Learning to get along.

“I hate when I do that.”

That’s the beginning of a conversation I have all the time. Sometimes in my head. Sometimes with others. You probably know the next sentence.

“But I get exhausted and overwhelmed and then it comes out.”

Or “But I’m so afraid and so I panic.”

Some well-meaning Bible people, including the people inside our heads, say things like, “Rejoice. We’re supposed to rejoice.” Or “Don’t be anxious.” They want to be helpful. But we’re not.

Responding to a mistake with what feels like a judgement or an obligation only makes the mistake feel worse. “I feel upset but Paul says that holy people rejoice. There must be something wrong with me.”

It’s easy to mistake the description of a training process for the giving of the final exam. To read some skills and attitudes that are learned across time, and believe that they should just happen.

Here’s what I mean.

Joan and AprilPaul wrote a letter to some friends in little church in the Roman colony of Philippi. In the letter, he often talks about joy and rejoicing. But what if Paul wasn’t wielding a happy club, bashing people who aren’t? What if, in at least one place, he was talking about how to help two people who were having conflict with each other get back on track?

There were two women in Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche. They were thoughtful, helpful, faithful people. They were important members of the team. But at the moment Paul was writing, they weren’t seeing eye to eye. They weren’t standing shoulder to shoulder. They were a soprano and an alto singing two different songs.

Paul asks them, pleads with them, to sing their parts in the same song. To be in harmony.

And then he gives them some things that will help.

And so will I this week. Up next, “Your voice changes when you smile.”

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Joan and April, pictured above, are actually getting along fine. And you can hear the two of them and Terry and I talking about The Self-Aware Leader at terrylinhart.com

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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