In yesterday’s article, we considered some examples of individuals for whom some combination of their heart, mind, body, and soul are battling against each other. Then, we realized that this situation probably applies to all of us, and what we identify as specific “conditions”, “struggles”, or “situations” are merely specific forms of this conflict. We all struggle with conflicts within our nature. While we can – and should – use our strengths to help fellow human beings where they are weak, we can be strong only because others (including God) do the same to help us with our weak spots as well.
Yesterday’s article also identified that, when any two aspects of our nature are not aligned, sometimes a third part of our selves must become the tiebreaker or referee. So, now that we appreciate that others’ struggles are merely different forms of the same basic type of conflict common to the human condition, how should we treat others whose challenges aren’t the same as our own?
For one thing, I believe that we should be compassionate. After all, Jesus said so:
You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
Luke 6:36 NLT
For the person whose feelings are in conflict with their genes, the pain, struggle, and conflict are real and tangible. The person whose internal “discontinuities” are different doesn’t have the right to dismiss those difficulties as something that should just be ignored by the one who is fighting them. Conflicts within ourselves are often brutal.
As far as I know, none of the people who struggle with conflicts within themselves want this to be the case. If they did, why would they try to bring other parts of their whole being into alignment, sometimes with dramatic measures or self-“medication” to dull the pain?
In addition, individuals fighting with visible challenges need to be protected from those who would harm them for following a different path. This should be true regardless of their decision as to which part of their selves they embrace. No matter how someone is handling their internal conflicts, even if they aren’t making the choices that we want them to, that is not justification for violence or other kinds of personal attacks on another human being (created in God’s image).
I also believe that those who fight with internal conflicts (i.e., each of us) should be offered help. For instance, those whose conflict is with their heart should be able to talk to a counselor. Those whose conflict is with their body should be able to talk with a medical doctor. Those whose conflict is with their mind should be able to talk with someone who understands and can teach. Some of us may need to talk with more than one of these professionals (or others with appropriate skills, like pastors and teachers), but “free advice” from the Internet and uninformed friends are not suitable replacements for educated, professional help in these struggles.
Previously, I said that all of us experience internal conflicts. Does that mean we all need help? Absolutely! Most of us would be willing to get medical help when we need it, or to ask for help (or look something up) if we couldn’t figure out the answer to an important question. So, why in the world would we not be equally accepting when those who struggle with their feelings want to get help? Similarly, why would we be afraid to get help ourselves when things are not right with our emotions? Would you try to set your own broken arm? If not, why would you try to fix your depression with a couple of articles you read on the Internet?
Now, some might say that a counselor is only helpful when they will talk their patients into making a specific decision. My counter to that is that either choice in conflicts like these is difficult. For instance, just ask both a gay man who has embraced this lifestyle, and another gay man who has chosen to not act upon the same internal drives. From my observations, both of those situations are challenging. God will sometimes provide healing to individuals, but that is by no means always the case (just ask Paul, based on what he wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). And, in today’s culture, regardless of one’s decision (on virtually any topic), condemnation will come from one extreme or another. So, my recommendation of getting professional help isn’t about forcing someone into a particular decision, but rather understanding that conflicts are real and serious, and realizing that regardless of a person’s decisions, the resolution is going to be much easier with some help.
Now, there is a fine line here. Where God has clearly defined the most healthy answer in a particular situation, it is more difficult for me to support someone who is choosing a path that is different from God’s ideal. This is not a matter of judgment on my part, or somehow condemning that person. Rather, I believe that God’s plan is best for each person, and living in another way will create unfavorable consequences. As a result, I think that it is ideal when the various kinds of professional advisors mentioned above (medical, psychological, academic, and spiritual) are aligned with – and seeking – God’s direction, since God not only wants the best for each of us, but He has the wisdom to know what that is.
When I am living out God’s love, though, and truly want the best for someone else, the pain that I feel in seeing them making decisions that are the opposite of God’s guidance isn’t hate or judgment. Instead, it is the pain of knowing that they aren’t experiencing the best life that they can. Those of us who follow Jesus can love every human being that needs to eventually find integrity within themselves, harmony with their Creator, and the peace that only He can provide.
And, ultimately, as we work through our own conflicts and help others with conflicts among their hearts, minds, and physical selves, what is most important is our – and their – souls. Jesus doesn’t expect people to get all of their feelings in order, or to know all of the answers, or even to be physically healthy, before they come to Him. After all, He is a healer, and with the simple act of trusting Him with our lives (both here on earth, and for eternity), God can help us with the rest.
We cannot heal people’s souls like Jesus can, but we can do our best to love them like He did, and point them to Jesus to receive the healing that only He can provide: first in their soul, and then spending the rest of their lives (like everyone else who accepts Jesus’ offer) to work on the rest of their selves, at the pace and direction that God calls them to.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.