“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires... courage.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson.
On a recent day I read this and I was backwashed instantly with its encouraging truth.
When we think about it, all of us have God-placed admonishing influences in our lives, and yet, we, by our instinct, will often either listen too much to them and stop doing what we need to do or disregard them in a resenting fashion thinking, “How dare they...!”
Having fallen for both recently enough, I know both of these methods are fraught with their own dangers.
Thorns for our Benefit
People are funny. We bring all kinds of encumbrances upon others due to our very own sought-after or unmet needs. When we interfere with the process, or others interfere with us and our plans, we or they become thorns—but not always bad thorns.
Paul discusses the fact of a ‘messenger of Satan’ that was part of his life; not simply to bring him unending persecution and harm, but for his benefit—that through it he’d be conformed to God’s grace, which is forever sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).
God makes good of absolutely everything, in our effective response, eventually.
We Must Always (Attempt) to Come Back to the Truth
I say “attempt” because we’ll often fail, but notwithstanding, the truth should always be our key driver.
The truth is, our responses to negative and critical people are a clue from God—based in self-reflection, if we’re so inclined—as to how closely we’re clinging to truth, or how far we’re drifting from it.
And this truth has nothing whatsoever to do with the other person. It’s about our response and our attitudes at heart as far as God’s concerned.
There are times when we know that what we’re doing is right and that it’s for the best; these times, despite thought to the contrary from others—unless they have good guidance or watch-points for us to be wary of—we ought to press on courageously, and certainly with our awareness now piqued. It’s our lives after all.
Despite the thorns—that are there for our necessary benefit to test and mature us—we can go on courageously with our plans, committing them to action, and best provided we align with the truth by taking any interpersonal offense out of it in the process.
Conflict: would life still be as interesting—though nonetheless more peaceful—without it?
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.