Yes my friends, while Aretha may have “soul” all tied up, I am a queen of a different type. Coming from a person who HATES conflict and confrontation, I struggle with conflict often. From big to little issues they are the green flies of my life.
First conflict. I saw an old high school friend in Walmart several Christmases ago and she was dressed in a gray turtleneck that was tucked into a knee length pencil black skirt which hit the top of black leather boots with about a 2 inch heel. Her hair was cut short, boyishly, and swooped dramatically across her forehead and tucked behind her ear. Weighing probably 100 pounds soaking wet, she hadn’t changed a bit since high school. She looked amazing. I felt like a 4 year old standing next to her in my stringy hair, khaki pants, knit top and Birkenstock clogs. I was defeated the rest of the night. In schools I have worked in I worked with teachers who looked amazing. They dressed in coordinating everything. Down to their matching undergarments. They walked around in their stiletto boots, manicured nails, tan skin, and perfectly groomed hair. At 3:30, they still look amazing, make-up fully in place. I on the other hand, was working in Special Ed, would have no make up on, have God knows what kind of bodily fluid stains on my pants, lunch spilt on my shirt and as always, my stringy hair. My brother called me “granola” when I was in high school. My husband said the first thing he thought when he met me was, “Ah, she’s a cute little hippie”. And truth is, I am a hippie trapped in a body that’s led by the mind of someone who wants to be something that she’s not. I WANTED to be the girl with a standing nail and hair appointment, who had all the latest clothes and shoes and accessories that would make Macy’s go out of business. I wanted to have the trendy haircut. But, who was I fooling? I am so cheap and low maintenance. I can’t keep it up. I can’t AFFORD to keep it up! Just give me my Birks and New Balance. You can keep your cramped toes! And thankfully, through His grace, I’m learning to be really okay with it.
Next conflict…In 2008, Jason took me to New York City for our 10-year anniversary in December. It was a complete surprise. When we got there I was in awe of the energy in the city. The buzz of the subway, the hustle of those beautiful women running in snow and sleet in those freakishly high heeled boots. How do they do that?! I was thinking, I could do this. I could live here. Give me a loft in the middle of Manhattan. We could walk everywhere. We could both get high-powered, high stress, but high paying jobs and have weekend play dates with Sarah Jessica. You know. Isn’t that what people who live in the city do? Flash to my next conflict. While I was trudging through the miserable cold rain, sleet, snowy, wintery mix and trying desperately not to fall down, I thought, hmmm…where I’d really like to be in on about 50 acres in the middle of the country. South Carolina sounds nice. An old farmhouse that has everything original, well except important stuff like wiring and what not. You know dumbwaiters, laundry chutes, outside cellars, and porcelain claw foot bathtubs. I want a porch that goes all the way around the house that has a porch swing and steps leading up to it that people can sit on while visiting after supper. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies. Maybe I was born in the wrong time. I’ve always felt like an “old soul”. I have always wanted that picture.
Lastly, my personality. I have always been obnoxiously loud. I have a loud laugh and I LOVE to laugh. So therefore, with me and my children and their genetic predisposition to loudness, it is always with me. I love even more to make people laugh. In high school I was told I would most likely star on Saturday Night Live (or be a missionary) neither of which has happened. My humor is crude and I will do almost anything to get a laugh. On the other hand, more often than not, I’m a homebody. I like to be by myself, alone, reflecting on my thoughts. Which often leads to a feeling of loneliness because I’m not surrounded by anybody.
Oh my, what a vicious cycle…
So, what are the internal conflicts that battle in your mind or your life? Maybe you could take some time right now and list them. Then, put them in order of most irritating or crippling to the least. Then, after you have identified them, dedicate them to the Lord. Because 1 John 4:18 says that His perfect love casts out all fear. Go to Him with a humble heart and confess your weaknesses to Him. Celebrate your weaknesses because your heart is now fertile ground for the Lord to do mighty things and produce a harvest in you that can effect generations to come. Realize that being discontent and conflicted is from the enemy. He is the author of confusion and wants nothing more than for you to be in turmoil.
Frankly, he hates you.
And he’d love for you to hate you too.
Thankfully, despite all of my conflicts, I am able to find peace. I have peace in the fact that the God of the universe, who uses the Earth as his footstool (can you imagine that?! I picture Him sitting, all kicked back with His hands folded behind His head and His feet propped up on the Earth!) cares about me. He created me this way in order for me to help others who may have similar struggles. Maybe He made me loud to bring joy to the brokenhearted, and allowed me to feel loneliness to bring warmth to the lonely. Maybe He made me uncomfortable with my outside so I will see others as He does in 1 Samuel 16:7, “For man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” As I have gotten older I have learned to celebrate what I find as conflicts. He has molded me this way with intention so I can draw from His perfect love. To lean on Him and not myself. He has my tiny, little, four letter name written on the palm of His hand.
And He has your name written there too.
Together let’s journey to enjoy God’s goodness and the gift of freedom that He has given to you and me.
The gift to BE you and me.
I think we’ll be better for the ride.