I have a strong aversion to hard conversations. I’ve never been good at addressing conflict or having hard conversations, and have typically avoided them almost “like the plague.”

Why? I can’t simply write it off as “that’s my personality,” though in a lot of ways, I am a people-pleaser. But over the past few days I’ve tried to dig deeper into the why behind this. Why do I avoid conversations that are hard, why do I let conflict fester instead of addressing it and shutting it down?

Maybe because if I do address conflict, or when hard conversations are hard, I have to acknowledge my own brokenness and my own need for grace. Crazy, I know. You would think after walking with the Lord for most of my life, I would recognize that need. But alas, I fall victim time and again to the belief that I can be independent and I don’t need others; and moreover to the belief that I don’t need God’s grace.

Through hard conversations that have had to happen this month, I’ve come to notice my own brokenness and insecurities and subsequently, my own need for grace and for the Lord Jesus Christ. For too long, I’ve been wanting both Jesus and an idol: both Jesus people’s affirmation of me. I’m learning now, through these hard conversations, and by God’s grace working in me that my ultimate belonging and acceptance in Christ needs to be sufficient; and always will be sufficient.

As Tim Keller puts it,

“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

Though my own brokenness, sinfulness, and insecurities are come to more light for, I would choose to name this season as a season of “tilling.” We till our gardens and fields for the purpose of turning over the soil to allow increased growth. In the same way, God graciously works in our hearts to “till us” for the purpose of growth; turning over our sin, brokenness, and insecurities and leading us to the Cross.  Not comfortable, not easy, and in fact quite hard: but the Lord is so gracious in these seasons of tilling.

As I learn these lessons, and walk through this season of tilling, I am yet so grateful for the many good and lovely things that have blessed me this month. Some of us girls enjoyed a Needtobreathe concert; we all went to the state fair (talk about sensory overload; but fun nevertheless!); and the youth retreat we went on with our kiddos. This retreat was exhausting in every way (especially for an introvert – it was all people time!), but at the same time I got to grow deeper in relationship with my sweet 6th grade girls, and watch them grow more deeply in relationship with one another. I also got a glimpse of heaven as I soaked in the voices of over 80 youth worshipping the Lord, and realized how deeply I wanted for all of my 6th grade girls to know the Lord and have a deep awareness of His love and the hope they have in Christ.

My prayer for them, and for all those I have and will meet this year, and definitely for myself, comes from the words of my Wheaton class song, which comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:23: “Now may God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you and never cease.” This prayer resonates deeply – through seasons of tilling, through the valleys, and on the mountaintops, may the Lord himself sanctify us and never cease.

I know I am where I need to be for this season of tilling- this season is not comfortable, but it keeps leading me to the Cross- where I need to go; and where I receive grace upon grace.

Come as you are – come to Jesus, come sit at the table & come taste the grace.