One day, my dad and I were riding to town on his motorcycle. We were driving along when we realized that the car coming the other way was in our lane and not going anywhere. My dad honked the horn but the car kept coming. We ended up in the drainage ditch on the side of the road, unable to stop. My dad yelled at me to hang on and, with what I would consider super-human strength, kept control of the motorcycle, popped a wheelie over a culvert and then down the other side.
Since Fathers Day is this month the radio station that I listen to has been talking about fathers. The question was asked, “What valuable lesson did your father teach you?” Many lessons flew to mind, but one stuck out more than all the others. “Know when to hang on and when to let go.” It sounds simple, right? It has been the hardest to apply but the most useful lesson of my life.
It was obvious to me when I was on the motorcycle that holding on for dear life was the right thing to do. Other times, the answer is not so obvious. In Matthew 12, Jesus butts heads with the Pharisees again and again. He always corrects them and always teaches them the truth, but in the end of the chapter after He tells them very clearly that they are wrong, He moves on. On the other hand, throughout the gospels Jesus holds on to Peter. Peter, who just doesn’t understand, Peter, who denies Him 3 times, Peter, who even after Jesus DIES for him still doesn’t know why Jesus came in the first place. Jesus sticks with him. He doesn’t throw up His hands and dismiss him. Jesus hangs on to him. He corrects him over and over again even though at times Peter seems so clueless.
So how do we know when to hold on and when to let go? How do we know when it is best to continue to struggle with a conflict in a relationship or to move on because we have done all we can do? We don’t have the intuition of Jesus, but although I don’t have the perfect answer, I believe that God gave us the tools that we need to find out. So here are a few steps that I think we should follow:
- Pray, Pray, Pray!
God knows what is best for you and He will provide an answer if you ask.
- Re-evaluate your motives.
Why are you holding on? Is it really the best thing in the long run?
- Study what God’s word has to say about it.
There are so many instructive passages about how to deal with conflict. Matt 18:15-17 is certainly a good one but another good way is to read through the New Testament and look at examples. Study the way that Jesus and the apostles dealt with conflict.
- In a situation involving someone else, go talk to them first.
It is certainly a biblical concept to confront the person you are having a problem with. Just be sure you do it with the right attitude: not to rub it in their face, but to show them their wrong in a loving way.
- Go talk to someone who isn’t involved.
By no means do I mean that you should go talk to a stranger or spread gossip. Find someone that you trust who is not involved in the situation: someone who has a history of providing you with sound advice. Sometimes it is easier for them to see the situation clearly without all the emotion that often comes with being involved.
If a conflict is coming between you and God, then it is time to re-evaluate. Should you be holding on or letting go? This is true not only for relationships, but also for other activities that are important in our lives. Although there is not a perfect list of steps to take I believe that God will not leave us in the dark. He allows us to speak to Him through prayer and gives us His word to guide us. He allows us the opportunities to develop relationships with others who can encourage and advise us. When we use these tools I believe that God will provide an answer every time.
By Briana Lane
Briana and her husband Justin serve with the Southwest church of Christ in Ada, OK. She grew up in Haiti as a missionary kid.