Thursday, February 20, 2014

Conflict + Emotions // week 4

In any relationship there are differences and, often, break-downs in communication. These, among other circumstances, lead easily to conflict. As a culture that fights for comfort we avoid conflict like the plague. I get it. I grew up that way too. So, here, in a brand new place where the only relationships I have are the most basic and needed ones -- host home + employer + coworkers + a few hours away, Zachary -- its rough to have conflict in all of them at once.

I don't know how I knew but I did. The Lord does that for me sometimes. He knows how I work and although He has grown me to a point of trust and surrender with Him that I trust His heart toward me even when He leads me into things that go very against my hard-wired ways, He sometimes works in a way that's easy for me. I don't like unknowns and being unprepared for what comes next. Of course I am really into dreaming big and going on adventures and walking by faith rather than by sight. Finding my security in Jesus rather than knowing what will come next has freed me to live fearlessly like that. Now and then He gives me a heads up about things though. I don't usually realize it until afterward when I look back and see that my heart and mind was prepared in advance for a situation that would have been extra hard for me without that prep. So anyway, He gave me a heads up that this week was gonna be rough. For the first time in my challenging adventure of newness and loneliness, I did not want to face the week ahead.

Weary from four weeks of knowing that every interaction I was having with people were ones where they were forming their view of me -- none where I could just be completely easy and hang out, except at BBC with Zach. Little pickles at work and home were stressing me out. Getting desperate for quality time with Zachary and an escape from my day-to-day scene I tried every possible scheme for squeezing in a visit before he went to Ohio for a snow camp. My desperation and stubbornness + his stress-level from getting ready for his weekend away created the perfect storm of miscommunication and frustration and conflict for us. Conflict at work, conflict at home, conflict with Zach. It was all too much. I was wildly emotional, very unusual for me.

I was ready to pack everything up and run home. I didn't want to give up though. I didn't want to go running back to my comfort-zone and quit my adventure. My soft, soft heart needed some major comforting but my hard, hard head knew that if it was going to fight for anything it would be to make a wise decision not an emotional one. I called my Dad, got a pep-talk, and felt a little better. Then Momma texted and said that she had had me on her heart all day and was praying for me. I called her and got another pep-talk. Through our talks I learned that conflict is misunderstood as a destructive thing when it is actually a helpful tool. Conflict draws out deep issues that need to be addressed, reveals hearts, refines motives and perspectives, and tests character. There's no reason why we shouldn't come through every relational conflict stronger and healthier, but it requires pressing through it rather than running away.

I had a long weekend from work and had planned to spend it in Wallaceton with Zach's mom. Then a blizzard came through and extended my long weekend enough that I could manage to get to Wisconsin, have two days there and get back in time for work. So I packed quick, ate breakfast while I waited for the neighbor to plow our driveway and then hit the road. Yes, I decided to go on a 18hr road trip during a "State of Emergency" weather warning. I was having an emotional breakdown! My stubbornness and years of snow-driving skills kicked in well enough to get me through safely though. Stopping in Wallaceton on the way there I was finally able to relax and feel really, really at-home for the first time in a month. I got some balanced and helpful insight from "Momma B" over dinner that helped Zach and I begin to resolve our conflict. Being snuggled by pets and mothered there and at home over the weekend was SO refreshing. My two days at home were cut short by another on-coming snow storm I had to get ahead of but I had just enough time with my family and dogs, in my house, in my town, at my church and in my favorite places to process a boat-load of stress, reset and return to my #newjerseyadventure with fresh perspective and more clarity. I asked myself honestly if I regretted my big move East while I was home and the answer was no. In fact I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that, had I stayed rather than moving, that's what I would have regretted.

By this Tuesday I was back at work and in everyones good graces, settled right back in at my home-away-from-home and well favored there, and Zachy and I were all good -- better actually. I didn't come all the way out here for the opportunity to strengthen our relationship under the illusion that that would look like skipping through field of wildflowers or waltzing in the moonlight. I knew I was providing us with the opportunity to walk through the refining fires of challenge and conflict and cares. Adventure is messy but working through the mess is the brave thing to do and what it produces in you and others is invaluable.

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