Is there anyone who doesn't know that I love to debate? It is like it's infused into my very being! Someone challenges me on a topic and my heart skips a beat at the opportunity to engage in an enlightening and sanctifying discussion. I am eager to learn and to share; but on the other hand, sometimes it becomes so personal, that I end up more wounded than I would prefer to be. Sometimes it leaves me feeling as though I am drowning in the blood of my own wounds, and I just want a good Samaritan to come along and extend a hand of kindness in that precise moment. Continuing on in the massacre is the furthest thing from my mind.
But why is this? I have studied apologetics, worldview and philosophy. I love talking about my convictions! I love sharing a biblical perspective on issues regarding autonomy, feminism and egalitarianism. I love feeling challenged to recall biblical examples and passages and convey the reason why I believe what I believe, and how firm a foundation Jesus Christ is and what a beautiful assurance that is to my soul.
Which is why it doesn't make any sense that there comes a point in these conversations where I feel like my heart is a hundred pound weight in my chest and I can't go on.
It usually happens as soon as my personal character starts being slaughtered. I get accused of the very thing I tried to avoid, or the thing that makes me draw back in disgust; and then all of the sudden, I feel that "weight" and I say "enough". As soon as my opponent tries to stuff me into one of their little boxes, I bristle... because I know in my heart of hearts, I was designed to live in "a Body", not a box. As I was asking God why my spirit feels such grief at times, I began to understand the purpose behind having a "heavy heart".
When in heated conflict, it can be easy to go through the motions and not even be aware that what you are saying is truth to you. It's like being trained to do something-- there comes a point where you don't even think about performing the actions in which you have been conditioned to execute. It can be easy to not see the other person as a human being whose eyes are blinded... to look at them as just an experiment for you to exercises your "skills" on. Then the argument loses its flavor of love and becomes robotic. We should share our passion for the Lord and the convictions that He has been gracious enough to give us, because we *care* about the souls of others, not because we want to feel superior. We should have an attitude of humility, not a haughty spirit that desires to simply conquer the other person... a gentility that seeks to have mercy on that blind soul is much more precious.
So when I feel my heart become heavy, it is when I realize that the hatred on the other end is too deep to be waded through in one conversation. Even though the entire debate is personal (because redemption is a personal aspect of a Christian's life), there comes a breaking point where the personal angle becomes targeted directly at the heart and it's like flaming arrows piercing through the tenderest of places in a soul. It is like you can see the venom spewing from their tongues and you become despairing because the scenario seems hopeless, graciousness is lost and a dirty fight becomes even dirtier. You draw back in grief and can only pray that the Lord will use a sliver of your words to pour out a spirit of conviction upon their hard hearts.
The other thing that I noticed about this kind of conflict, is that it is a tool of satan to distract from a greater purpose the Lord might be trying to accomplish. It can be easy to sink into the grief that comes and focus on that instead of the bigger picture. I was talking with this dear friend recently about the neglected topic of fasting and it brought to mind a small project this friend had talked about starting, and an idea sort of morphed in my mind from a culmination of the two conversations. This recent experience of grief was a perfect distraction from an area the Lord had recently laid on my heart to pursue; I was so excited about it and the ways it could increase an entire generation of young women's faith! And then... Wham! I was bombarded and it was excruciatingly hard for me to regain my perspective and focus back on what the Lord had convicted me to work on.
I will admit, I was disappointed in myself... I was disappointed that I wasn't able to overlook the hurt and just plow on through it. But that is exactly the kind of attitude that will cause me to focus on my own abilities instead of on Jesus. It isn't about what I can do, it is about what He can and does do. Allowing the grieved state of our souls to turn our eyes upon ourselves will only make us sadder... because we will see our own inabilities, which are rampant in our lives, when we should be looking to the cross, as the only able and perfect thing in our lives.
It is a lesson learned, and one I am grateful for-- because feeling sad isn't the crime in and of itself, allowing it to alter the object of my vision is. Letting it have the ability to rob me of the joy I experience in my redemption and make me look at myself, almost in an attitude of pride, instead of looking heavenward. Understanding how to harness the potential that can lie within a weary and burdened heart can be a wonderful thing and something that can be so profitable in life! If we only keep our eyes on the eternal goal and not this temporary earth which shall pass away.
"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2