My friend Mary was going through a difficult time in her life. She was having trouble getting along with a family member. I think we all can relate to that. Mary tells me, “She just doesn’t like me and it doesn’t matter what I do, I can’t get along with her, and I can’t understand why, I mean who wouldn’t like me?” And she starts to giggle, which is great, because you have to be able to laugh at yourself. Anyone who has ever met Mary would say, she is extremely likeable, compassionate and fun to be around. This constant strife caused her such unrest, that while on a spiritual retreat; she decided to share her conflict with the presiding priest. He gave her advice that struck a chord within. He said, “God’s will for us, is to be the example of Christ to the world. You may be the only example of Christ she sees. By living this example you are acting in his will.”
After giving this much thought, Mary confided in me that, when this person rejected her advances for a relationship, it deeply hurt her and this hurt affected her pride. Pride pulled her away from trying to pursue the relationship, protecting herself from further hurt. After gaining perspective from what the priest shared with her, she wondered what she was really protecting herself from. Being hurt is the least of what matters to her now, what matters is being in a right and loving relationship with her family and being an example of Christ. As she puts it, “People didn’t like him either.”
Armed with new insight, she decided to try a different tactic. She called her on the phone to try to work things through, but this failed, when she refused to get on the phone and instead passed it to other family members. She then thought of the scripture in Romans 12: 20, 21 if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. This inspired her, to give her a gift that she knew she would love; she wrapped it beautifully, and then drove it to her house. When she arrived, this person refused to come to the door and had her kids take the gift, Mary left feeling okay. Later that evening she received a text from her with loving words of “thank you.” Mary felt immediate peace in her heart and knew she acted right in God’s will. The love she expressed, through the example of Christ, melted this woman’s heart like burning coals.
This story, I think, for most of us, is all too familiar; I know in my life, I have at least one, if not more than one family member that “DRIVES ME CRAZY!!!” and I often wonder, wow, what am I going to do with this? I like Mary’s story, because, it reveals the other side of peace. I once had a tea bag with a quote that said, “If you want peace go and talk to your enemy,” and another that said, “Peace is conflict.” Perhaps, this is what Jesus meant when he said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” Matthew 10:34–36
Recently, I learned to deal with my conflicts differently. I try, really hard, not to take anything personal. If it is meant to be personal, I will reflect on it to see if it has truth. If it does, I will apologize and change it. If it doesn’t, I let it roll off my back like water on a duck. This isn’t easy and it takes a lot of practice, but it does help. Have you ever heard the saying, “changing your thoughts, changes your situations?” It really does, but we also have to remember to pray. Here is a prayer that may help by Father Louis-Marie Parent, O.M.I. Founder of the Institute Voluntas Dei
Lord Jesus, give me the grace to think of you every hour, just for today, so that I may live in your presence. Lord Jesus, empty my heart of all sadness, hate and spite, just for today, so that I may love without criticizing and serve without complaining. Lord Jesus, help me to follow your footsteps, just for today, so that following your example and Mary’s, I may be, every day of my life, an element of peace. AMEN !