For many people, too much of life can feel like a daily battlefield of relational conflict. We can’t always control the situations that come at us but we can learn to control how we respond to them.
When a person doesn’t learn how to manage the conflicts that come at them, the mental warfare increases and intensifies beyond what is reality – beyond the real point of conflict. What do I mean by this? I mean that not only are they experiencing the real problems, but as they walk away from the unresolved conflict, they also create artificial or exaggerated ones in their mind. In a sense, they’ve doubled the battle that already existed. Eventually people imagine battles that have never happened because they’ve become accustomed to them with those they have frequent conflict with. They may begin to imagine problems that might happen before they ever really do. As they are driving home in the car from work, they create and play out an entire battle in their mind that has never really happened. Does that sound unusual – fighting imaginary expected battles because of past experiences? Well it not and it happens often in marriages.
I’ve known many husbands and wives who because of repeated relational conflict, are in the habit of forming negative expectations about how their spouse is going to respond to a situation. For example, a husband has been guilty of coming home late from work without giving his wife warning. He has done it over and over again. He gets home late, the meal she cooked is cold, and his wife feels like once again she has been treated without love and respect for the role she plays. It’s bad enough that he’s late, but on top of that he never calls to let her know. It’s led to multiple fights between them. Instead of correcting this inconsiderate habit, he instead often mentally walks out the fight he is expecting on his way home late from work. He begins to play out an entire imaginary battle that prepares him to be even more defensive and combative rather than rational and apologetic. He is now fighting two battles instead of one; one in his mind and one with his wife (heightened by the one he had in his mind.)
Both need to be stopped. Whether this is a marriage or a personal relationship with another person, this is what leads to the relationship eventually blowing up beyond repair. If others perceive you of being defensive, or if you know that you are, then that means you are probably easily offended, experience too much relational conflict, and you probably struggle with mind-battles. How can you slow them down and eventually eliminate them?
First know this. If you violate someone, own up and apologize. Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” You are a prideful person if you can’t admit that your wrong when you are! Learning to be soft, apologetic, and then taking it as a necessary cue to make a change is healthy and leads to greater maturity. It’s a great habit to develop that is much easier than you would imagine.
Then understand the need to defeat being offended. Quit thinking everyone is out to get you. Listen and quit being defensive. Sometimes paranoia is a mental health issue but most often it’s self-inflicted. You’ve learned to yield to your own pity parties and mind battles. As a child of God you have the promise from God of supernatural favor. God promises you favor – people liking you without you even understanding why. Psa 5:12 says, “For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” Favor is a covenant promise and of course, being Christ-like help facilitates that promise. But having faith for favor is the opposite of having negative expectation. You have to put your faith in this promise for it to become real in your life.
How do you begin to walk in it? First you commit this promise to memory. Then pray it over your life. Then look in the mirror and say, Thank you Lord that people like and love me today. I expect it because it is your promise of favor to me. I have favor as though it were a shield. Then combine the expectation of favor with a directive from the Lord concerning love.
Begin to combine your expectation of having favor with others – people liking and loving you because God’s favor is upon you, with you treating others in love – you believing the best in them and their motives, not the worst. Purpose to believe they are for you, not against you. Own up to your mistakes, softly apologize and correct them. Don’t look to get back at them or find their faults to get even! This will bring you right back to the pit you are trying to climb out of.
Do these things and you’ll develop Holy Spirit led mindsets and experience more of a peaceable thought-life having eliminated the extra imaginary battles. Over time, as this takes root and becomes how you truly think, it will change how people respond to you. It will help unwind your defensive nature. Just like a dog gets nervous around a person that is afraid of it, so do people who think you are angry or defensive with them. They will avoid you. Instead think and act like people love you because of your faith in the favor of God being upon you. Likewise, force yourself to love and believe the best about them.1 Cor 13:7 says, “Love always protects, always trusts, always believes the best in others, always perseveres.” Over time, this will begin to reduce conflicts and schisms in your life and the mind battles will become almost non-existent! Your life and relationships will be more peaceful and productive and you’ll personally grow in learning to manage conflict!
Your mind and your imagination belongs to you! Never let it become the devil’s playground to stir you up!
Philippians 4:8 (NLT) “…Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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