Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. EPHESIANS 4:32
There was only one problem when Tara Barthel and Judy Dabler set out to write their book Peacemaking Women: No sooner had they started than they weren't speaking to each other.
Judy had been Tara's first choice as co-author for a book about resolving conflicts. Everything from her conciliation expertise to her Christian experience made her the ideal partner.
Tara was pregnant with her first child when the writing process began, and in her task-oriented mind, it was imperative that the manuscript be completed before the baby came. Judy, however, was blindsided by a series of major setbacks, including personal health issues, her husband's hospitalization after a lawn-mowing accident, her mother's hip replacement, her father-in-law's bout with lung cancer, the loss of two employees in her counseling ministry and an unusually taxing caseload.
But Judy isn't one to make excuses. And though Tara would have probably understood why Judy's work wasn't coming in on time if she had known what her friend was up against, all she could see was a colleague who wasn't making good on a promise.
Everything at this point became email driven—the kind of communication that strips itself of personality and voice inflection, leaving the real meanings obscured by cold keyboard strokes. And every time the other's name would appear in the in-box, stomachs would churn.
This wasn't going well. Not at all. Two peacemaking professionals in a standoff. In need of peace.
You'll be glad to know that both of them finally applied the truth of their book. The hurt came out, understanding occurred, and forgiveness was expressed and granted. And their book had an extra chapter about very up-close-and-personal conflict.
Their story teaches a lesson. When people disappoint you, be patient. There may be more going on underneath the surface than you realize.
Talk about a relationship you avoid because you haven't met the person's expectations. Keeping in mind Paul's challenge in Ephesians 4:32, read Romans 12:18 and discuss what, if anything, is left for you to do.
Pray for honesty, understanding, forgiveness and peace in your most challenging relationships.