Updated: Sep 20, 2022
Most of us are aware that we through Jesus Christ, we are called to peace. He is the Prince of Peace, and we are to be peacemakers. While that is true, there is a difference between peacemaker and doormat. There is also the truth that peace doesn’t mean avoidance of conflict at any cost. The whole book of Romans reflects the Apostle Paul’s balance of peace, while still adhering to Truth. John Stott, in Reading Romans with John Stott, says, “Paul is seen from beginning to end as an authentic peacemaker, anxious to preserve both truth and peace without sacrificing either to the other”. Meaning, that peace can be achieved amongst seemingly contrasting elements.
True story: A co-worker approached my boss and said that I had been short with her, and she felt scolded. My boss, who has known me for years, replied, she is very blunt when she communicates sometimes, did you speak with her about the situation? The person replied, “I don’t want to start a conflict”. This co-worker one, assumed that approaching me about feeling scolded would indeed start a conflict, and two would be negative. Neither is true.
Not only am I human, when I am in a hurry, I tend to be short with people. Not because I don’t value them or want to hurt their feelings. I am just very task oriented and in wanting to complete tasks, forget to slow down and honor other people’s needs and feelings. I am constantly working on being mindful of other’s, yet, I often forget. Thus, if this co-worker had approached me, I would have apologized for my rude behavior and asked for forgiveness.
This person didn’t approach me, by the way. Instead, they chose to let it go. I am a huge fan of this approach, IF and only IF, you are truly letting it go and not letting it build to resentment. We must guard against the outward appearance of forgiveness, while holding onto hurt feelings. The outward appearance of peace is not peace. Peace is when we authentically approach relationships in a loving manner, meaning to accept the other person and their feelings at least as valuable as yours. I’m all for turning the other cheek, being slow to be offended, and giving people the benefit of the doubt. Yet, if it is not possible for you to truly let it go without a conversation, have the conversation. In most situations, if handled respectfully and professionally, most relationships will come out stronger and each party will feel like feelings were validated. In my own 30-year career, most of the time, the negative intent was all in my head, not the other parties. Bonus- Proverbs 19:11
In the rare circumstances, that the person does lash out at you, or it becomes a “thing”; pray that God would heal that relationship and give you perspective and wisdom concerning that relationship. Some people will always be difficult, and some will never forgive. That isn’t your responsibility. Your job is work through these circumstances, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and scripture.