I am blessed every quarter to teach a class in Conflict Management. During our time together the students and I explore what conflict is, where it comes from, and why we have various patterns we've developed over the course of our lives in dealing with the conflicts large and small that surround us. Sometimes consume us.
My Dad's old tool box, dearly loved and beaten up, comes to the Conflict Management class with me during the last 1/3 of the quarter.
It's precious, that old tool box. When I look closely I can see my Dad's last name, scratched by his own hand, on the cover. He touched those latches to open it. The tools inside were part of his identity, being the fix-it man for my Mom.
Just like my Daddy, I need tools to fix my broken heart from the conflicts that leave me exhausted and dry. Leave me gasping for breath like a swimmer out too deep. A swimmer whose toes are desperately searching to find the bottom of the lake that will hold her up.
I keep imagining that I can be a fix-it person...in my own life and the lives of those I dearly love.
Truth be told, God is the only fix-it Man I trust. He can keep my head above water when I am too far from the shore. Too far away from Him. When I am carrying that tool box imagining that if I pick just the right tool, all will be well.
All will be well because God is in charge and He loves
me and shows me grace at every turn. All will be well because He is there...in the great times and in the mess.
All will be well. No matter the conflicts, no matter the stress, all will be well.
Now back to that Conflict management class...
The first tool I teach my students is how to do is an "Open Heart" exercise. We sit on the floor with the lights turned down to just a glimmer, put our hand over our heart and start to breathe.
We inhale positivity and exhale negativity,
all the while visualizing someone or some place that gives our soul rest. We focus on gratitude, not negativity. We focus on grace and mercy and love.
And we breath, just breathe.
We inhale slowly all that we are grateful for and we slowly, very slowly, exhale all that worries us.
It's quite a sight, really. All these college students, athletes and scholars, in a dim lit room with their hands on their hearts breathing in love and exhaling fear. Breathing in peace, God's peace, and exhaling hate. There's soft meditative music in the background as we slowly inhale and exhale.
I've been doing a lot of that lately in my life at school and my life outside the classroom...inhaling and exhaling.
It's the end of the school year and the pace seems unthinkable, the rush, rush, rush consuming.
The grade, grade, grade exhausting.
The worry, worry, worry overwhelming.
At school I have longed for peace and rest and reflection in all of this chaos. I have longed to just breathe and open my heart. In my personal life the same patterns are evident. Things seem to be quite chaotic and stressful, or at least that is what it feels like to me.
And yet in all of this, God's gentle touch, His reminder and whisper in my ear, is very clear.
Lean on Me.
Let go and surrender.
Stop trying to control that which you have no control over.
Let it go!
Release the stress so you can focus on Me.
It's as if God reminds me that He is enough and His shoulders are wide enough and big enough to shoulder every burden I carry.
So today after reading His word, I will breathe in Love and exhale hate and fear.
I will, with God's help,open my heart!
I will exhale worry.
I will let go and let God be God!
Amen and Amen!!
Have a blessed day, cherished friends!