I figured out why bagpipers are always walking when they play? They are trying to get away from the noise. Most of us prefer peace to pipes – especially in our relationships with one another.
But we are messy human beings and relational conflict is an unpleasant byproduct. And when conflict comes, we are tempted to find peace by walking away.
But Scripture points us in a different direction. In Hebrews 12:14 we read, “Pursue peace with everyone.” When we are at odds with someone, we need to engage them in ways that lead to peace – to the putting away of the hostilities.
This is how this looked in my life.
I was working as a maintenance man for an apartment complex. A tenant called our old landline. It was a single elderly lady with the last name Knight.
Her drain was clogged, and she demanded that it be fixed asap for she was cooking for a male friend that evening. My wife told her that I wasn’t at home but would be there as soon I arrived, which I did.
I knocked. She appeared with a scowl. I was too late! Her friend had come. She slammed the door.
The next day I went over and tried to fix it again. She opened the door as far as the chain would allow – and told me to leave.
She called the owner and demanded my termination – said she was afraid of me because of my long hair. This was after I had cut off 2 feet of it.
This was so wrong. My redheaded temper was at a boil.
However, I understood my obligation to “Pursue peace with everyone.” I was aware that the way I handled life caused others to move to or away from Jesus. Plus, this lady was still my responsibility as a tenant.
So, I tried to apologize. I knocked on her door – she opened it and slammed it. I called her on the phone, “Mrs. Knight this is Jim….click.” I endured 2 weeks of this hostility and it was eating me alive.
So I decided to write her a letter – something she couldn’t hang up on or slam in my face. I wrote, “I am very sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me. I came as soon as I was aware. I also understand that you are afraid of me because I have long hair. I am a Christian and my impact on others is important to me, so I am getting my hair cut today. I hope I have the opportunity to serve you in the future.”
My hair was cut, and the note sent. No doubt she received it and saw me walking around the complex with my new buzz job.
Two weeks later we got a second call from Mrs. Knight. She said, “I learned today that I have diabetes and unfortunately I have a freezer of food that I can’t eat anymore. Would you all like to have it?”
We went to her apartment and watched her cram several bags with food. We then followed her up the stairs, until she suddenly stopped, turned and spoke. “I will give you this – on one condition.” “Yes maam, what’s that?” She said, “That you forgive me for being such an old bag?” We did.
How wonderful it was that evening, to know that the conflict was over. The churning in my gut was gone. My enemy had become a friend – a good friend. She took my wife and I out for steak dinners on 2 different occasions.
This all took place when I was 23. It was a watershed experience for me. I have used this approach countless times since to rebuild broken bridges with people.
“Pursue peace with everyone.” When we are in conflict with someone, we need to engage them in ways that lead to peace.
Are you walking away from a key relationship because of conflict? Turn around and with God’s grace, pursue peace.
A PRAYER: Lord we are all different, help us understand what steps we need to take in the pursuit of peace.
This has been Jim Johnson with pickleheavenpress.com
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.