1-2, wanting something that I wasn’t getting. My desires had become demands.
Nonetheless, I desperately clung to Ephesians 4:2-3: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” At this point, I turned to Pastor Dan for help.
Pastor Dan Intervenes
Rose: A year went by as our families drifted further apart. At one point I asked Larry about exploring the option of going to another church. He graciously but firmly told me that we were not leaving Mountain View Church and that I needed to overcome my sin.
Meanwhile, Darla was struggling and shared her concerns with Pastor Dan. Pastor Dan called me and I agreed to meet with him about this conflict. He listened to my side of the story and then read several Scriptures relevant to my situation. I agreed with the verses but stubbornly told him he did not understand.
We prayed together, and he said he would send Darla and me homework. When it arrived, I cringed as I read his questions; I found it too painful to answer most of them because they revealed the sinful unforgiveness in my heart.
A few weeks later, Darla, Jim, Larry, and I met on a Saturday afternoon in Pastor Dan’s office. I remember him asking us why we were there. Darla enthusiastically responded that she knew the Lord was working through our conflict and that she missed me and looked forward to renewing our friendship.
I was so amazed at Darla’s answer — it was so different from mine. I said I was there only because I had to be.
We hammered things out for over two hours. I was standing firm in my sin. I knew I had to give in if I wanted to pursue my plans for the evening. So I finally relented. Again we apologized — complete with hugs — and Pastor Dan gave us another assignment; Darla and I had to meet soon to share our favorite Scripture verses.
We met at a coffee shop and had a wonderful time of fellowship. I found myself thinking, hey, maybe I could be her friend again; I really do love her. But as soon as this time of sharing ended and we went our separate ways, the walls of estrangement went right back up!
The Spirit Moves
|Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depth of the sea.Micah 7:18-19
Rose: A few weeks later my husband told me that Pastor Dan wanted to meet with me. I told him there was no way. We were soon to lose our foster son Bennie whom we had raised for seven years from the time he was a baby. I was an emotional wreck.
Pastor Dan called me after talking to Larry. I told him I couldn’t meet with him, and he graciously understood. He then asked if he could drop by and pray for Bennie, which he did that very evening.
About a month later, the Holy Spirit prompted me to call Pastor Dan in order to get this conflict completely resolved. He willingly agreed to get together with me and sounded excited that I initiated this meeting. When we met, he listened carefully and once again shared several applicable Bible verses. I was a bit exasperated with him because it was clear that he still didn’t understand my problem. It wasn’t until he read from Colossians 3:12-13 that I realized that I was the one who hadn’t understood my problem:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
I remember being so moved by that passage. How could I not completely forgive Darla after the Lord died for my sins and forgave all that I had done? Pastor Dan reminded me about who I am in Christ — a daughter of my heavenly Father, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. How precious it was to ponder! I marveled at the idea of being a daughter of the King.
Pastor Dan told me that I needed to go to Darla and Jim and confess all the ways that I had sinned against them and ask for their forgiveness. He also said it should be a one-way apology; I should not mention any ways I felt they had sinned against me. He told me it was going to be a total blessing to me, and though I knew it would be hard, I looked forward to it.
Rose: I remember driving home on that very hot July afternoon praising God for his patience with me, a vile sinner. I thanked him for blessing me with a pastor who, instead of giving up on me, walked through the fire with me, patiently directing me with God’s Word.
I wrote my apology with much thought and prayer so I wouldn’t leave out anything. I wanted to be free from my sin and Satan’s grip. My heart’s desire was to live as a daughter of the King.
I called Darla to ask if I could meet with her and Jim because I needed their forgiveness. Though she agreed to meet, I sensed she was pretty discouraged and frustrated with me. I got off the phone and cried like a baby.
|Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.Proverbs 3:5,6
Darla: How Satan must relish those moments when time and time again our sinful hearts and desires rule over us. Here we were one-and-a-half years later, no closer to true reconciliation, and Rose was the one seeking peace! All our meetings with Justin and Pastor Dan, along with my own efforts, had failed, and I was slipping into total frustration. Where was my trust lying? It certainly wasn’t in God’s perfect will or timing.
Thanks be to God for such a wise and patient pastor! After Rose called me, I immediately sought his advice to direct me down a path on which Satan could no longer intrude — that glorious reuniting of old friends!
Rose: Darla, Jim, and I scheduled our meeting for the next evening. A couple hours before we met, I asked my kids not to disturb me because I needed time alone to pray and read my Bible. The Lord was powerfully present; his deep love surrounded me. I could hardly believe that I was no longer running from this conflict. A great sense of peace overwhelmed me.
The clouds rolled in as they often do during the summer afternoons in the West. The sky darkened, the thunder boomed, and the rain began to pour — sheets and sheets of rain. The lightning demonstrated God’s power; the thunder displayed his might. And the rain showed me how he was washing my sins away.
Darla and Jim met me in the pouring rain and welcomed me like nothing had ever happened. We went inside and visited for a moment. Then I expressed my heartfelt confession and apologized. They graciously accepted it, gently explained how I had hurt them, and ended our discussion in prayer. Then we settled down for a long overdue visit.
The Sweetness of Reconciliation
Rose: The next morning I called Pastor Dan and told him about the time I had with the Lord before making my confession and how he had ministered to me through the thunderstorm. He told me that he too watched the storm and felt that the rain was a powerful reminder of the Lord pouring out his grace on us.
|How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! Psalm 133:1
It has been over two years since our friendship was reconciled, and I have treasured Darla’s friendship and am honored to call her my friend. Because we went through this refining fire together, we share something very special; her friendship is especially dear because our reconciliation was a gift from the Lord.
Darla: I treasure Rose’s friendship and consider it a great blessing from God. I was so humbled by her willingness to approach Jim and me to seek true reconciliation. How hard that must of been, especially after so much time had gone by.
This conflict has served as a powerful reminder to us about how sinful we are and how gracious and long-suffering our heavenly Father is. It also has given us a much deeper understanding of Christ’s death and resurrection, which resulted in God freely forgiving us for our sins and granting us entrance into his heavenly kingdom.