I’ve been the community manager at (in)courage now for five years. That means five years of working with and for and alongside women. Writing about women, reading about women, talking to women, in small groups of women, and for large groups of women.

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I don’t think I could possibly overstate how much I love women.

What a gift it is to serve them and how deeply I esteem their unique and varied callings – often as different from each other as you could possibly imagine and often just as deeply rooted in the same things – faith, family, and friendship.

In my five years serving this community I’ve had the incredible privilege of listening in on all kinds of interesting conversations. As well as receiving lots of generous feedback. Feedback that’s been encouraging, challenging and sometimes difficult. Feedback in every possible form – emails, direct messages on Twitter or Facebook, Instagram tags, surveys at the end of conferences, phone calls, Google Hangouts and Voxer messages.

And in these last five years I’ve learned more about processing the feedback I hear from others, than in any other job I’ve had.

And as I mark this five year milestone with (in)courage I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you all – the readers I love all the way down to the marrow of my bones.

Because I think that some of the best and hardest work that God calls us to do is to love other people.

Because the nature of being human means that we are going to bump into other beautiful human beings throughout the day and in order to love well and genuinely we need to be prepared for when we disagree. Or when what they share is hard to hear.

We need to learn to be listeners with hands open rather than palms clenched in tight, frustrated, misunderstood fists.

If we want any hope of succeeding at what James calls, “the hard work of getting along” then we need to work hard at listening well. And even harder at responding with compassion and kindness that recognizes that the people around us are made in the image of Christ and therefore should be treated with the same respect, care and consideration as we would give Him.

Please don’t for a minute think I’ve arrived. Sisters, I’m just as bumbling and stumbling when it comes to figuring all this out as I know we all often feel. But I figure if I can lend my bruises and scars and what they’ve taught me, then maybe you can avoid a few of your own.

Because I know that Christ makes us family.

So here are 6 things things I have learned (am still learning) when it comes to responding with love in the thick of hard conversations. Click here to read them.

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