This was written last school year as a reflection on a difficult playground situation. I have chosen to share it as encouragement, because sometimes, despite our best efforts, relationships can be tricky and confrontations made awkward. Even amongst Christians, there can be numerous challenges to working out differences with others. We must surrender our thoughts, words, actions, and whole beings to God, asking Him to guide us into how to live peaceably within our community. Then, no matter what the outcome, we can entrust it all into God’s secure and loving hands.
Raw. Angry. Shocked. Anxious. Dismissed.
Flashes of emotion swelled within my heart after an awkward confrontation with another school mother. Her daughter had been repeatedly gossiping and telling lies to my daughter’s best friend, seemingly trying to break up their friendship. Three girls in a friendship can often present a challenge of jealousy, hurt feelings, and exclusion.
Having been friendly with this girl’s mother, I took a chance of informing her about my daughter’s hurt feelings due to her daughter’s behavior, over the past three months on the school playground.
Five years earlier, I had confronted this same mother about actions at a park play date for our girls. I can’t even remember the specifics now, but behavior had needed to be called out. I remember her explosive defense to my approach, assuming her daughter couldn’t possibly do any wrong. It went so badly that I vowed to never confront this woman again! She wouldn’t accept that her daughter was capable of making a mistake. That ALL children can make mistakes, and we should be able to guide and help them learn from their behavior.
Fast forwarding to the present, I kept praying and hoping that the girls (my daughter and her best friend) could manage this on their own, standing up to the gossiping of this girl. I had even had conversations with the mother of my daughter’s best friend, who expressed the same hurt from this other girl. Unruly behavior was affecting two girls and I knew it was time to address the issue.
I took a chance to stand up for my daughter and not trying to point my finger, carefully used my words to inform this mother about her daughter’s actions, which had been emotionally hurting my daughter and her best friend.
Instantly, just like five years ago, this mother went into attack mode! Though I had been praying through this for months, had felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting, and strategically and softly addressed the challenging behavior instead of putting down her daughter’s character, I was labelled as the attacker in her eyes. I was perceived as accusing, not sharing. And despite trying to be friendly with this mother for all the years our daughters had been in the same class, I was being told I was wrong and that my daughter was the real problem.
With back-and-forth messages on WhatsApp, there was a distinct difference between approaches with this mother’s fiery, emotional reactions and my attempt to tell-the-facts responses. Her husband even jumped in with texting my husband to attack my character.
“God,” I prayed, “This is not how I hoped this interaction would go. In fact, this is ten times worse than I expected! How will you ever bring good out of this mess?”
He answered me in the theme of battles and shields. For the next days, I searched Scripture for verses about battles and shields. I was reminded that each and every one of my battles belongs to the Lord, because I am His daughter. (2 Chronicles 20:15) And as I am trying to live toward His ways, He helps shield and protect me through the heat of any attacks from the Enemy. (Psalm 91:4)
The popular worship song Surrounded (Fight My Battles) by Michael W. Smith has been played on repeat, as I continue to seek God’s heart, “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You. This is how I fight my battles,” as well as Phil Wickham’s Battle Belongs, “So when I fight, I’ll fight on my knees with my hands lifted high, O God the battle belongs to You. And every fear I lay at your feet, I’ll sing through the night, O God the battle belongs to You.”
Like my car needs gasoline to function, so I desperately need God’s supernatural fuel to empower me through these everyday battles. Battles that I didn’t ask for. Battles I didn’t want. Battles I must face anyway.
This particular battle isn’t finished yet. Ironically, the girls have moved on and praise God, the playground situation has improved. But this mother is still proving difficult. There’s a silent tension between us, and unfortunately, I have multiple chances of seeing her daily at school drop off and collection. It is taking everything I’ve got to put on a brave face each morning.
And then I remember that this is not MY battle, but HIS. God is here with me, He’s for me, and He will help me to still behave honorably in this situation. I don’t have to be understood or accepted by this mother. If Jesus could ‘take the heat’ of all His enemies without attacking them back, then so can I. My eyes and heart will continue to be fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3), helping me to persevere through this challenge.
Choosing to believe in God’s mysterious ways, I trust that somehow, He will be glorified through the current, ‘thorn in my flesh.’ (2 Corinthians 12:7-9) He sees the big picture. I can put one foot in front of the other, taking one step at a time. I don’t have to fear. God is with me, and He will provide the fuel I need to press through this battle and any others that come my way.
Humbled. Surrendered. Faith-filled. Focused on Scripture. Grounded in Truth.
Looking back now at what transpired months ago, I can honestly say God has allowed me to process through what was a huge difficulty for my daughter and also for me. It didn’t feel nice for my character to be attacked and my actions completely misunderstood. Sometimes, peace keeping looks like letting go of a friendship and releasing all of the sticky mess to Jesus when we cannot find a way to agree with others. We may never understand the failing outcomes of our relationships or why certain friendships are only for a season, however we can put all confidence in God knowing that He can help us persevere anyway. Although this situation didn’t turn out as I had wanted, I have complete peace that I have done what I needed to do unto God, and I tried my best through this difficult situation with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps you have had challenges with a work colleague, someone at church, a friend, or in your extended family, and it feels like the differences will never get resolved. Keep praying over each one of your challenging relationships, seeking God’s Word for wisdom, and doing your best to live honorably toward God even if the other person doesn’t understand you. We are firstly accountable to God and He alone knows our hearts and will shield us through the unexpected battles we face in our everyday lives.