I stepped into a near cat fight between two of the ladies who work for me. I was in my bedroom, playing with my kids, when I overheard their voices. Something was wrong. And sure enough, when I went into their room, they were at it…pointing fingers, cutting words, angry faces. My, here we go, I thought. This isn’t going to be quick or easy.
I listened to their discussion for a bit, which simmered down significantly because I was in the room with them. But they were still at it. Accusatory remarks, bringing up the past, judging one another…I had to say something.
Given that my Tagalog is not very good, my proposals and mediation had to be done in English (with my best effort to mix in the Tagalog). Thankfully, they understood me.
First, I tried to find out what was happening. I let the first two ladies (the ones who were really at it) explain their sides and then I asked them to pray with me. I knew this wasn’t a situation that could be solved with human resources because a whole lot of resentment had made the atmosphere spiritually heavy. So I came before the Lord and asked him to help us all.
Then I appealed to the goodness in each of them. Our conversation went something like this, “I know you ladies don’t want to be angry with each other. I know that you do not want to work together like this. So I want you to share with me what has made you feel hurt. Then, I want you to share how the other can improve.”
I gave time to each of the girls to say how they felt. But in the process, they dug up whatever beef they had with each other and tried to make each other look bad! So, I narrowed down the issues. Afterwards, I also shared about how conflict is normal. Edric and I have to work things out in our own relationship. No one is perfect, we all have to improve.
To cut the story short, I asked each one of them to share what they needed to change in their own life (regardless of the other person). And I also asked them how I can improve because I wanted to drive home the point that everyone can become better in some way.
Afterwards, I reassured them that they are equally important to me, that I care about them. I told them that the ugly things they revealed about each other will not make me care about them less. Most importantly, I shared that in our home, Christ is the center. And we want him to be present in the way we treat one another and the things we say. When we act in a manner that is unloving, then we displease God. (This is an edited version of our dialogue because I spent a good 45 minutes talking the issues over with them.)
One of the girls easily get over the issue and move on but the other one was nursing her hurt. This is where I had to bring in forgiveness.
Tears were shed (including my own), but by God’s grace, they all came to a better understanding and appreciation of one another. Repeatedly, I told them, “There are no accidents with God. We have all been brought together in this home. Therefore, we must choose to forgive and love one another.” I encouraged them to pray and surrender their frustrations to the Lord instead of focusing on the faults of the other person.
At the conclusion of our intense conversation, I prayed with them again. There was an overwhelming sense of peace and relationships were restored. I hugged each one of them and encouraged them to hug one another. We even did a group hug in the end and I counted to 10 seconds before allowing anyone to let go. (I ask my boys to do this when they get upset with one another, too.)
One of my girls said that she was so ashamed that their issues were brought up to me. And I told her, “Don’t ever be ashamed to share these things with me. I am not angry or stressed. You don’t have to worry about that. I am committed to helping you all improve and grow. But don’t do things for me. Do what is right for God.”
As a treat, I told them that I was giving them money to watch a movie at the mall so they could have some bonding time. It was a good day for me to do this because my two older kids were with Edric, and I just had my two tiddly-winks, Titus and Tiana, to take care of.
They were embarrassed to accept my offer, but I insisted. In my heart, I felt like this was one of those moments when they needed to experience grace. Why? Because we had shared the gospel of Jesus Christ to them in the past and we have always been vocal about what we believe, but the gospel’s true power must be seen in our lives. I sacrificed my own comfort this afternoon for their sake so they might understand that the gospel is about forgiveness, undeserved kindness, and redemption.
I didn’t do this for myself. My goodness, no! My human, self-centered side does not like dealing with other people’s “mess.” I don’t like to mediate discussions or jump in to help others resolve their issues. Sure, I do this with my kids. But that’s different.
Yet, God put a burden in my heart to disciple these ladies. They live in our home. I trust them with the lives of my children. And even if the world may think of them as just “the help,” I consider them fellow heirs of God’s grace because he loves them and died for them.
28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:28 – 29
I also know that they watch our lives more closely than anyone else. By reaching out to them in grace, I want them to desire the Jesus whom we believe in and love. I don’t want there to be any measure of contradiction in me to nullify whatever seed the gospel has planted in their hearts. If my actions as a boss turn them off to Jesus then I am accountable for a great crime before God. His invitation to relationship is for them, too.
They came home from their mall and movie bonding time smiling and chatting. The pleasant sound of their laughter in the kitchen was a wonderful reminder that peace is possible in Christ. Praise God for bringing back the harmony into our home!
May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. (Jude 1:2 NASB)