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Finally. Just when she felt all grown up, no more wavering faith, emotions under control, fears reduced to a manageable size…

So, yes. This is my story. About my dealings with the difficulties of others, and the difficulties of my own fickle self.

Now my path has merged with that of another woman whose rough edges leave their mark. Once a week, every other week, an accusation is thrown, with raised voice, eyes that bore into my soul—and I’m a little girl again. Unnerved, uncertain, insecure. And how my heart pounds and spirit crumples beneath the attacks. One so conscientious doesn’t usually transgress by intent. And when others assume wrongdoing, I’m crushed.

I understand accepting correction humbly. But you don’t have to be so harsh.

The woman is a believer, and uses Scripture to validate her points. Yet, being Christ-like doesn’t mean looking for transgressions and then pouncing. (I can think of a few verses, too…)

Down girl.

I submit and pray hard.

I don’t like her, Lord. I’m sorry. You know it, so I might as well say it. I really need wisdom. But I can’t wait for the time when I can disappear from her life…

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I mind my own business and make every attempt to stay out of her way.

But inside I struggle. Not as much now with her, but with something else…

I keep praying.

You love her, Lord. I understand that. But she finds fault where none exists. And disrupts everything. Maybe she could use some lessons in diplomacy?

I’m aware of her worries, her pressures, maybe some hidden fears and a critical spirit.

When she opens the door, I bristle. My smile weakens, and my defenses go up, ready for the attack.

But lately I’m convicted. The Spirit nudges me not to shrink back. Not to count the days until she’s gone. To release my guard and offer a bigger smile. To reach out with friendship. No, she doesn’t treat others right. (I’m not the only one she finds fault with.) And God knows.

But He’s got something bigger in mind here.

Maybe that’s why I put you in her life, He whispered after last week’s confrontation.

Hmm…? Rather than shrinking back, hiding behind the door frame, God nudges me to take a step forward. And offer grace. (I had to think about that for a while.)

door-194217_640With growing confidence in my Father’s love, my heart is stronger, maturing over time. I’ll probably always be sensitive, too sensitive at times. But I’m learning to seek strength and affirmation from Him.

There was that one conversation out by the car, when my dad admitted he had been too hard on me, hadn’t loved the way he should have or the way I needed. I didn’t realize it then, but you were a good girl. I know it now, and I’m proud of the woman you’ve become.

After his passing over a decade ago, there are no more conversations, pleasant or otherwise. I know he would change things if he could. Because there are so many things I would go back and change if I could. It’s part of being human.

Disappointment. Regret. People who’ve failed me. And if you’ve known me for long, I’m sure I’ve failed you.

God wants to use these failures, to woo us closer to the side of One who never fails.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I read an article recently, stating that guilt-ridden people make better leaders. We’re more committed, conscientious, principled, more responsible. And we should be thankful for the tyrannical parent.

(I want you to know, I am. I see God’s fingerprints all over my circumstances.)

I suppose not having an opinion, not voicing contradiction, not making waves or being decisive, would make us less difficult? But is that possible? I know a few difficult people who aren’t at all like me. Besides being human, we’re sinners. And sometimes these differing personalities are gonna clash.

Being crushed releases sweet sensitivity toward others. It’s an irony of life I’m learning to accept.

After all this time and even while putting words to the page, the tears flow. Not as much for me as for him, and for them. Because God has shown me a valuable truth in the difficulties: being human is common, and how I respond determines whether I move toward victory or slump in defeat. I want that for you, too—for all of us.

Navigating this fallen world is difficult enough, without my compounding it by being thoughtless of you or overly protective of my own emotional stability. To all those I’ve offended by being difficult or just plain sinful, please forgive me. There are still times when courage rises on the inside, but my feet won’t move. Other times my flesh steps out to handle the matter before I’ve thought it through.

Yet I keep praying, and I keep trying.

And especially to my dad, whose own sensitivity and difficulties with his upbringing and disappointments in life got in the way at times, I know he’ll be waiting someday at Heaven’s gates to welcome me, with his deep laugh and big arms open, ready to hug me tight. He isn’t angry anymore, and I won’t be afraid.

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