Clashing with Others

Clashing with Others
Karen Ehman

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love
covers all offenses. On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is
found…” Proverbs 10:12-13a (ESV)

My husband and I often joke about what
would have happened in our college-courting days if we had sent our profiles to
an online match-making website. We are pretty sure that instead of pairing us,
the computer screen would have blinked DO NOT DATE!! TOTALLY NOT

We’re a lot like the two candlestick holders on the dresser
in our bedroom. While both are crafted from solid brass with similar round
bases, the rest of each holder couldn’t be more different.

One is
straight and streamlined, more functional than fancy. That candlestick holder
has tall, strong lines. The second is designed with a touch of flair. It has two
strands of brass that whirl and swirl from top to bottom in a “look at me”

I found the candlesticks at different yard sales. While their
styles aren’t the same, somehow this eclectic pair is an interesting match. And
more importantly, they’re a visual reminder to my husband and me of our

My husband is the first candlestick. No frills.
Straight-forward. Only about function. I am the second one. Crazy. All over the
map. All about fun. While we both are “forged from brass” in that we are
followers of Christ with the same spiritual foundation, pair our
opposite-ends-of-the-spectrum personalities together and disaster could

Beyond the normal male/female differences, we have a lot in our
personalities that cause friction and sometimes (mostly from me) snapping and
harsh words.

Mismatched personalities in marriage, parenting or in work
or friendship situations, can cause frustration, anger and at times, wounded

Someone who is not wired as we are, does not think like we do
and who makes decisions and carries out actions we would never dream of, can rub
us the wrong way. It causes our feathers to ruffle and not-so-nice thoughts
enter our brains.

Usually, if dealing with a non-family member, we manage
to keep our composure and tame our tongues to avoid saying anything we might
regret. With our children or spouses however, sometimes we open the floodgates
and spew cutting comments, nasty words, criticisms and awful accusations. My
husband and I call it “throwing flesh balls.” At that point, we no longer “walk
by the Spirit” but “gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16

If I allow it, my flesh likes to be satisfied and nothing satisfies
it more than a good ol’ verbal assault on my
thinks-and-acts-so-differently-from-me husband.

There’s a different way
God calls me to respond though. Proverbs 10:12-13a provides direction for how we
should handle conflicts that arise from trying to mesh two differing personality
types. “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. On the lips of him
who has understanding, wisdom is found …” (ESV).

Love is key to wise
responses in a relationship. Because we love God, and others, we should seek to
understand when we clash. And ask God for wisdom when we don’t understand. We
should love intentionally. Not necessarily in an “ushy-gushy, touchy-feely” way,
but in an “I am going to choose to react gently and behave kindly because that
is what God is asking me to do” sort of way.

Cementing this thinking in
our minds will help us to respond with God’s love and biblical truth. Especially
when faced with someone who thinks and acts differently than us.

Will you
join me in purposing to stop stirring up strife when it comes to someone in your
life? And to choose to love and understand them? Especially when they are oil
while you are water. Yes, even your spouse.

Dear Lord, grant me the
ability to speak kindly, respond gently and at times, to hold my tongue. I want
my actions and reactions to please and reflect You and Your love. In Jesus’
Name, Amen.

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