Have you had heated conversations recently about COVID-19, vaccines, or has someone snapped at you for the decision you made?

Months ago, I made a decision about the vaccine based on several things. Then, I felt like God challenged me one day and said, “Kathleen, have you asked me?”  I was humbled and spent several days praying about the virus and vaccines, asking God what I should do for my life. I gave my life to Jesus over 50 years ago and my life belongs to him, so it made sense to ask him. After seeking him, I woke up one morning and felt like he gave me clear direction for the call he has on my life.

Not long ago, I encountered someone that was pretty vocal about her decision. Even though I didn’t agree with her stance, I was fine with us having a difference of opinion, confident in my decision, and just decided I wouldn’t share my opinion to avoid conflict. I really wasn’t interested in arguing with anyone about the topic, as I am not a medical professional and neither is she. Peace is more important to me and I usually guard it.

During the encounter, I felt like this friend was snapping at me. I was grieved at her response and saddened.

How was I to respond? Argue, be offended, or chose to forgive?

As I prayed about it, I felt like God took me to Hebrews 12:14-15 (TPT). It says, “In every relationship be swift to choose peace over competition, and run swiftly toward holiness, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Watch over each other to make sure that no one misses the revelation of God’s grace. And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many.”

We can see from this passage, that keeping peace, doing what is right before God, and not becoming bitter, is important to God. It seems like a tall order, but grace is available for the difficult people we encounter. We just have to ask for it and walk in it.

One of the things God has shown me is my emotions, attitudes, and choices say everything about me and other people’s emotions, attitudes and choices say everything about them.

My emotions, attitudes, and choices belong to me, not anyone else, and are in my yard. I must take responsibility for my responses to situations. I chose not to argue because it is not my responsibility to change her mind, her choices are in her yard.  My responsibility is to keep my heart right, love others, and forgive.

Emotions are how we feel about life and attitudes are what we think about life. Attitudes come from belief systems and usually those are formed in our youth and shape our thinking. Sometimes we are taught wrong attitudes and our mind needs to be renewed.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We must own our emotions, attitudes, and choices and tend to what is in our yard, not someone else. Our job is to be responsible and kind to others.

I can’t worry about what other people think, if they agree with my decision, and I must realize I am not powerful enough to change someone’s thinking. They have to own their own emotions, attitudes, and choices.

Hebrews 12:11 states, “Now all discipline seems to be painful at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it.”

When we discipline ourselves in our responses, it transforms our character and brings an abundant crop of righteousness and peace. We could all use more righteousness and peace these days.

Let’s get back on track and quit arguing. We need to get busy in God’s kingdom and pray with others, lead them to Christ, be the visible representation of who He is, not arguing and complaining about everything.

I challenge you to seek God about the pandemic, the vaccine, and talk to your medical professional. Take responsibility for your emotions, attitudes, and choice; and let’s live in peace with those around us.

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Kathleen Maxwell is a native of the Hill Country, a writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping others discover the joy of walking with God. On Thursday, Oct. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at The Kroc Center in Kerrville, she will begin leading her Bible study called, The Gathering - Bringing God into everyday life. For more information or to register, contact her at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com. You can also purchase her book, “Thriving Through Seasons of Grief” on her website, www.kathleenmaxwellrambie.com.

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