Sometimes I have to write difficult e-mails. Millie had me up at 5.30am today, when she’s gotta go, she’s gotta go; she makes this abundantly clear. Climbing back into bed I decided it was time to tackle that tricky e-mail that had been keeping me awake into the small hours. So, firing up my laptop and my brain I make a start.
I write it, and re-write it. Difficult things needed to be addressed, boundaries had been overstepped, damage had been done, people had been hurt, a bad situation had been made worse. How can I confront someone without losing them? Were they being passive aggressive? Should that be addressed?
I wrote what I thought was a reasoned response. All I needed now was to get it past the Watchful Dragon at the Gate, (my dear and precious wife, who does her best to temper me and my unruly ways).
Then this dropped into my inbox.
“Be sensitive to situations that require tolerance and kindness, so that you do not make matters worse. You have the ability to extend grace and mercy to others even in extreme conditions, but you must rein in your own frustrations. It is better to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Small Straws by Marsha Burns.)
Drat! now I have to step back, go through the whole thing again, line by line. I’m not that good at hearing directly from God, but this seemed pretty clear.
It’s a word for me, possibly also for you, my dear reader. Don’t shirk the difficult confrontation, but remember, Ephesians 4:31-32 is how we go about such matters.
Sad to report, but I lost my temper yesterday and shouted at someone very dear to me, whose behaviour was upsetting me. When we talked about it later I discovered that the person involved was reacting partly from being treated very badly by someone else a few minutes earlier. Maybe I should have Ephesians 4:31-32 tattooed onto my wrist. I forget so easily.
I close with a blessing
God’s Spirit empower us
God’s freedom release us
God’s wisdom direct us
God’s justice inform us
God’s mercy inspire us
God’s love be seen in us
God’s peace be with us
Lifting our anxieties Lightening our load
Restoring our vision
Changing this world through us.
(With thanks to John Birch)