We all thought 2020 would be the craziest year ever…
…until 2021 showed up to compete.
2020 gave us the very unwanted New Year gift of COVID-19. We saw loved ones get sick…some even die. We also saw financial devastation everywhere…conflict over masks…intense racial tensions…political chaos…fear, worry, depression, anxiety…addictions…lots of heartbreaking problems.
The 2020 election seems to be this New Year’s gift, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Nobody in their right mind would’ve signed up for these gifts either:
- Protests that are contentious
- Total lack of peace
The last 10 months, Americans – our country, majority of our leaders, our family and friends, even ourselves – have shown a side that none of us would’ve ever believed.
The Bible warned about these days…but I don’t think any of us were truly prepared.
I truly believed the behavior the Bible warned about would be several years away. I never thought I’d see the amount of hate, bitterness, or flagrant disregard of God’s Word – even by some pastors and churches – as what is prevalent in the world today. And it doesn’t seem to be getting better anytime soon…and worse, people are so busy arguing that it’s not fully breaking anyone’s heart either. People are becoming too angry to care.
Let’s ponder what God’s Word says:
Matthew 24:12, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.”
2 Timothy 3:1-5, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power…”
1 Timothy 4:1-2, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”
Matthew 24:10-14, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved…”
It’s very plain to see that the current events are spot on with what was written years ago. And it truly is heartbreaking.
So what can we do in such a volatile time in society and history?
- Be sweet. As a mom, I’d instruct my son all the time, “be sweet!” If I noticed he handled something correctly on his own, I’d say, “Thank you for being the sweet boy I knew you to be!” Being sweet is such simple advice…but can be difficult to do – especially when others are pushing your buttons. Being sweet sure does solve a lot of issues though. You literally can’t go wrong by being sweet. You can still express your opinion…I don’t believe in anyone being a doormat…but just being cordial, polite, and sweet, you’ll be ahead of the game. And you won’t have to later apologize for not being sweet either.
- Seek to understand. This one is huge! So many times in a conversation, we are showing up with our own viewpoints and opinions. We don’t collectively look at our life experiences which developed our viewpoints, thoughts, opinions, feelings and beliefs. The Bible instructs us to gain understanding. Do a study on the word understanding…you’ll be surprised how thorough the Bible is on the topic. When going through conflict, or any difference of opinion, it truly is needed to seek to understand. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t. Whether it’s a political, spiritual, or current event conversation, as well as in a marriage, family, or any relationship, if you fail to try to understand…you’re destined to fail. Look at any situation or conversation through each person’s – each other’s – eyes, feelings, and life experiences…then make progress together.
- Stop and pause. Take a 15-20 second breather. When we stop to consider the impact of our words and actions, and even our own pain, it can genuinely help to prevent a wildfire. The Bible says our tongue has the power of life and death. James 3:5-6 says, “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” Proverbs 21:23 says, “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” And 1 Peter 3:10 says, “For Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.” If you want to do a great study on the power of words and the tongue, the Bible is filled with wisdom and instruction. Stopping and pausing to consider one’s words is wise. It gives us an opportunity to ask God for His help, wisdom, and grace in the hard conversations we will all face, as well.
- Realize everyone has a lot going on right now – and everybody has gone through major ongoing stress the last several months. People are heightened in emotion, grief, stress, conflict, and poor life experiences right now. I’ve yet to talk to one person who hasn’t been through extreme stress the past few months. When people are stressed out, or in grief, they may act or behave very uncharacteristically. They may say or do things that truly are not “them.” People can only go through so much without breaking…and so many today are past their breaking point. We’re all in uncharted territory. Life has really socked it to everyone…and everyone is doing their best to figure it all out. It is so very important to keep this in mind.
- To rightfully respond to others, God’s help and grace is needed. When going through a tough conversation, it probably isn’t our natural inclination to respond as God wants us to respond. If someone is short with us or rude…it’s human nature to want to defend ourselves, say the witty lil thing that just popped into your head, or to be hurtful back. Hurting people hurt people and those who are being hurt or disrespected usually hurt back as well…and the cycle goes on and on and on. God’s Grace, help, and ways are majorly needed, so let’s be so very mindful to pray and seek His heart before replying to anyone.
- Unplug from social media. In fact, as much as in your control, take a day or two to only be around or talk to those who you trust — those who love your heart best. There’s nothing wrong with regrouping, taking care of your soul, and achieving a better, healthier mindset. It’s good to unplug every once in awhile.
- Refuse to argue. Recently, I had someone coming at me…hard. I did my best to empathize, was sweet, sought to understand, and even said several times, “I’m not going to argue with you.” This just made the person even more irate. When you see someone is frustrated and hurting…and no matter what you say or do, you know they just want to make you their verbal punching bag for all that’s going on in the world (or theirs)…stop the conversation and refuse to argue. Seriously, nip it in the bud. Even if they bait you, simply say, “You and this conversation are important to me, but how about we talk about this later when we are both calm.” Then leave the conversation. No explanation needed. Trust me, nothing good is going to come out of a contentious conversation – and taking a break is perfectly appropriate.
- PRAY. Prayer is so very needed – especially these days. Extremely needed. We need to pray for others, even those we disagree with…and we need to pray for our family and our own self as well. We’re living in a very tough time. We need all the wisdom, discernment, and understanding we can get…and the world, those we disagree with, our families, and ourselves – we all need to be lifted up in prayer and seek encouragement daily. Nothing will truly heal unless we each do our part. Prayer – and seeking God’s heart – is truly the best starting place.
- Choose to be a peacemaker. I think this one is the hardest, and takes the most self control. To be a peacemaker isn’t being a doormat or someone’s verbal punching bag…it’s having the maturity to see a much bigger picture. Recently, two times come to mind when I had the opportunity to be mature and choose to be a peacemaker: the first time, I bombed. After being verbally attacked, and they punched every button and nerve in me, I failed at being a peacemaker. The second time, after a time in prayer and asking God for help, I was able to do the above steps and avoid a bad situation from getting worse. We each have it in us to be a peacemaker…to prevent things from escalating and to make God proud of how we handle the situations and conversations we all face…we need to make an ongoing choice to build being a peacemaker to be a part of our heart and daily character.
So what if you’ve already messed up?
We’re all going to mess up. Just because you’re a Christian, it doesn’t mean you’re perfect. The only One who is perfect is Jesus…seriously, the only thing we contribute to our Christianity is our own sin. Does that mean we get a free “get out of jail” pass when we mess up? No. It means when we do mess up, we need to have the character to make whatever wrong we’ve done, right. If we know we’ve hurt, harmed, or wounded someone…yes, God forgives us – absolutely…but we also need to apologize and ask for forgiveness from those we’ve offended, too. Then we need to make the decision today to not repeat past mistakes. We can choose to do better each and every day.
The ideas above are simple strategies to get through the political chaos. I hope they help you in all of your relationships, as well.
Here is one last verse to leave you with (and below that are some past blog posts I’ve written on conflict resolution and character). We’re all in this together…let’s each do our part. ❤️
1 Thessalonians 5:13-24, “…Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”
Have a great week!
©2021 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.
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5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5
6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv
7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus
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