With the division in our country these days, it’s hard not to get discouraged, even angry. There are divisions in our families as well, sometimes related to politics, and many times related to differing moral perspectives. It’s hard to have a productive discussion when all sides are convinced they are right.
Division is quite simply the devil’s calling card. And when we recognize division as a trap set for us by the evil one, we can be more astute in the way we react and respond to it. Sometimes it’s best to avoid arguing. Other times, especially when the stakes are high, it’s important we express ourselves and our beliefs. That’s particularly true with our children and other close family members when we’re concerned for and have a responsibility for their safety and their souls.
Staying Out of the Snare
So, when divisions multiply and try to pull us into a snare, our first recourse should be to turn to prayer. We may be firmly convinced of the truth of our perspective or position. Our opponents may be similarly convinced. And when those “opponents” are our spouses or family members, we need to be particularly careful about how we approach our differences.
In such circumstances, how we pray can make all the difference in the world. I remember someone telling me about a husband and wife who were in disagreement about moving to Florida. The husband wanted to go and the wife didn’t. The advice given to the wife was “Pray. And if that’s what you really want, Jesus will change his (the husband’s) mind.” Now, the same advice could have easily been given to the husband–pray and if that’s what he really wants Jesus would change his wife’s mind. That reduces Jesus to a wishbone that will yield to whomever pulls the hardest.
The better way to pray is this: Pour out your heart to the Lord. Make your case. Express your feelings, desires, and fears. But then ask Him to show you what He wants. He knows best after all. That can feel scary as we tend to get attached not only to our own will but even to our own wisdom. Maybe that aforementioned couple belongs in a different state that neither one has considered. Jesus is a Gentleman…He’s not going to force your will. But if you’re open, He will give you the graces needed to change your heart. He will give you a desire for what He wants if you don’t resist. It’s the resistance that gets most of us in trouble and causes us the most heartache.
So instead of insisting on our way, we need to ask Jesus to show us His way and to give us the grace and openness to let go of our will if it’s not in accord with His. In a word, we need detachment. We need to detach from the outcome and resolve to be happy with whatever God’s plan is for us.
But what about those divisions that occur at work, in families, or in society in general? Let’s face it, sometimes things are pretty black or white, good or bad, moral or immoral. It may certainly seem so to us…but remember, it may seem equally clear to those on the other side of whatever moral issue is at stake.
When it comes to differing viewpoints and morality, a similar principle applies. No matter how sure you are of your own position, resolve to pray for Truth to prevail. When locked in disagreement with a friend or family member, agree to disagree for the time being, and suggest that you both sincerely pray for the truth to be made clear. One of you will likely be surprised by the answer. Sometimes you both will be as the truth is sometimes found somewhere in the middle. Praying opens up new avenues of grace for all parties involved. And even though you may still disagree, it unites instead of dividing you.
On some issues, you may actually agree with your opponent in principle. For instance, you both believe we should take care of the poor and downtrodden. How we should do that though may become a major bone of contention. Some may believe in giving a fish-others in teaching them how to fish. In such cases, try to focus on your common care and concern for the poor. Praying together for the poor to get what they need is something you can likely agree upon. And as vehemently as you may disagree on what to do, the simple act of praying together can put the devil to flight. Ask God to show you both the truth—the best way to address the problem. If you do one of two things will happen: one position may be more clearly vindicated and the opposing heart changed, or a new solution, or combination solution will be manifested.
The bottom line is this—division only feeds more and more division. Resolve not to fall into that trap. The battle is not of flesh and blood as it seems, but is more accurately one of powers and principalities. Stay connected in love, in prayer, and in truth. Don’t let your differences obscure the good you know is there.
If it gets too heavy or heated, reach out to one of our counselors or coaches for help and direction. A fresh perspective can help you see things from a different viewpoint and teach you better communication skills to navigate these murky waters without falling into the division trap. Why go it alone? We’re here to help.
Allison is also the Founder and President of www.CatholicTherapists.com, a nationwide network of dedicated Catholic therapists.
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