Let’s face it – girls aren’t always made of sugar and spice and everything nice. In fact, sometimes we can be downright mean. Other times we find ourselves caught up in competition with one another, being judgmental, bitter feelings, jealousy and insecurity. We Christian girls are good at hiding our hate, though. We wrap ourselves up in a nice Sunday bow, all while battling with broads in our brains. And, I truly believe we don’t want to be this way and we do our best to fight it, but we don’t have the tools to properly dig ourselves out. It is exhausting.
Is it safe for me to say that we all want peace in our minds and in our relationships? Is it even safer for me to say that the high majority are not fully at peace? I got sick and tired of my “Cold Wars” with women. I wanted true and genuine peace with myself and with others, so I did what most Christian girls would do – I asked God to help me, and I turned to His word. Sure enough, the answers were there.
When we are at odds with others, even if it’s just warring with them in our own minds, we will never achieve peace. I have stewed, laid awake at night and even have literally felt sick to my stomach over not getting along with other women. But, God has shown me that He’s provided a blueprint for us to be fully unified with other women right there in His word, and it all begins “up here” (picture me pointing to my noggin). Changing our mind about how we view ourselves will dramatically change the way we think about others. When we think right, we will act right. And, when we act the right way towards others we are much more likely to live at peace with them. Peaceful minds achieve peaceful relationships. Here are some tips and truths I’ve learned that helped me change the way I think about myself and others.
1-Right feelings follow right actions
This is true for much of life. If I regularly eat kale instead of Krispie Kremes, I am bound to feel better about myself. If I make sure to get a solid 8 hour sleep instead of binge watching When Calls the Heart (Hallmark’s time sucking soap opera) until 2am, I will certainly feel better the next day. How we act usually determines how we feel. The Bible is jam packed with cause and effect, or what it calls “sowing and reaping” principles… “Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble will reap the same” (Job 4:8). “Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity” (Proverbs 22:8). It is also true with our relationships – if we extend grace to others, we are bound to receive grace back when we need it. If we speak well of others, they will most likely be prone to speak well of us. If we say we are sorry, our relationship has a better chance of being mended. When it comes to your relationships, keep in mind that right feelings follow right actions.
2-A gram of gratitude
I used to be consumed with counting other women’s blessings. The result was that I didn’t have enough time to count my own, and I believed I was hard done by. This made me mad – mad at God and mad at them. I wound up with a chronic “woe is me” attitude and it turned women who were blessed with what I felt I was lacking, into the enemy. When we over focus on other’s blessing it takes our eyes off our own, and this is the fertile ground for envy to grow. So, my suggestion is that you become quite intentional with remembering all the great gifts God has blessed you with! Actively count your blessings, and even jot them down somewhere you’ll be reminded of them. We see over and over in the Psalms that David willed himself – he made the choice to thank and praise God for who He is and what He has done. Just a gram of gratitude every day is the structure to build up satisfaction in your life and keep the envy away!
3-Change your negative thinking
Imagine that Susie borrowed your pen, and forgot to give it back, and it bugged you a little. As the day goes on, you keep waiting for her to return it. In your waiting, you keep thinking about how annoyed you are. “I’m so irritated that Susie stole my pen!”, you think to yourself. “Why would Susie steal my pen like that? I remember she’s done it before too. Man, Susie needs to stop stealing things.” Your annoyance turns to exasperation…”Susie is a thief! Someone needs to put her in her place!…Susie shouldn’t even be working here anymore…in fact, Susie shouldn’t be working anywhere…Susie is a criminal. She should be in jail!”.
Yes, this is a silly, exaggerated example, but the fact is, that when we dwell on negative thinking, we allow it to morph and grow into lies we believe. Our own narrative about others is often more tainted and negative than the real story about them. God knows how our minds can wander into negative territory at rapid pace, and so we are urged to take control and lead our minds, rather than our minds dragging us into the gutter. In Philippians 4:8, Paul urges us to change our negative thinking. He practically pleads,
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if there is anything excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things.”
So, in heeding his advice, this is what I do: When “she” does something I don’t like, I write down a list of things about her that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable and excellent. And, wouldn’t you know, all of a sudden that “big” thing I was focusing on becomes small….small enough to handle and small enough to forget about. It works like a charm. I urge you to put God’s word to the test and change your negative thinking too, because the story we tell ourselves about others may just be a big fat cellulite-ridden lie.
4-Relationship over Rightness
Sorry can be a scary word.No one enjoys admitting they’re wrong, and if you’re anything like me, you really enjoy being right. But, sometimes being right isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve heard it said that saying sorry is a sign of weakness. I’d like to highly disagree and say that sorry is for the strong. There is good news about bringing our sin to light. When we reveal the improper choices we made yesterday, we shed light on our maturity today. Something I’ve learned over time is that it’s even ok…and really helpful to say you’re sorry, even when you aren’t wrong. Sorry is the super-glue that mends relationships when they are broken, no matter who says it. Romans 12:18 urges me to “do all that you can to live at peace with everyone.” Apologies are a major part of peacemaking. Now, saying sorry isn’t about backing down, but rather bowing down to serve your relationship with your offender, as well as the ones around you. Saying sorry simply serves others. Rather than touting our right-ness, we need to remember that our relationships come first.
In The Get Along Guide Bible Study for women, I apply these principles to relationship spoilers like jealousy, pride, comparison, competition, insecurity, unforgiveness and more. What you feed will grow. If you feed your mind, and therefore your relationships with unhealthy thoughts and behaviors you will suffer, but if you nourish them with God’s truth, you will thrive and flourish and Get Along very well.
“May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we will be a choir – not our voices only, but our very lives shining in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus!” Romans 15:1-7, The Message