We Can Work It Out…

????Try to see it my way… While you see it your way, there’s a chance that we may fall apart???? – The Beatles, We Can Work It Out
The Beatles made a lively and impassioned plea for reconciliation. They seemed to understand there are at least two sides to every story. Despite whatever else they were, they channeled a conscious longing within their generation for alternative ways of global relations and civil interactions. In a time when the whole globe was being pulled into opposing sides of a Cold War, it’s not challenging to be sympathetic to their desires, even if we might question some of their pragmatism or some of their methods.
Conflict doesn’t always have to lead to hostile opposition, caustic repudiation, or condemnation. Yet working our way through conflict doesn’t always mean fruitful collaboration going forward. That’s one of the harder realities for me to accept. So hard, that I kind of hope to discover it’s wrong and write in the future how all earthly conflict finds resolution in harmonious partnership.I want that to be true. I want it so badly that I’ve actively worked in friendships, relationships, and with colleagues when it was abundantly clear to most other people that those partnerships were no longer productive. Dear friends have had to ask me, “Did [he or she] ask you to make this work?” Many times, after some honest reflection, I can see clearly I was chasing a productive partnership that wasn’t to be.

I think I do this because part of my self-image is that I am a flexible, friendly, loving, creative, and compassionate person. Acknowledging that not every person or organization is a great fit with me is a hard dose of reality. It doesn’t undo my self-image, but it definitely humbles me. There’s a part of me that believes if I really try I can get almost anyone to like me. When conflicts emerge that part of me wants to insist that not only can we make amends, but we can be better than ever! And sometimes that’s true. And other times it’s painfully not true.

Two of scripture’s most prominent figures, King David and the Apostle Paul, had to come to this understanding. David found himself continually at odds with the King he was sworn to protect, but anointed to replace. Paul came to an intense disagreement with his co-worker in the gospel, Barnabas, and the two parted ways. If I were either of those men, then it would be tempting for me to try and continually win Saul or Barnabas over.

Fortunately, I’m not those men. If I were David, then my continual pursuit of Saul’s genuine favor might have ended with my head mounted on his city gate. If I were Paul, then my insistence that we journey together would have limited the scope of ministry we would have ended up doing on separate trips.

It’s a real challenge for me to trust God beyond the preferences of my personality or conniving of my control. Still scripture suggest that not every conflict has to lead to an ongoing partnership.  Scripture shows that God can use our going separate ways to work out God’s Way in our lives and in our world.