"If you marry him, I know you're just gonna take him for everything he's got and then drop him on one of our doorsteps!" My future husband's daughter-in-law Annie (not her real name) raised her voice in anger.
Seated by a window in a charming Greek restaurant, I felt the heat rise to the top of my head. I glanced around, grateful the restaurant hadn't yet filled. I was completely surprised by Annie's spiteful words, so I quickly prayed for guidance.
Remain quiet, God encouraged me. So I didn't say anything in response to Annie's accusation.
Annie's eyes flashed fire. "Your reaction isn't normal. I'm attacking you and you're not even fighting back."
"How would it help if I did?" I asked, as I thought of Jesus' example. Scripture tells us that Jesus "did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered" (1 Peter 2:23).
Annie was right. Refusing to respond to hostility in kind is not a normal response. But it is Christlike. I swallowed hard and prayed for grace. How could I glorify God in this situation where the hostility was thick enough to slice?
Conflict Is Unavoidable
In our fallen world, we all face conflict. It simmers between spouses and erupts in family relationships. It festers in long-term friendships. It seethes in the workplace.
I'd grown to love Annie's father-in-law who, like me, was widowed. Richard and I began seeing each other about nine months after his wife's passing. Now two years after her mother-in-law's death, Annie was still hostile.